Beyond's movie poster-style artwork speaks volumes about Quantic Dream's cinematic aspirations.Announced at Sony's 2012 E3 press conference, Beyond follows the life of Jodie Holmes, dropping in and out of her story across fifteen years. We don't know too much about Jodie just yet, but what we have seen suggests that she spends a good bit of those years on the run. From what, again, we don't know, but it's most likely to be something to do with Aiden, the spirit-like creature that she's travelling with. There's plenty of mystery surrounding the plot and characters, but in terms of gameplay we know that Beyond will see you playing as both Jodie and Aiden, with all the psychic abilities that entails at hand.
Quantic Dream founder and CEO David Cage says that above anything else, Beyond is about death, a topic fans of Heavy Rain and the studio's Atari-published PS2 title Fahrenheit (or Indigo Prophecy if you're from the `States) will know is clearly close to the writer/director's heart. The game's producer has also hinted that players will discover not only plenty about themselves and mortality, but also even "what lies beyond" - suggesting perhaps that Aiden might be something from the other side...
Also a continuing theme for the Beyond team is the conveyance of emotion. Between experiments with direct motion capture in L.A. Noire and the more artistic style seen in Halo 4 or Uncharted 3, they have their work cut out for them to stay on top of that field, but the footage we've so far seen from the game is impressive to say the least. Last year's Kara tech demo showed which direction QD was headed, but seeing it working in real time rather than a pre-rendered video is something quite different. With the facial animation technology and the emphasis on death, expect Beyond to get more than a little teary.
The game's "first look" video - a short sequence from the game followed by a trailer - shows how far Quantic Dream's tech has come since Heavy Rain.With a script that's more than 2000 pages long, and Hollywood starlet Ellen Page in the lead role (not just voice acting, but also acting out the many scenes worth of motion capture), it's clear that despite the shorter development period compared to Heavy Rain, Quantic Dream's latest isn't any less ambitious, and that's exciting.
As Alex said, while Heavy Rain may not have been all that polished (and with some awful voice acting in particular), it was something very unique, and that it won a whole bunch of end-of-year awards despite its issues and its February release suggests that it really struck a chord with a lot of people. Beyond may not have the same mass appeal as God of War: Ascension or The Last of Us, but for fans of interactive drama, of Quantic Dream and Heavy Rain, and of that something a little bit different and a little bit special that Sony seem to be pretty good at supporting, it's definitely shaping up to be one of the highlights of 2013.
Beyond: Two Souls is due for a release exclusively on PS3 sometime in the first half of 2013.