Jodie's ghost companion may be doing the heavy lifting, but she's far from helpless.
Quantic Dream head honcho David Cage has spoken at length about his upcoming narrative-driven supernatural thriller, Beyond: Two Souls, but we haven't seen much in the way of actual gameplay. That changed when Quantic Dream revealed a series of demos at a conference in Paris, hitting all the game's bullet points with an alpha build of the game. There are a number of similarities to the studio's previous title, Heavy Rain, but Cage stressed that Beyond is a new game on a new engine. And it shows - gone are Heavy Rain's choreographed quick-time-based combat sequences, replaced by a slightly more open-ended choreographed combat system.
The developer walked through several hands-off demos spread across several distinct stages of protagonist Jodie's life. The most spoiler-free was a section in which Jodie fights through a sparring match in a gym, giving us a glimpse of Beyond's combat. Unlike Heavy Rain, which flashed on-screen button prompts for every action, Two Souls adopts a sort of bullet-time system. Every time Jodie's opponent starts to make an attack, time briefly slows to a crawl. During this time, the player simply moves the right analog stick in a direction to counter the incoming blow, and Jodie reacts accordingly. It isn't clear whether the player has direct control over when Jodie chooses to strike or if her actions follow a pre-scripted sequence, but the right-analog bullet-time mechanic seems to drive all the action.
Of course, physical challenges are only half of Beyond's toolbox. Jodie is slightly psychic, and befriends a ghost named Aiden who can help her in a number of ways. In a scene from Jodie's childhood, we see her undergoing a number of lab tests to examine the strength of her psychic connection. With the press of a button, players transfer from Jodie's perspective to Aiden's. The camera shifts to a fuzzy first-person as Aiden flies around the environment, passing through walls and throwing objects with telekinetic blasts. He can also see auras around humans (living and otherwise), trigger useful flashbacks from their pasts, and possess certain characters.
The third demo was a sequence from later in the game, which consequently contains some spoilers, but showed how the mechanics play off of each other in more open-ended scenarios. At one point, Jodie must escape a raging fire. Aiden peers into the memories of a nearby corpse, revealing the location of a fire extinguisher. He then moved safely through the flames to push the extinguisher over to Jodie, who used it with the standard right analog stick controls. It appears to blend pretty seamlessly between Jodie's physical actions and Aiden's incorporeal abilities, though much of that will be dependent on clever level design.
Beyond: Two Souls is slated for an October 8 release, exclusively on the PlayStation 3.