Sony gave David Cage a lot of creative freedom in planning out his new game.
One of the general laws of the gaming industry is that a critically acclaimed game that sells well is just begging for a sequel. Like any other game, sequels can range from the sublime to the ridiculous, but it’s clear that some games don’t really need a follow-up. Heavy Rain, 2010’s narrative-driven, quick-time event detective story, was one of these games. Its murder mystery wrapped up pretty well, aiding both the game’s sales and its review scores. Demanding a sequel may have been a sensible business move for Sony, but it opted instead to give the game’s creator, David Cage, as much leeway as he wanted in making a new title. Thus, Beyond: Two Souls came to be.
“Many publishers, after the success of Heavy Rain, would have said, ‘Well, you need to do Heavy Rain 2,'” says Cage. “And we never had this conversation with Sony. They just asked me, ‘What’s next? What do you want to do?'” Unlike most creators working with AAA resources, Cage celebrates the fact that his patron has given him essentially no restrictions on Beyond: Two Souls. “I think this kind of project can only be made in complete freedom, because otherwise it’s not the same experience at all.”
At the same time, Cage acknowledges that he occupies a fairly unique position in game development. “Very few developers are in my position, so I feel incredibly fortunate to be here,” he affirms. “Usually, you make indie development, and you have limited resources, but you have freedom, or you work on a triple-A and you have the resources, but limited or no creative freedom. And I’m in the strange position where I have both.” Like Heavy Rain and Indigo Prophecy before it, Cage wants to give the gaming world something a little different and more mature than its everyday fare, so Sony’s support has been invaluable to him.
Letting an auteur work without creative constraints can easily go one of two ways: an unbridled masterpiece, or a pretentious train wreck. Of course, Beyond: Two Souls could defy both expectations and end up occupying the same middle-of-the-road inoffensiveness as many projects before it, but Cage has never really made a game like that before. Good or bad, Beyond: Two Souls should be interesting – at the very least, Sony thinks it will be.