The Average Gamer

E3 2012 – Beyond: Two Souls – First Impressions

The brief glimpse into the world of Beyond: Two Souls that Sony revealed to the world during their E3 2012 Press Conference on Monday left many of us in the audience with a ton of questions. How do you play the game? What or who is Aiden? How different is this to Heavy Rain?
Beyond: Two Souls - Possession
Away from the hustle and bustle of the E3 show floor, there was a demo build of the game containing previously unseen levels which gave more of an insight in to the relationship between Jodie Holmes and Aiden, her mysterious companion. Also there maybe a few minor plot spoilers below.

The game runs on a more mature version of the engine that powered the amazing Kara demo shown earlier in the year so it looks incredible. There is a real lifelike quality to everything on screen. From Jodie’s body, facial features, cuts, bruises, clothes to even her bottle of water. This is real life, with a supernatural twist.

From what I saw the control system is the same as Heavy Rain. You move Jodie around the world using the left controller stick with quick time (QTE) events appearing at various points, usually in the action sequences, which involve pressing a certain button, or a combination of buttons within a time limit. The success or failure of these QTEs will shape your game, or rather Jodie’s life (between the years 8 to 23). I was told that there will be a lot more “paths” to the story in Beyond: Two Souls, more so than in Heavy Rain.

Jodie isn’t the only character you get to control in the game. There is something else – Aiden.

At practically any point in the game you can switch control from Jodie to Aiden by holding down L1 and pushing two control sticks downwards. The camera then switches to a first person view as you move around using the SixAxis controller.

In Aiden’s ethereal form you can go anywhere and through anything within your immediate surroundings. During the train sequence for instance, you can float through seats, people and doors but not outside the train. Also a virtual tether in the form of a sparkly blue line acts as a breadcrumb trail back to Jodie and a screen blurring effect stops you from wandering too far away.

Aiden also has the ability to “possess” and control people who are surrounded by a yellow aura. This was graphically illustrated when I was shown Aiden possessing a member of the S.W.A.T. team who were hunting down Jodie and forcing him to blow his head off using his own gun. Or the scene which was a bit like something from Terminator 2 with Aiden doing his best T-1000 impression by taking control of a police helicopter – pilot – and then crashing it into the ground. Kaboom!

When a person has a white aura, they can’t be possessed but they can be spooked by some superntural event. A simple blast of your telekinetic powers will do just the trick as using them you can shift a whole variety of objects around the world like water bottles, cups of coffee and even vehicles as your powers become stronger.

While in spirit form you can also eavesdrop on people’s conversations and maybe garner that extra bit of information. I liked it when Aiden was just poking around in the boot of a police car seeing what they had inside. It was only a petrol can this time. But, if Jodie were to fire a shot into the boot of that car it would cause a powerful explosion.

The mechanic of controlling two interchangeable characters adds a whole new level of complexity to the game. With the police hunting Jodie, you can’t just leave her in a corner to go and float around the beautifully detailed environments as Aiden as she’ll get captured. You have to work together to solve puzzles, escape from the police and survive.

An example of this co-operation occurred during Jodie’s escape from the police while travelling on a train. After being chased down a corridor she ends up hiding in a toilet. But as she’s not strong enough to open the hatch in the cubicle ceiling you have to blast it open using Aiden’s telekinesis powers. Only then can she escape on the roof of the moving train and into a dangerous fight with yet more police officers.

Thanks to Aiden, Jodie can also use a magic energy shield that protects her for a short time against gunfire and explosions. Obviously, you won’t be able to use the shield all the time but it will be interesting to see how the developers ration the use of the shield, as it is a potential game breaker.


There was so much to enjoy and admire in the Beyond: Two Souls demo. There’s been a huge graphical leap from Heavy Rain, particularly in the areas of facial animation, skin textures and clothing. Jodie’s eyes look amazingly realistic and avoid the glazed look that plagues many CGI characters. Even though this was unfinished code, it was a hugely impressive peek into the dark, disturbing and perilous world of Jodie Holmes and Aiden. Roll on next year.

Beyond: Two Souls will be released in 2013 for PlayStation 3.

More of our E3 2012 coverage here, which will include hands-on previews and developer interviews.