In previous demos we’ve seen how the strong connection between Jodie and Aiden manifests itself in asynchronous game play, with players able to switch between the two to utilise their individual abilities. In co-op, all of this remains the same except that players have the choice of passing control of Aiden to their sofa-buddy. There’s no separate mode or specific option that needs to be selected to facilitate this, play is simply passed to the second controller, be it a second DualShock pad or something else entirely.
It’s this “something else” that formed the second of Cage’s feature announcements. Cage commented that a controller, with its triggers, sticks and multiple buttons, is a barrier to entry for people unaccustomed to video games. Cage posited that the non-gaming masses are much more comfortable with the touch input of smartphones, which is why Quantic Dream has created Beyond: Touch; a free app for iOS and Android devices that allows them to become controllers for Beyond: Two Souls via a wi-fi connection with the PS3.
The app requires the iOS or Android device to be turned sideways and then, by tracing a thumb around the screen, it can be used to direct movement in the same way that the left analogue stick does on the DualShock. Similarly, the gesture-based actions that are performed by the right analogue stick also translate directly to the touch screen, while tapping the minimal interface’s only visible button acts as the trigger to switch control back to Jodie and, in this example, the other player. What’s more, Beyond can be played with any combination of DualShock’s and iOS/Android devices, be it one of each or two of both but, tellingly, this feature will not be available on PS Vita.
It’s worth noting that Beyond: Touch feels like it solves a problem that Quantic Dream has already moved to eliminate by other means. While Heavy Rain was littered with on-screen button prompts and occasional finger contortions that served to baffle those unfamiliar with a standard controller, Beyond has replaced this system with a more intuitive gesture-based method mapped to the right analogue stick. Nonetheless, PS3 owners that only have one DualShock and would like to include a smartphone-owning acquaintance in their gaming sessions will be amongst those that benefit most from Beyond: Touch.
Cage spent the remainder of the presentation showing off two sections of the story. The first was a montage of potential outcomes from the Hunted trailer. Here, Jodie was shown being apprehended by two police officers conducting stop and search checks aboard a train, before showing the alternative of her acting early to evade their grasp. In a later scene she was shown being knocked unconscious by a SWAT team while its polar alternative depicted Jodie and Aiden laying waste to those attempting to capture her.
The only new gameplay came from Jodie’s investigation of a lab in which jump-scares and the gory aftermath of an unseen event form what Cage says is the game’s single horror section. The tense atmosphere wasn’t diminished by Cage’s admission that Beyond doesn’t feature a single Game Over screen because he also admitted that it is possible for Jodie to die, although in all likelihood this won’t be a possibility until towards the end.
Ultimately, there was little of Beyond: Two Souls’ Gamescom showing to allay the suspicions of those that remain unconvinced by Cage’s latest attempt at interactive drama. Nor was there anything to unduly worry those who are keenly anticipating its arrival. Consequently, Beyond: Two Souls remains a title that is sure to prove divisive, regardless of whether it’s played alone or with another and irrespective of the control method. The one certainty in all of this is that David Cage wouldn’t have it any other way.