An evening with BEYOND Two Souls at the Tribeca Film Festival

Late Saturday evening I was eagerly awaiting my entrance to the Tribeca Film Festival official screening of Sony Computer Entertainment’s upcoming title “BEYOND: Two Souls”.
Along with the new gameplay trailer there was a panel discussion that included Game Director David Cage, Ellen Page and supporting cast members Kadeem Hardison and Eric Winter. Many PS3 owners have been eagerly awaiting Quantic Dream’s follow-up to their hit 2010 PS3 title ‘Heavy Rain’. This year “BEYOND: Two Souls” was recognized as an “Official Selection” by the Tribeca Film Festival for the game’s impact on the Future of Film. It’s an incredible honor for a video-game to obtain and pays tribute to the in-depth stories that Quantic Dream delivers, along with the positive impact that video-games can have on the artistic community.
As I mentioned before, the panel included Ellen Page (Juno, X-Men), but the game also stars Willem Dafoe (Platoon, Spider-Man), Kadeem Hardison (A Different World, The Dark Party) and Eric Winter (The Ugly Truth, The Mentalist). The game won’t be released until October 8, 2013 but you can get a sneak peak at the game with the new trailer “Breathe Me” that premiered last night.

The story of “BEYOND: Two Souls” (no spoilers ahead) is a somber tale that is told out of sequence and with locations that scattered throughout the world. At the center of the experience is 15 year-old Jodie Holmes (played by Ellen Page). The game is directed as a cinematic experience, something that fans of Quantic Dream’s earlier work will truly appreciate. Jodie is partnered with scientist Nathan Dawkins (played by Dafoe) who discovers a unique connection to a mysterious entity. This is the heart of the game, and the catalyst of the game’s incredible story-line. Just like Quantic Dream’s earlier work the content is designed to both stimulate the player and force the player to ask themselves some very difficult questions, Furthermore, it will require the player to explore each of those answers hopefully beyond just the cut-scene. Spirituality, human depravity, the definition of life and death, all of these themes are woven into the story-line as players continue their journey with Jodie and Dawkins.

After the screening members of the press were invited to the panel where Ellen Page , Kadeem Hardison and Eric Winter sat to discuss their take on the game, and discuss the finer points of their characters and settings (without giving too much away of course). The entire panel was moderated by video game journalist Harold Goldberg. Many of the questions were centered around the difficulty of transitioning from film or television and portraying a character on a video-game. One of the center talking points was the motion-capture, and how it affects an actor’s performance. “This has been a really intense and exciting experience for me, and one that I am extremely proud of,” said Ellen Page . “I’m excited to see everyone’s reaction to the extended scene we are going to be screening – and to feel the powerful emotion that David Cage instills in all his games.”
“This is a momentous event both in the world of gaming and in the history of the Tribeca Film Festival,” said Willem Dafoe in an earlier statement. “BEYOND: Two Souls tells a beautiful story and the players can wholly participate in each scenario and choose the characters’ action. This game is unlike any project that I’ve ever been involved with before.”
Players should be more than impressed with the acting talents in the room, but just as impressive is the technology used to recreate their performances onscreen. “Quantic Dream is incredibly proud to share this vision of storytelling in games that redefines and breaks the boundaries of what games can achieve. We hope that BEYOND’s recognition as an Official Selection of the Tribeca Film Festival will only act as a catalyst to create more emotionally-charged games that explore mature themes,” said David Cage , founder of Quantic Dream.
There was an exclusive scene shown to us at the Festival, it was called “Homeless”. I truly wish I could make you watch it, then sit down and discuss so much of it with you, for it’s an amazing accomplishment to witness. The physical boundaries that video-games have overcome in the last few years are providing developers an unprecedented medium to deliver their work, and I think Quantic Dream is at the head of that charge.
Although the story strays into the paranormal, the emotional and self-indulging moments of the game are quite relatable. Everything about the game is based on relationships, connections not just to others in our life but spiritually and personally. I haven’t played the game yet, so I’m forced to wait just like everyone else to see how it plays out, I will say that I admire the story-driven focus and the sense of realism that I’ve seen so far. Not just with graphics and processors but with emotion and with true-to-life characters and performances.

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