“The eyes are the windows to the soul.” Who hasn’t heard that phrase before? The team at Quantic Dream took that quite literally with their most recently released game, Heavy Rain. The team built up a whole new way to track and capture eye movements and the details to enhance the character driven story telling nature or “the soul” of the game. This was only one of the many things that were put into the game that changed how we view out media, and the next game from the developers, Beyond: Two Souls, looks like it may just do the same thing.
Heavy Rain was a difficult concept from the beginning: an adult, emotional, multi-layered and multi-character plot that you controlled through quick time events. Many gamers, myself included, find QTEs boring and in some cases, just pure laziness. However, Quantic Dream took this stereotype and expanded it to make the whole control system for the game based on these QTEs, but made it useful. Integrating it deep into the system and making it difficult in some situations was a breath of fresh air in the current climate of Call of Duty clones. I still remember the scene that had you stop the character from having an asthma attack, and the frantic button presses reflected that character’s crazed search for the relief to his troubles. In addition, it also opens up to you the possibility of multiple play styles on screen, making it easier to choose your path. This was a stroke of genius that very few developers would have risked a whole game on, and I bet that many of them would never have thought to integrate it in the same way that Quantic did.
There has been a debate recently about the need for good graphics in a game. Do we really need to have gorgeous graphics to tell a good story? The answer is no, but if you want to have a good story where you can see how things affect the character, then yes graphics are important. Heavy Rain went into so much detail that the developers wanted to map the actors’ eyes (like mentioned in the first paragraph). They obviously felt that, to convey the level of emotion that some of the characters from the game needed, they had to make it look as close as possible to how real people would react in the same situations. We feel for those men and women in the game. That is something that we don’t see often in today’s video games, and is something that will be explored further in Beyond: Two Souls, where Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe will ply their Hollywood trade to the characters. This will hopefully see even more emotion and empathy being shared between the gamer and the characters on-screen.
Even with Beyond still in development, the team at Quantic have been looking forward to how emotions can be displayed in a next generation environment. Look forward to this old man in a game soon:
Lastly, Quantic Dream seem to have the mindset that story, above all else, will make the game unique. A deep, compelling plot is not necessary for a game, as most mobile games are endless fun without even a hint of a story line. Will you remember these games in a few years time? Probably not. It hasn’t provided you with memorable plot twists, emotional connections built through deep character development, and moments that you will remember forever. Quantic made Heavy Rain memorable. You connected to the characters, and will you forget the finale and uncovering of the Origami Killer in a hurry? Even the tagline for the game “How far will you go to save someone you love?” invites the gamer to become attached and imagine themselves in the same situation, or how they would react. The new game will follow the character of Jody Holmes through her life from ages 8 to 23, a coming of age, overcoming your troubles story that will make you reflect on similar feelings that you may have experienced. Through a picture earlier today, the game’s script length had been revealed, giving us hope that the story will be the driving factor again in Beyond: Two Souls.
Quantic Dream have succeeded in transcending what we have become accustom to this generation. With the safe copycat games becoming increasingly popular, David Cage and his team have succeeded in moving forward how we think about games, how we play them and how we look at them. Will they continue with this next generation? I hope so.
What do you think?