As I get older, the deluge of first person shooters and mindless action games less and less thrills me. The indie scene has been able to effectively create a safe space for gamers like me, but every once in a while a studio will offer up a AAA experience that really gets my blood pumping…you know, from a great story. Most recently, Quantic Dream has been the studio for gamers looking for unique experiences to flock to. Sure, there are those who don’t get why Heavy Rain is a masterpiece, but there are games out there for everyone. With the announcement of their newest title, Beyond: Two Souls, Quantic Dream looks to continue their journey to offer gamers compelling dramatic narrative.
It’s very rare that a game company comes along like Quantic Dream. A French company built upon the extraordinary ideas of founder David Cage, Quantic Dream has created some of the most unique and emotionally arresting games to ever grace consoles. Their 2010 award-winning hit, Heavy Rain, effectively gave dramatic storytelling in games a much-needed jolt. And in 2013, they seek to tread the same dramatic ground in their recently announced Beyond: Two Souls. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, don’t be embarrassed, simply check out the trailer here. Sony unveiled Beyond at their 2012 E3 press conference, and it was arguably one of the defining moments of the three conferences.
Quatic Dream has learned a lot in its more than ten years in the business, starting with their odd David Bowie-featuring PC game, Omikron: the Nomad Soul. Ever since then, David Cage and his team have strived to perfect their unique take on gaming, with Heavy Rain being the most successful in terms of the combination of gameplay and storytelling. These games tend feature quick time events, and these events usually achieve something that many games don’t – they don’t come off as gimmicky. Instead, they are effective and dramatic ways to control the action. Those who played Heavy Rain, specifically the sequence of driving the car into traffic, will know how this feels.
Five years before Heavy Rain, Quantic Dream released Indigo Prophecy – or Fahrenheit for you Europeans – and though the game is deeply flawed, it is a perfect example of Quantum Dream’s ambition, even if they did reach a tad too far. I’m not here to spoil anyone’s fun, but I find it difficult to talk about the game without mentioning the quirky and bizarre tutorial, as guided by a digital version of Cage himself. Like Heavy Rain, Indigo Prophecy involves flawed and sometimes unbalanced characters trying to fight against seemingly impossible odds. By the looks of the trailer shown at E3, Beyond will feature those same hallmarks. With the addition of Ellen Page, of course. And that’s always a plus.
All games that are spotlighted at E3 are under pressure to match the hype, but Beyond has a nice little twist in that department: not only was Beyond the first game shown, it’s also an exclusive from a studio that creates games that barely fit into the mainstream idea of video games. In other words, the pressure is present, and it is immense. But it’s also exciting as hell. I could use this space to talk about how important it is for Beyond to match gamer’s expectations – or at least come close – but I’m finding it difficult to muster up the doom and gloom here. This is genuinely exciting. It is fantastic to see that a company that creates some of the strangest and unique games can find not only success, but be backed by a major company like Sony.
Within the video game medium I can be a space marine (a thousand times over,) a demon hunter, zombie killer, bad-ass action movie mofo, but with Quantic Dream I can also be a dad just trying to rescue his son. I can eschew common action trappings and still experience real, sometimes terribly stressful action. Beyond looks like it will feature more action than previous titles, but it’s all brought on by a seemingly normal girl who wants to be left alone. Well, she has a dark side too. Gotta have that dark side. For gamers looking for something different, I highly suggest following the exploits of David Cage and Quantic Dream. Some of the most stunning examples of what this industry is capable of can be found in their games.
Post contributed by Rueben Levine. Questions for the author? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.