By now if you’ve bought and played Beyond: Two Souls you’ve probably completed the story at least once, and perhaps even tried out a few different playthroughs (or read about/watched the different outcomes via articles and videos on the internet). Whether you hated it or loved it or fell somewhere directly in-between (we gave it a positive review despite some flaws) you can’t deny a few interesting things about the game’s story, especially the ominous ending and host of mysteries and questions left in its wake.
So that makes me wonder: what’s next for BEYOND: Two Souls?
Note: MAJOR SPOILERS ahead. Read at your own caution.
Addressing The Cliffhanger Ending
No matter what choices players made during the game’s ten hour or so playthrough, BEYOND: Two Souls ended with one major and unavoidable consequence: the apocalypse.
With the several different epilogues one may earn, there’s always one of two outcomes: either Jodie prepares for the apocalypse alone, or prepares Zoey –the daughter of the once-homeless woman Tuesday– for the apocalypse. One of the two (or both) are always directly tied to the ending, which shows a look into a ruinous future, one where the world seems to have been devastated by some kind of supernatural, scientific, or combined disaster, with the shadow creatures you fight during the game flooding into the world.
Alone, Jodie merely mentions that she’s been seeing visions, a horrible nightmare that plays every night in her head about what’s to come. With Zoey, she very clearly names the young girl as the savior humanity will need to combat these evil forces, who also has visions of what’s to come.
But what’s to come?
A Change of Tone?
The most startling difference of the game’s epilogue compared to the rest of the story is the change of tone. Despite the pseudo-scientific leanings of much of the story and even the action-packed sequences showcasing Jodie and Aiden’s powerful abilities, much of the game was at its core a biopic, not unlike Wyatt Earp or Forrest Gump (just sans the tuberculosis and box of chocolates). The supernatural themes, at best, were still just tools to inspect the idea of death, and dissect the meaning and relationship it has for different people.
And then the epilogue comes, and there’s an almost Terminator-like feel to it, with Jodie the Sarah Conner and Zoey the John Conner of BEYOND, preparing for the worst in the upcoming war between humanity and…well, who knows.
But where most of BEYOND felt like, at most, Jodie versus a small elite clandestine military agency, the epilogue felt like Zoey against a world of foes, set up on a pedestal as a messianic “Chosen One” destined to save the world. Where Jodie spent much of her life as an experiment and a pawn, and later a rebel, Zoey is being given a more typical video game protagonist role. While we don’t know if she’ll be as exalted as Commander Shepard or as revered as Master Chief, we do know she’s on a higher platform than her predecessor, and against incredible forces.
But then one must ask: what else will be different about a BEYOND sequel?
With the handful of ways the last sequence could unravel, there’s definitely plenty of freedom for how the studio, and the talent, wishes to continue with the next Quantic Dream project. With Willem Dafoe’s Nathan Dawkins dead, Kadeem Hardison’s Cole Freeman possibly dead (depending on your actions), and Ellen Page’s Jodie, dead or alive, there’s a lot of wiggle room with how to approach the sequel and what to do if the actors and actresses want to move on, especially if they decide that another 2,000 page script is too much to handle twice.
With the narrative’s focus placed squarely on Zoey as the new heroine, the story could pick up at any time during her quest, or, like BEYOND‘s fifteen years following Jodie’s story, take gamers through a large portion of Zoey’s life. For example, it’s unknown whether the developers will use the model who portrayed the teenaged Zoey briefly at the end of the game, but if she was unavailable or ill-equipped to lead the story, a sequel could always pick up years later when Zoey is an adult. The game could also take players through Zoey’s early life after her mother gets her off the streets, to the time Jodie meets her (be it physically or ethereally), and beyond into the meat of the plot.
Really, the sky’s the limit, as long as the gameplay is solid. Although what mechanics will stay, be refined, or be added to a BEYOND follow-up are as unknown as anything else.
This extreme difference in range between Jodie’s trials and Zoey’s trials to come could mean a different set of mechanics. Quantic Dream’s gameplay has changed up considerably since their earlier days. From Indigo Prophecy (also known as Farenheit) to Heavy Rain to BEYOND, the way they’ve incorporated a cinematic appeal to an interactive medium has been refined little by little, with more attention to intuitive, under-the-hood gameplay than disruptive quick-time-event sequences.
But even with their improvements, there are still plenty of dissenters out there who don’t approve of Quantic Dream’s approach to video game experiences, claiming the studio’s idea of a game is a choose-your-own adventure movie. While these opinions may be a little erroneous (considering that the entire adventure game genre is generally based on an interactive narrative experience, and dates back to text-based adventure games of the 70s and 80′s), those opinions still hold plenty of weight in an industry and an era where support comes limited and publishers can’t take as many high-risks with triple-A standard games.
But there’s more to consider than the approach, like the actual controls. While in some ways BEYOND was a step above Heavy Rain‘s tedious controls, there were still plenty of moments during the game where interacting with people or objects was a little awkward, confusing and clumsy.
With what could be a large world (or universe, or multiverse) of possibilities, a BEYOND sequel must either perfect the way players interact with their avatar and the avatar’s world, or make bold steps to ensure the quality of the experience and push past their own mechanical and creative limits.
Which makes me wonder…
Omikron the Nomad Soul?
Back in 1999, a unique game came out, called Omikron the Nomad Soul. In it, players were introduced to the game through a decidedly meta prologue that literally tied their character to the protagonist of the game, who was pulled through his computer screen to take over the body of Omikronian officer Kay’l 669, in order to save the world.
As Kay’l 669, and later other individuals, the player could body hop into at will. Gamers followed an investigation and mystery that took them through the world of Omikron and its neighboring sectors with a mix of video game genres and a mix of sci-fi and supernatural fantasy, much like BEYOND.
The open world of Omikron was amazing for its time, with a portion of stores, residences, districts and locales to explore, and a variety of people to meet. Besides following the investigation, players could engage in recreational activities or side missions that switched up the genre such as first person shooting segments, swimming and 2D fighting game tournaments. This freedom was much like what gamers enjoyed two years later with the much lauded Grand Theft Auto III in 2001. While all of these activities weren’t as polished as they should have been, Omikron opened up a world of potential, one that could, on next-gen systems, make for a grand experience.
While Omikron took place on another planet, a prequel could still create ties with the previous game or be setting up for a reboot. Either way, fans like myself have been patiently awaiting for anything Omikron-related for well over a decade, so any connection would definitely be met with fanfare. It should be noted that there were once plans for an Omikron sequel, but after Quantic Dream changed publishers a few times and after the success of Indigo Prophecy, the team put plans on hiatus and instead followed up with Heavy Rain.
Between the BEYOND ending and the Kara short film, is it time for Quantic Dream to return to the future?
It may be far, far too early to talk about sequels when the game itself garnered so many mixed reviews. But Sony prides itself on its diverse and experimental games, and BEYOND, however divisive, was still an impressive feat and an even more impressive concept on paper. It’s these kind of bold steps that reward growth in any creative venture, especially one where safety equals stagnancy. Perhaps Quantic Dream’s answer lies instead on a happy medium between the two, a game with familiar foundations and appeal but still pushing past familiar tropes and trappings.
Either way, we have some time before any new announcements are made, so I guess we’ll have to wait and see the old-fashioned way. But if you played the game, where could you see BEYOND: Two Souls going?