A snippet from the prologue of Heavy Rain, which later became known as the “Press X to Jason” meme
In 2010, French video game studio Quantic Dream published Heavy Rain on the Playstation 3, their first exclusive for the console. The main draw to the title was its storyline, which followed four individuals from four different walks of life as they worked to unmask the entity of the ‘Origami Killer’, a person known to abduct young boys and put their fathers through a series to trials to show their dedication and desire to rescue their sons.
Heavy Rain was not your ordinary gaming experience but instead drew much attention and acclaim (Including from myself) for being a strong example of interactive storytelling. A genre that has been growing in interest over the past few years and only become viable on this generation of consoles, interactive storytelling simplifies gameplay mechanics and in turn makes it feel like the viewer is watching a film that is under their control. Similar to “Choose Your Own Adventure Books” from the 90’s and early 00’s, the gamers actions can lead to very different outcomes – with Heavy Rain in particular having seventeen, some with the Origami Killer coming out on top, some with the “heroes” on top, and everything in between.
While more than a three year break stands between Heavy Rain and their next title BEYOND: Two Souls, Quantic Dream are finally set to publish the interactive storytelling experience next month. Featuring more action oriented tones than its predecessor, BEYOND: Two Souls will once again be an interactive psychological thriller, although rather than four characters experiencing the world in a non-linear fashion, it will focus primarily on a fifteen year time span of Jodie Holmes, a young woman who possesses a psychic link with an invisible, and relatively powerful entity.
In celebration of their upcoming release of BEYOND: Two Souls, Sony Computer Entertainment Australia earlier this week hosted BEYOND The Game: Live Forum in Sydney. This event saw film and gaming industry experts from across the globe, including Australia, come together to discuss the interactive drama genre within the entertainment industry.
David Cage, pretty much the man-in-charge of Quantic Dream’s titles travelled from Paris to join the panel. Cage spoke of his personal experiences through the development process of BEYOND: Two Souls, which stars Hollywood greats, Oscar nominee Ellen Page (Juno and Inception) and Willem Dafoe (Platoon and Spiderman) as the leading roles in the game.
Motion Capture Trailer
Other speakers included Hollywood casting director Suzanne Goddard-Smythe who was responsible for selecting the main cast of BEYOND: Two Souls. She spoke about the evolving requirements of actors and the skillset needed to remain competitive with the emergence of this new entertainment category. Given that this title used motion capture in its entirety, this certainly wouldn’t have been an ordinary voice acting job you would expect from most video games.
Sydney natives Nicholas Clifford, 2013 Tropfest winner and film director, and Sydney University film lecturer, Dr Bruce Isaacs, rounds off the panel by bringing their own specialist insights into the conversation. The evening and a live audience Q&A was hosted by Logie Award winning Australian actor and writer, Robert Carlton.
“BEYOND: Two Souls is by far the most ambitious title Quantic Dream has worked on to date” says David Cage, “We wanted to create this emotional journey into the life of a character and tell her story through fifteen years. Blending the frontiers between video games and films was one of the challenges we had to face: we wanted to create an experience that would be fully interactive with a strong story that the player would tell through his actions rather than through cut scenes”
Of course, reading all that you would be none the wiser about what was actually discussed right? The video below is not a simple game trailer but an entire one hour twenty minute recording of the event. Worthwhile a look if you have the time to spare.