There's no doubt that David Cage (the game director) has a peculiar attitude towards the video game industry. He's one of those few people who are truly trying to use games as a story-telling medium.
Narrative overshadows standard gameplay mechanics in his games. For this reason some say that products like Beyond: Two Souls are not games but interactive films. There are no health bars, controls (besides movement) are based on quick time events for the most part, cutscenes are long and constantly take the controls from a player.
In my view Beyond: Two Souls is still a game, nay, it contributes to the video games industry and somehow pushes the limits as regards to story-telling. There is a challange included in the game, you can decide what the character should say or do and it leads to different outcomes. I'm talking about a small scale now, where the reward can be an access to an extra scene or simply the fact that you managed to change some character's mind. Sure, it doesn't involve a whole lot of dexterity but the game tests you in different ways.
About the long-term outcomes. Heavy Rain (David Cage's title) was a masterpiece when it comes to multiple endings. A lot of victories and failures in single scenes have an impact on the ending so there are loads of them and they're varied. In Beyond, let's be honest, it's just a choose your own ending kinda thing. I think we should just appreciate the extra effort that went into scripting and producing them. It's not that bad as it seems. Once you are familiar with the game world and character's life, you are actually allowed to make a significant decision.
I'm not of the opinion that a narrative-strong game must have multiple endings. Look at The Last of Us (directed by Neil Druckmann), which by the way is so far the best example of story-telling in games. There's only one ending and it's totally fine. The point of that game is to tell the story and by game mechanics and design to make it more compelling (and sure as hell it is, it's the first game that I find truly touching), not to show what would happen if the characters made different decisions.
Back to Beyond. Even though it is a step forward in terms of improving the story-telling aspect in games, it's gonna take a while until some studio comes up with better ways to do it. I'm sure all the titles mentioned in this post contribute and inspire thus we should be happy to have them around (plus, we got to see another Ellen Page's performance!).
-- Jul 02, 2014 1:41 pm --
Grant Voegtle finally released a video on Beyond.