I don’t get the David Cage hype. The crazy French mind behind Omikron: The Nomad Soul, Fahrenheit (Indigo Prophecy), and Heavy Rain is hailed for his attempts to transcend the genre and create more emotional gaming experiences while brow-beating his colleagues to ‘advance the art’. Notice I said ‘attempts’, because while Cage has a problem with being called a frustrated would-be director that Hollywood wouldn’t have a second interview with, that’s exactly what his work casts him as.
Unveiled last week at the Tribeca Film Festival, David Cage showed off a massive thirty-five minute slab of what will ultimately be a “ten-hour experience”. In this reveal – which features minor spoilers – you play a desperate Ellen Page (well, her character) who’s on the run in a snowy New York where cars don’t leave tire treads. These games are apparently designed on the cheap, which is how Cage can usually get away with such borderline crazy narratives, but his dollars are cast in the direction of facial animation instead of world detail. Seeing tears on her cold-ravaged face is exciting, seeing the inside of a grocery store that could’ve been rendered on the original Xbox not so much.
But that’s picking nits. Like previous games, David Cage is interested in a choose-your-own adventure style narrative that you play once and that’s your experience. People were hot for the inaugural trailer at E3 last year and his trope-y blandness could not satiate me. What we see from this new, lengthy scene is endearing to a degree, but we see the David Cage supernatural fallback he resorts to in virtually every one of his games. This takes what would’ve been a believable, if melodramatic, story and skews it toward the weird as you play with Jodie’s magical powers. To their credit, Page gives a great performance throughout; heck, everyone does some good work here. Where things might go south is in what Cage scratched onto their script, which tops two thousand pages in total.
If you’ve got half an hour-plus, check out the vertical slice below. Beyond: Two Souls arrives in October for the PlayStation 3.