"We’re here to be pioneers. We’re here to take risks. We’re here to try new things," director David Cage exclaimed when he introduced Beyond in a behind closed doors presentation. Beyond follows Jodie who is tied to an invisible companion named Aiden from when she’s a child to her life as an adult. Players will see how Jodie, portrayed by Ellen Page, learns to live with Aiden throughout her life.
"Everybody knows after Heavy Rain that we can tell a story through gameplay, the question is more can we have action sequences with direct control," Cage said before showing live gameplay demo starting with Jodie Holmes sleeping on a train. Branded as a fugitive, Jodie is exhausted after being on the the run for weeks. The player can "see" Jodie drowsing off because you’re actually playing as her spirit sidekick Aiden. As Aiden, you can float around and phase through objects. While Aiden cannot pick up items, s/he(?) can charge up energy and aim it at a cup of coffee to annoy other passengers. Aiden, of course, has more useful abilities like flying through the train to spot police officers searching for Jodie and using a surge of energy to wake Jodie up by dropping a suitcase in front of her.
When the police start asking other passengers for ID, control switches over to Jodie. Beyond had Heavy Rain style pop up prompts to push a dining cart out of the way. Cage explained players will also be able to move Jodie around too, presumably with the PS3 controller’s analog stick. Jodie fought through a few guards using button prompts and made her way into a bathroom. The cops closed in on her and Jodie had to decide to either open a path to the roof herself or ask Aiden to do it. In the demo, Jodie called Aiden who blasted it with a burst of energy. Later Cage told me, Aiden can only assist Jodie during certain times so he can’t solve all of her problems.
Aiden can protect Jodie with a force field and shields Jodie when she leaps off the train. Jodie lands, noticeably injured, in a dark forest and the player. She continues to run and hides by climbing up a slippery rock formation. Like Heavy Rain, players need to hold down buttons to make Jodie pull herself up to evade the police. While she managed to throw police off her track, search dogs found Jodie and players had to fight them off using a stick. In the dramatic action sequence, buttons popped up to dodge and throw dogs that tried to maul Jodie.
The action level upped to Michael Bay levels when a SWAT team closed in on Jodie, forcing her to take cover behind a car. What has Jodie done to attract this kind of manhunt? Cage wouldn’t give all the details and just mentioned that she is wanted and perceived as a threat. With no way out, control switched back to Aiden who had the added ability to possess some of the guys with guns. If a character had an orange aura, Aiden can control them and Cage demoed this by possessing a sniper. Players can then shoot other SWAT members by pressing L1 and R1. One button is assigned to each character you can target and the game auto aims. After taking two men down, another SWAT member fires a bullet into the possessed person’s head ejecting Aiden from the body.
Aiden can also charge up enough energy to take out nearby lights and flip cars leaving a flaming wreckage behind. Players can also take over the mind of an officer with a grenade who will throw it at a gas station, which kills all of the SWAT members hiding inside. Aiden also has a more direct kill move, a spirit choke, which you can only do on enemies with a red aura. Midway through the action sequence, Aiden had to open a door for Jodie so she could hide and at the end Aiden controlled a helicopter pilot who you can make spin out of control by twirling an analog stick.
"Tell them to leave me the fuck alone. Because next time, I’ll kill everyone," Jodie threatened to a nearly unconscious SWAT leader before exiting the scene with Aiden.
After seeing the demo, I was curious how much of Beyond was scripted. Cage explained there are other ways to complete the scene and similar to Ethan’s escapes in Heavy Rain, Jodie can be caught by the police. I asked Cage if it was possible to take other paths in the forest and he confirmed since players are free running you can walk through a different path. However, Cage wouldn’t confirm if some events like the dog fight would show up in every path. "That’s a very technical question. I’m not sure I want to answer this," Cage replied. "Lets keep the smoke and mirrors for now."