The line between movies and video games has begun to blur in recent years. As the graphical power of consoles and computers has increased, so too has the ability of game designers to craft incredibly cinematic experiences for players. The "Call of Duty" and "Halo" games have been doing their best to mimic the explosive Michael Bay model of filmmaking for over a decade, but thankfully, not all top shelf games have aspired to such shallow depths.
Paris-based game studio Quantic Dreams turned heads a few years ago with their game "Heavy Rain," a crime thriller that, despite its shortcomings, pushed the boundaries of interactive storytelling and narrative. Leave it to the French to innovate -- they did it with film and now they're seemingly doing it with games.
This week, the studio unveiled their follow-up to "Heavy Rain" at the vaunted E3 expo in Los Angeles, inarguably the biggest showcase for mainstream gaming. The PlayStation 3 game entitled "Beyond: Two Souls" appears to be following in the photorealistic and highly cinematic footsteps of its predecessor, but has one thing that Quantic Dreams' previous game did not: A star.
As revealed by the E3 trailer for the game, Canadian actress Ellen Page ("Inception") is lending not only her acting talents to "Beyond," but her physical likeness as well. Page plays Jodie Holmes, the game's mysterious (and apparently telekinetic) main character. In the trailer, a very mum virtual (and buzz-cutted) version of Page is being interrogated by a small-town sheriff, although she doesn't really say much of anything until a SWAT team shows up to confront her. Check out the video game version of Page in action below.
The trailer for "Beyond: Two Souls" offers an interesting hook. However, the game's designer, David Cage, has repeatedly fallen short of the lofty claims that his video games -- essentially interactive films -- will revolutionize both gaming and cinema. If video game designers prides themselves on how cinematic games are, they should expect their game to be judged by cinema's standards. For all its merits as an interesting game, "Heavy Rain" would make a very poor movie, complete with clichéd plot, bad acting, and twists that would make even M. Night Shyamalan cringe.
Cage has corrected at least one of those mistakes by casting Page in the lead role of his latest project, though it remains to be seen if he'll repeat those other, more egregious storytelling errors. Playing Cage's previous games might give you the impression that the designer desperately wants to be a filmmaker -- but a few minutes with any one of his previous games will quickly reveal why he's not. Hopefully Page will inspire Cage to up his game, so to speak.
"Beyond: Two Souls" is scheduled for release in early 2013.