Quantic Dream's Beyond: Two Souls will allow players to shape their own game experience through making choices — but they won't always be aware of when they're making a choice, according to creative director David Cage.
Speaking to Polygon, Cage said the action-adventure drama game will feature "implied choices," which means players won't be presented with binary options or obvious paths when they're playing the game. Rather, it will be seamless and most players won't even realize they're making a decision that will affect the outcome of the game.
"What we're trying to do is emulate life," Cage said. "Which sounds very arrogant and ambitious, but at the same time the ultimate goal is to have an experience that will be like life is. This is also why we create games where we often ask players to play the game as one walkthrough instead of going back to replay sections to get a different result — to keep up and bear with the consequences of their decisions because this is how life goes."
"The ultimate goal is to have an experience that will be like life is..."
According to Cage, the idea for having seamless choices was inspired by the concept of having a game that mimics real life. Binary choices that are black and white don't exist in real life — they come in various shades of gray — and this is how Beyond: Two Souls tries to present them.
In one example of Cage's implied choices in action, the player controls Jodie Holmes, the game's protagonist, on the night where she is having a date with a guy she likes. She has an hour before he arrives at her house and nothing is prepared: her apartment is a mess, she hasn't prepared any food and she's wearing an old t-shirt. Without receiving any prompts or being asked if they want to do one thing or another, the player can either tidy the house and get ready for the date, distract themselves with one of many things in Jodie's apartment or do nothing at all. Depending on which path the player takes, the game will play out differently when he date arrives.
"If you choose to do nothing, when your date turns up it might be a very short scene," Cage said. "The guy might come in and then leave early because he won't feel comfortable. Or you can just prepare everything and create a romantic atmosphere and he may stay. But this is not the end of it, because many things can still happen. None of these outcomes are revealed to the player — they just do what they feel like."
In another section of the game, Jodie is on a train trying to avoid the authorities. In the first playthrough, she successfully evades them, while in another it ends in a confrontation where she ends up climbing out of a moving train. There are whole scenes in the game players may not see because of the decisions they've made, and many won't realize this until they talk to other players.
"We spent a lot of time doing user tests and a lot of people who played it said it felt really linear because there were no obvious choices presented to them," Cage said. "But that's because everything was organic and implied. They didn't see the choices. It's only when they talked to other players and compared their playthroughs that we got this water-cooler effect where they realized how their journey was different to somebody else's.
"The biggest pleasure is when you have two players talking about their journey as it it was something that happened to them personally," he said. "And this is what I got from players who played Heavy Rain and now Beyond is like they talk about it like it happened in real life, it's not just a video game.