In Two Souls, he suggests that the real tension is derived not from trying to complete various videogame-like challenges, or trying to avoid an untimely death, but from simply trying to give Jodie a happy ending of sorts: "For some people, 'game over' is probably a sign that they've succeeded or failed. But for most people out there who hopefully play Beyond, you just want the best possible story because you have this emotional connection with her, you want her to succeed. You want to do your best. And the thing is, that motivation is there, but I don't think we should really punish players if they aren't fast enough. You just offer a journey, and you want that journey to be frictionless. You decide your own path and your own journey, but it's not a series of obstacles that become harder and harder."
Because there's no such thing as 'death' in Cage's games, the rapid-fire conversation and movement prompts that pop up throughout each scene take on a different meaning. Most of the time, they are there to affect the tone of a scene, or the pacing. Jodie might accidentally anger a guy she's trying to woo by being too shy, for instance, or trip over a tree branch. The consequences of each action radiate throughout the rest of the scene, possibly resulting in, say, Jodie getting captured, or Aiden burning down a house. They also impact the overall story, particularly in the last third or so, but Cage is mostly focused on making their impact felt in the near term rather than the long term.
Of all the scenes shown during the Beyond: Two Souls demonstration, Jodie's flight from federal agents aboard a train is probably the best illustration of Cage's overall vision for the game. There are a dozen little moments that can change the scene at any given time, from whether or not Jodie successfully pushes aside a drink cart or suitcase, to whether she can get out the window in time. And it smoothly melds multiple gameplay elements into one, including a driving sequence in which Jodie attempts to escape by motorcycle.
Beyond may have action, but it's not about the industry's 'traditional expectations'
So Cage is pulling out all the stops to make us like Jodie, and interaction is an integral part of that. Even if we're only walking Jodie down the hallway, or flicking the right analog stick on a controller, the story still feels heightened with every interaction. And in a circular sort of way, if we're meant to care for Jodie, then eliminating the 'game' over' is important, as any interruption in the gameplay flow has the potential to hurt that feeling of immersion.
It's an intriguing way to build a videogame, and offers all sorts of interesting narrative possibilities outside of the usual summer action fare that tends to dominate big budget gaming. Even if the writing ultimately does fall flat, it's hard not to admire the ambition of a game that purports to show "all the different moments" of a girl's life over the course of 15 years, and non-chronologically at that (Beyond: Two Souls weaves its story by leaping between different points of Jodie's life).
There's a sense it will work though, and not just because the individual scenes have thus far been very well-constructed, absent a bit of 'hunt the context point' here and there (Cage's response: "Most of the time it's quite obvious what you want to do, and there are context points there to let you do it. So it's not like you have to explore every single pixel to find what you need to interact with"). It feels like it'll work because of its bigger and more ambitious than Heavy Rain, because it flows better, and because its scope is much greater than that of the traditional murder mystery, leapfrogging as it does across the world.
Mostly though, it feels like it'll work because of what Cage sees as the emotional connection it offers: "Jodie loves Aiden because when everyone else abandons her, he is always there. But at the same time, he is the one preventing her from having a normal life. So it creates this very interesting momentum of her trying to be just like you and I, and at the same time she has this power, and she can do so many things, but this is not what she wants for her life. What I like about this idea is that, of course, no one has a relationship with an entity, but we all wish we have something we could change in ourselves, or we wish we had a different life. And I thought to myself, 'Okay, this is the part that will resonate with people. That's the emotional connection."
If nothing else, it's a reminder that the line between interactive storytelling and plain, traditional storytelling is a blurry one, and that videogames may be finally getting to be good at both.
Beyond attempts to make Jodie a sympathetic character