Beyond: Two Souls – the screen never fades to black, there's no inspirational quote in sight, and, most importantly to creator David Cage, the story doesn't come to a complete stop.
"I've always felt that 'game over' is a state of failure more for the game designer than from the player," Cage told me at Gamescom. "It's like creating an artificial loop saying, 'You didn't play the game the way I wanted you to play, so now you're punished and you're going to come back and play it again until you do what I want you to do.' In an action game, I can get that – why not? It's all about skills. But in a story-driven experience it doesn't make any sense."
Instead, Cage said he focused on giving consequences to failures without hindering the narrative. In one scene, two police officers hunt down Jodi, the protagonist, on a moving passenger train. Jodi is able to circumvent the officers and run away, leading to an intense standoff on the roof of the speeding train. "Failing" this scene means the cops capture Jodi before she has a chance to bolt, and in the standard video game design scheme, this would mean cut, fade to black and try again. In Beyond, players are given an alternate story path, this time where Jodi is locked in a train car with the officers standing guard, and she has to escape.
Players who "fail" the train scene won't see the rooftop battle, but those who "beat" it won't experience the escape narrative. In at least one of these scenarios, a path can lead to Jodi's death. This raises a question that humankind has asked itself for eons: What happens when we die?
"It's a game about death, so you can imagine that death plays a role in all of this," Cage said. "Actually, it's one of the big discoveries – one of the big mysteries in the game is to discover what's on the other side. And it's definitely not a black screen."