My name is Holmes. Jodie Holmes.
Once upon a time there was a young woman named Jodie Holmes. She was blessed with incredible psychic powers, which allowed her to connect with a supernatural entity called Aiden. And, um… that’s all we’re going to say here, spoiler alert! Beyond: Two Souls is one of the flagship titles of Quantic Dream, a multi-year production that involved dozens and dozens of people. Announced at E3 2012, this game, initially exclusive to the PlayStation universe, has recently been brought to PC by our teams (it’s available here ). It features several big names from Hollywood, including star Ellen Page, who plays the lead character Jodie. During the game, numerous sidelines offer players the opportunity to influence her destiny; and from this typical narrative signature of our studio’s productions, we were able to draw up her global portrait. But before going into details, let’s take a moment to retrace her origin story with David Cage, who gave her shape in the depths of his imagination.
David, you wrote and directed Beyond: Two Souls; when and how did you come up with the idea of the Jodie Holmes character?
It’s a long story…
My mother has had paranormal experiences all her life, she has premonitions and she believes deeply that there is a whole invisible universe of spirits around us. It’s something that has marked me since I was a child, and I had been thinking about creating a story around this idea for a long time. What interested me was to give a scientific explanation to this mythology, to treat it as a physical reality. I was also fascinated by the experiments carried out by the Russian and American secret services in the 1950s to determine whether psychics and extralucids could be used for military purposes. In 1939, it was Messing, Stalin’s seer, who predicted victory over Nazi Germany and the date of German surrender. In the 1970s in the United States, it was the “Stargate” project that brought together a small group of psychics within the CIA to try to predict events from a distance, a group that would be active for more than 20 years.
After a big phase of research in the paranormal, the military field, but also quantum physics, I imagined the character of Jodie Holmes, a little girl who lives between the two worlds since the day she was born. I wanted to tell how she was going to live with her difference at different ages of her life and learn to accept herself. What I found fascinating was how this approach finally allowed everything to be explained rationally. In ancient times, people thought that rain and thunder came from the gods, before a physical explanation for these phenomena was discovered. The idea that death and paranormal phenomena could be related to the same logic really fascinated me.
Jodie has a connection with a spirit that lives “on the other side”, which is both a part of herself and a kind of burden that prevents her from leading a normal life. This idea of someone who suffers from being who she is, was really exciting for me. Rather than treating it as a kind of “superpower”, I preferred to make it a burden. Jodie would have preferred to be “like everyone else”, but she has to accept that she is who she is, which is a universal theme. Rather than a story about the afterlife, Beyond is a story about accepting yourself as you are.
Beyond:Two Souls lets players choose some of Jodie’s behaviors. On your side, what was the personality you had in mind for her?
I wanted to both create a character with a strong personality, and let the player contribute to the characterization to decide how Jodie would react at different important moments in her life. The idea, as in all Quantic Dream games, was to tell a story not “for” the player, but “with” the player, and to build that character together. It starts with scenes from childhood or adolescence where the player has to decide how Jodie will react to the abuse she is experiencing from other teens, until adulthood when she will be faced with a decisive choice that will give meaning to her whole life.
Jodie is a sensitive and courageous person, someone who can’t live with her invisible half… but she can’t live without it either. She is someone between two worlds, someone who struggles to accept herself and find her place, and become who she is. She’s been an absolutely fascinating character to write about for all these reasons.
How do you look at her today?
I really loved working on this project, from writing to collaborating with Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe. They both delivered outstanding performances and brought a lot to the characters. I was also struck by the way many players were impressed by their experience and the themes developed in the game. Beyond is a very special experience, very different from classic video game stories in terms of the themes it addresses and the emotion Ellen brought to the character. It’s a game that I’m particularly proud of and that was a real turning point in my way of writing and directing.
There you have it, Jodie’s origin story; thank you David! Now, with that in mind, let’s get back to our global portrait. Because there’s of course the Jodie that each person draws by playing the game, with one’s very own choices, but there is also the Jodie that emerges by adding up all the games played around the world! Let’s take a look at that.
Based on these worldwide results, we can start by saying that overall, Jodie is not very greedy, since nearly 90% of the players chose not to make her eat a cookie, even though almost 8 times out of 10 she does not refuse to cook a good little dish! She also pays attention to her look: 7 times out of 10, she takes care to dress nicely. On the other hand, she seems less trendy in shoes, since more than 80% of the time she didn’t even notice the shoe box.
As you can see, Jodie is also an inspired artist: when she can draw, she goes for it! It seems that artists often blossom in chaos, though she doesn’t: 80% of the time, she cleans the apartment. Is a cultivated and orderly personality emerging? Let’s see: she opts for politeness, more than 70% of the times she has the choice to do so. But then again, she doesn’t fail to keep an impertinent attitude from time to time, choosing for example to wake up Cole 9 times out of 10. Not so
Cole cool. Polite and disciplined then, but with a playful side! This little rebellious side is reflected in her transportation choices: she prefers to ride a motorcycle when possible, even if she can also be motivated to take a walk in the forest. She still knows how to set limits, for example by avoiding spying on people in her close circle, as well as strangers in a bar. Born to be wild, but with respect.
To sum up, Jodie is well educated, with a strong artistic sensibility, a foodie and fashionista, with a salty rather than sweet tooth, who can
tend to adopt a slightly rebellious attitude, but with the right amount of restraint.
She also favours motorcycling to get around, above all. When you think about it, it makes sense, since she’s not especially into shoes!
Oh, and she also can be romantic at times, but not too much. Want to know more about Jodie? Well, you’ll have to (re)play the adventure!