Wonderbook: Book of Potions

Wonderbook may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for families, and those of an inquisitive nature, it offers a totally new way to play games. The only problem, up until recently, was that there was only one title that used the novel peripheral, Wonderbook: Book of Spells.

Fortunately, last month saw the release of Wonderbook: Diggs Nightcrawler, a detective story with a fairytale theme, and soon we’ll see the BBC’s Wonderbook: Walking with Dinosaurs. The big news for the innovative reading platform came at this year’s E3, though, where Sony unveiled a new Wonderbook game from J.K. Rowling – Wonderbook: Book of Potions.

You would be forgiven for missing the announcement as it wasn’t part of the core-centric Sony keynote. However, for family gamers and Harry Potter fans this is still pretty big news. The title once again contains original content from Rowling, along with some new interactions and enhanced gameplay.

As you can see from the hands-on above, there is plenty to explore. First off, the book is used in a more integrated way this time around, with page turning and twisting motions having an effect on the play mechanics.

In one instance, you're tasked with finding some fruit on a tree using the PlayStation Move controller. Unfortunately, the tree is clearly bare. Turning the book around not only lets you explore the back, but also changes the seasons. Once you hit summer, you can then use the motion controller to pick the fruit and prepare your potion. Again, each of the broths has their own stories, told in cut-out theatre form. Although these are more like cut-scenes than actual gameplay, they add to the general feel of the experience, and will keep younger players entertained.

Talking to Russell Harding from London Studio, it was interesting to hear how the team had furthered the Wonderbook interactions since the first Harry Potter themed game. Drawing on the lessons from the original release and the aforementioned Diggs Nightcrawler, the studio was able to attempt more intricate interactions.

Of course this won’t necessarily appeal to core gamers, who may see Wonderbook as something of a distraction for Sony. However, this technology could easily be applied to other games with dramatic effect. Imagine leafing through the pages of a glossy car brochure in Gran Turismo, or using the book to access Nate’s notebook in Uncharted 4. Or, for families, maybe you could investigate your Skylanders stats via the book technology. There really are endless opportunities.

While it seems likely that kids will lap up Book of Potions, this particular author is also hoping that Sony leverages the technology in games for grownups, too.

Andy Robertson is a freelance gaming expert for the BBC and runs Family Gamer TV.