The best feeling when you’re a games reporter is heading into a demo feeling like you know exactly what you’re about to see – only for your expectations to be completely shattered. Erica is one such game. Announced as part of Sony’s barnstorming Paris Games Week 2017 press conference this week, it looked like a Telltale-esque pick your own adventure with live actors. And it is in a sense, but it’s way more impressive than its trailer lets on.
Part of Sony’s fledgling PlayLink line, the title sees you using a smartphone to interact with the titular character and her world. The demo opens with a shot of a steamed up mirror, and wiping the touchscreen slowly reveals the intense countenance of the lead character. She’s been crying, and you’re able to physically wipe away her tears before tucking a lock of hair behind her ear. It’s very tactile and the tech is extremely impressive considering it’s all shot with live actors.
Transitions between scenes are seamless and elegantly handled like a movie, but developer Flavourworks always gives you something to interact with. For example, a shot of a long city street reveals various items of interest, which you’re free to select using the gyroscope on your smartphone as a kind of cursor. One really neat effect is that the scene will dynamically change focus depending upon what you’re looking at, which makes you the director of the shot.
The story is essentially about Erica and her traumatic childhood, with her memories potentially playing a role in the identification of a serial killer on the loose. It plays a little bit like a classic point-and-click: there are books you can read, puzzles to solve, and lore to absorb. What’s really interesting is just how tactile the world is; unlike similar games such as The Bunker which serve up a series of connected videos, this really does feel like a real world with depth that you can actually affect.
The question mark, then, is whether its writing and acting can match up to its ambition. The sets certainly look high budget and the actress playing the part of Erica seems to have mastered the art of looking vulnerable and uncertain, but one pantomime villain who appeared towards the end of our demo did seem like he was all too eager to ham things up, and that’s ultimately where the jury will be out. The tech, though, is extraordinary – and this is one to watch.
What’s your opinion of live action games? Do you think Erica sounds like an interesting idea? Tuck your hair behind your ear and share your thoughts in the comments section below.
I've played The Bunker and Late Shift and quite enjoyed them. I like the look of this and might give it a go, but I'm not really sure the PlayLink aspect is necessary. Would rather play with a DS4.
I don't even have a smart phone or an ipad so I find it unfair that so called PS4 games like this and the other by Supermassive games recently out are out of reach for gamers like myself unless we pay out for another gadget that should just be playable with a controller.
I love the PlayLink games. Most of my friends aren’t gamers but they sure do know how to operate their phone.
Hardcore gamers aren’t really the target audience for these games. They’re made to be inclusive and to act as a gateway for non-gamers.
Still need to finish The Bunker (couldn't really get into it the small portion I did play), but in general I'm all for these types of games/experiences. I'm a little sceptical that the acting will be a bit too serious for my liking, but I'm interested in the release for sure.
@Wazeddie22 Well their thinking is that the vast majority have smartphones these days.
wait why do you need smartphone if the DS4 has a touchpad
@DualWielding Because these games are meant to entice those that normally wouldn't play games, hence @glassmusic s comment.
@adf86 Yeah you are probably right but that's still no excuse to exclude the people that haven't.These games could easily use ps4 controllers.
Entice the non gamers AND keep the hardcore gamers.
@Wazeddie22 But that would make the PlayLink gimmick rather pointless if they did that. They might patch DS4 support later but right now their trying to get these games out first.
The 7" Fire tablet is $49.99 on amazon and can be used for much more than Playlink games.
@adf86 that doesn't explain why playing with a DS4 is not offered as an option for those who want it
They did say on PlayStation Access that you are able to play this game with just a Dualshock 4. Has that been unconfirmed?
@Wazeddie22 You can't play VR games without buying PSVR. This is really no different.
@Splat VR games take you to a whole new world of gaming and experience which is impossible to do without a PSVR where as Playlink is just normal games without the option of a PS4 controller..a bit different
@roe @adf86 @DualWielding @Wazeddie22 @Paranoimia I actually asked about DualShock 4 support and they said it'd be an option. They did the demo on a smartphone, though.
@get2sammyb Nice!See that wasn't too hard was it?Now if only all the Playlink games would have the option..
@Wazeddie22 Some of them simply wouldn't work.
@MadAussieBloke Meh, Push Square > Google
I was a bit skeptical on this but now after reading this, it definitely caught my interested.
I find the Playlink games to be incredibly underrated. That Quiz is fun to play with your family, Hidden Agenda still carries that Until Dawn charm, Knowledge is Power is the Buzz Quiz we all needed (and not that terrible trivia game called...well, That Trivia Game), and Singstar Celebration is surprisingly not that bad, especially when compared to Ultimate Party.
Has any of these PlayLink games even did well?
@Wazeddie22 No smartphone or tablet i cant even work without my phone.
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