June 21, 2017

E3 2017 - Hands on with Playlink

E3 is a time when companies pop out new games like skittles from a bag, sometimes its new hardware, but sometimes, there is a company that likes to take the normal things and turn them on their heads to create something different and surprisingly this year it was PlayStation who did that.

Right off the bat, Playlink is a way for you and your friends to play games, without the need to own a controller per player, in fact everyone already has a controller, their mobile phone. At the event, only Sony phones were in use, but I was told iOS support is in the works as well, though no Windows phones plans at this stage. If you have your phone, then you can play the games, there were a selection of games available at E3 and they ranged from quirky party game, to quiz show and even a mystery game. Each game required a different app on the phone, so that is a little silly, a single app that you add to, would be so much better. But what about the games I hear you say, well we had four in total Frantics, Hidden Agenda, Knowledge is Power and That’s You, let’s start off with Hidden Agenda.

Hidden Agenda was the first game that we played and it is a murder mystery/ who done it type of game, where players will have to make a choice when prompted, but it’s not just waiting for those choices, there is more at play here. The game itself would only last around 2 hours, at least that was what I was informed by one of the developers, the game itself is being made by the same team that did Until Dawn, so that same level of visual wow is here as well. The game itself presented the first choice when the two responding police offers were deciding how to best enter the house, split up or stay together, to make your choice you use the touch screen of your mobile to move your little coloured dot to the box on the screen.

As the game progressed, new mechanics were brought into play, you could take control of a choice by spending one of your control cards and then no matter what other people do, your choice will cause the game to change direction. You can earn extra cards, if you happen to reach the requirements at the time, which can help you out, because at one point in our session, the game gave one player a Hidden Agenda, see that is where the name comes in. What made this cool, is that you are only given those details via the phone screen, so keeping them hidden is critical, what your hidden agenda is might change, it could be to sabotage a specific player, or even something as strange as do what you can to help another player win. The game is best played with friends that you know, or know you, because when someone thinks they know who had the hidden agenda, they can make a play for the win, by calling that person out, if they get it right, they get some goodies, if not they lose something.

Given the nature of how the game can change depending on choices made and the people you are playing with, this could be something that earns a ton of replay value over the months and year to come. If though, you are not into this type of game, maybe Frantics is more your style.

Frantics is a party game, if you think Mario Party, but controlled with your phone, you are right on the mark, but the game seems to have a distinct charm, with its Claymation inspired visuals. Before you get into the games, you need to take a photo of yourself, using high complex computer calculations and intelligence, your picture is scanned and your inner animal is revealed, which then becomes your avatar for the game.

The two mini games that were played both relied on motion control for the input method and they worked well enough, the winner of each game is given a crown and then at the end of the game, the person with the most crowns is the winner, but winning a game is not the only way to advance. Between the two games that were played, one of the players had a call come through by the games host, Mr Fox and that player was given a challenge, their challenge was to assist another player to win the next game and as they did, they along with the actual winner, both got crowns. Frantics might not be the most original game genre, but with the right people it could be fun.

The other two games that we got to play were, Knowledge is Power and That’s You, both being quiz style games, the difference between them of course is one in general knowledge and the other is personal knowledge. Both games are interesting and while Knowledge is Power is the stronger of the two, it still felt like just another quiz game, even if the power ups were interesting. That’s you was the weakest of all the games I played in the Playlink family, purely because this one does require you to have an idea of the people you are playing with, if I played this with friends, it could be different. Its core concept is the game will ask you a question and you need to guess out of the players who has done it, or who is the mostly likely to have done it, with questions like who would be someone who goes crazy when they have been drinking or such, interesting to be sure, but not really something you need a game for.

Playlink is a cool concept and if they market it correctly, PlayStation could be onto a real winner, the only downside is that with the lack of input methods that mobile phones have, the controls could be limited, which could stifle the game options, but as a way to have more non-gamers enjoy video games, it is a step in the right direction.

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