If you’re looking for new party games, ones that could keep even the grumpiest non-gamer happy, Sony may just have what you need with their new PlayLink games.
In case you’re not aware, PlayLink is a new interactive way to play games on PlayStation 4, where the majority of gameplay takes place using your phone or tablet rather than the controller. It’s an interesting mechanic and the best part is that if you’re inviting friends over they’re going to have their own phone with them, whereas you may only have one or two controllers.
It works simply enough, each PlayLink game costs €19.99 each and the corresponding app for each game is free from the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store. Once your console and phone or tablet are connected to the same Wi-Fi network you’re good to go, or you can use your PS4 as a personal hotspot in case it’s using a wired connection.
I had the chance to try out three of the games for PlayLink, Hidden Agenda, Knowledge is Power and That’s You!, and there are currently seven available overall.
Hidden Agenda is an interesting one, it’s probably the most serious of the PlayLink games. You play as police officer Becky Marney and district attorney Felicity Graves, and you’ve got to track down a serial killer known as ‘The Trapper’. After a string of murders involving bomb-rigged bodies, it’s your job to find out who’s behind it all.
Using your phone, you select which action you’d like to do, steering the story in one way or another, while also collecting and examining clues from the crime scene. Your decisions do matter, and main characters can actually die before you find out who the killer is, giving the game a sort of Heavy Rain vibe.
You can play the story mode alone or with five other players, or competitive mode which requires at least two players. Story mode is really interesting because all players involved have to come to a majority decision in order to move the story along, something which is easier said than done at times.
At certain points throughout the game, your group will be asked questions such as “who’s the most trustworthy?” and the player with the most votes will be given control to make key decisions at certain turning points in the game, adding another layer of fun to playing with friends.
You can also accumulate ‘takeover’ cards which allow you to override other players’ choices to push your choice through if you want to brute force your choice ahead of others’.
The story itself is nothing ground-breaking but it’s interesting throughout and is a great idea if you’re looking for something a bit more serious and story driven, whether alone or with a friend or partner. If you like choice-driven, crime thrillers, it’s easy to recommend Hidden Agenda.
Knowledge is Power is a more traditional party quiz game, and the type you’d expect from a PlayLink-style service.
Up to six players join a quiz show, hosted by a slightly annoying host (as is standard for any quiz show videogame to be fair) and after you select a character and take a selfie with a funny filter, the game kicks off.
Using your phones, each player selects the question topic they’d like, be it sports, music etc., and the topic with the most votes is the one chosen, with tiebreakers being solved by a random selection.
You then use your phone to select your answer, with bonus points being given for faster responses, then the next topic will be up for choosing. The next topic usually follows the last one somewhat, so if you’ve just answered a question on Music, the next one or two questions will likely be music-related too, which is a small thing but it’s good as you’re not wildly jumping across various topics.
There’s a layer of competitiveness here with Power Plays for you to use, which hinder your fellow players in different ways. There are plays like ‘gloop’, which covers your opponent’s answers in green goo that they’ve got to wipe off on their smartphone in order to see them or ‘freeze’, which adds a layer of ice on top of their answers which they must tap multiple times to ‘crack’ the ice and choose their answer.
Ultimately, it’s a fairly straightforward quiz game, perfect for parties, especially considering anyone with a phone can join in, but not the ideal game for a quiet night in. It does showcase the potential of the PlayLink service very well though.
That’s You! Was the first PlayLink game to launch and is a kind of mixture of party games and messing around, and as with the aforementioned PlayLink games, your phone does all the work here.
The aim of the game is basically to have a laugh with (and at) your mates, with questions like ‘who’s most likely to make out a stranger at a fun fair?’ providing an ample opportunity for everyone to choose who they think would be so bold.
Other challenges are things like taking a photo of one player and drawing them as if they were left out in the wild for a month, or voting on what kind of after-dinner entertainment they’d provide from a funny list of choices.
The mc dubbing it all is a bit cheesy, but the visual style of the game is actually really impressive, it’s really polished and easy to get into.
Each game session has a theme which the questions will relate to such as being in school or at an amusement park, so each time you play shouldn’t feel too repetitive. The drawing-based questions are fun and it’s a great game to fire up when you have friends over.
There are purportedly over 1000 questions so in theory you shouldn’t get bored of the game for a long time, and hopefully more questions can be put in through an update before you get through them all.
That’s You! Is definitely a great flagship PlayLink title and highlights how fun these styles of games can be, but unlike Hidden Agenda, it’s not much use without friends.