Sony is making a grab for everyone who isn’t already on the PlayStation train with PlayLink, a series of party games that are played by linking smartphones with the PS4. The Spinoff team had a good blat with two of the games currently available, That’s You! and Knowledge Is Power.
If you plonk yourself in front of a TV and console, chances are you’ve got a phone in your pocket that could get Apollo 13 to the moon and back and send 19 bitmojis per second. Why wouldn’t people making games for consoles try to leverage that wondrous technology at hand by marrying it with modern gaming machines like the PS4? It’s an intriguing idea and it kinda makes you wonder why no one’s thought of it before.
Sony soft launched PlayLink earlier this year, but in the lead up to Chrimbo they’ve ramped up the marketing. Senior vice oresident Michael Denny has been doing the press rounds and budgets are such that The Spinoff was offered a PlayLink Party of our very own, complete with beer and party snacks. We quickly agreed and just as quickly scheduled the PlayLink Party for the day after our own Christmas party, in an attempt to avoid having to work with hangovers.
Set up was surprising easy and pretty flexible: you can login to the same wifi network your PS4 is on or use the PS4 as a hotspot if there’s a network available. The only niggle is the password to log onto the PS4 was kind long and hard to key in, but, security, y’know?
We began with Knowledge Is Power, a quiz show game where questions came up on screen and a selection of answers appeared on our phones. The second game played was That’s You! an “irreverent” party game where you answer questions about other players (both, incidentally, retail for $34.95). Made by Wish Studios, it’s an innovative game that makes use of your smartphone’s camera and touchscreens – i.e you get to doodle over everyone’s faces and so on.
Armed with hangovers and high-carb food, how did we find PlayStation’s PlayLink range? Our reckons follow …
Despite feeling personally victimised by everyone choosing me to be the most likely to book a honeymoon in a warzone, AND playing their joker round because they were so confident in their answers, I had so much fun playing That’s You!. As fun as it is to get relentlessly owned by your colleagues, I also loved that it made me stay away from my usual ritual of Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook (repeat for infinity) in social situations. In fact, I was actively punished whenever I strayed from the That’s You app to check the latest smoothie bowl on my IG feed, and had to sit out rounds aka lose points aka my living nightmare. A great reminder that the only thing more addictive than social media is the sweet taste of victory.
Knowledge Is Power took me right back to playing Buzz with my old flatmates complete with cheesy host. The character avatars were way better/weirder and of course, using your phone as a controller is cool. What with buzzers, GuitarHero gats and SingStar microphones our lounge was always a mess. The questions were fun and fairly easy, right up to the point the person coming last came roaring up for the win with a tough geography question.
While I liked Knowledge, I loved That’s You! The personalisation makes it so easy to humiliate your friends which is of course the best comedy there is. It’s been a while since I played any kind of group game on a console and this was a great reintroduction to how much it can bring a (hideously hungover) group together.
The Playlink games are fun as all hell, especially with some beers and a pack of chips.
Knowledge is Power is best played with people with similar fields of knowledge to you or vastly different ones. I ended up leading the quiz for most of the game, due to my huge knowledge of actors/actresses/death (the game lets you pick different categories, and if your group is all aligned you’re either going to have a fun time or a very samey time).
HOWEVER what makes this different from other quizzes is you get to fuck with other people in between rounds. You can make it harder for them to answer questions, or depending on what debuff (that’s what me, a smart gamer person, calls it) you give your fellow competitors, you can really mess them up. These things can genuinely turn the tide of the game, especially if you’re in a group of fancy quick phone-tappers like the Spinoff Crew™.
The only thing I didn’t like is that Jihee went from being in last place to winning, and I demand a recount from this game which cannot provide me with one.
That’s You!, on the other hand, is a delight top-to-bottom. Play it with friends, play it with people you want to get a subtle burn on, or with friends whom you want to utterly destroy with your other friends. Other than a mildly annoying voiceover dude, it’s a goddamned killer of a game to play with the people you love. It tests not only how well you know them, but how well you can test your boundaries with them. If Knowledge is Power is the beer and pack of chips game, then That’s You! is the bottle of wine and cigarettes game.
There’s something genius about a game that lets you do everything you’d normally be doing, but then gives you points and shiny things for doing it well. Those things, for me at least, are taking dumb selfies, drawing on people’s faces in Snapchat, and mocking my friends. That’s You! is pretty much exactly that. It’s a relaxed game that promotes subtle ownage over any sort of fine motor skills. I also nervous sweat whenever I have to play a game so the fact that you can use your own phone and don’t have to subtly wipe the controller after your turn is a huge bonus.
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