Erica: Beautiful Thriller Elements
Video games are not always a matter of gunfire, body cuts, sword attacks, and efforts to save the world from the power of megalomania that never seems to fail, get the powerful powers of the mandraguna to execute their evil plans. Together with the advancing performance and the flood of creative ideas in the gaming industry, several efforts to make it appear as a platform to present a cinematic story series are also being encouraged. Not surprisingly, a number of games that focus on interactive stories emerge and even spearhead some well-known developers. We’re talking about Quantic Dream, Supermassive Games, to Telltale Games.
Games with interactive stories as focus are not without obstacles. That to be able to mix a game that can really arouse your emotions and moral compass, the acting shown by “digital actors” must first be trusted. Which of course, demands the implementation of technology, especially on the visual side. But what happens if the barrier is replaced with innovation on paper, sounds rational. We’re talking about an effort to mix an interactive story game, but what is really played by real actors is like a big screen movie. This is what Flavourworks via Erica is trying to do, which is finally available for Playstation 4.
Calling it a film / game thriller seems appropriate to explain what Flavourworks and Sony are trying to offer with Erica. You might know him since the first trailer in 2017, which ended with the absence of information for quite a long time. Erica finally reappeared at Gamescom 2019 yesterday, with new stars and stories, and the release that was happening right then and there.
Erica is a woman who has a unique past. Since childhood, his father always talked about the matter of magical and strength that is not shared by everyone. That if he combined himself with certain substances that he had to breathe, Erica was believed to be able to see and anticipate what would happen in the future. This, of course, is not a “new thing” for Erica’s family, considering that her beloved mother can do the same thing. But unfortunately, Erica’s own mother died since she was young.
Although Erica didn’t use much of this “power” that had never been proven clear, she was always haunted by nightmares. In this nightmare, he was “stuck” on the night when his father died. A suspect whom he could not remember clearly killed off his father and carved a mysterious symbol on his chest. Erica had never known a killer who shared the proportions of a woman’s body. One thing is certain, following his increasingly mature age, this nightmare not only survives, but actually finds its way back. Erica got a package of hand pieces which also contained symbols that had been etched on her father’s chest.
Not knowing who was actually responsible, this case also caused Erica to deal with the authorities. Considering the investigation process ensured that the hand belonged to one of the Delphi employees – the hospital where his mother had worked, Erica was considered safer to be there. Especially considering that he will be surrounded by colleagues who are indeed, close to the figure of the father and mother. But as can be predicted, instead of being safe, Erica’s move to this hospital was haunted by more horror and mystery.
Imagining an interactive story game that makes a live action film as a base would be a challenge that we never predicted before. There really is an attempt to offer interactive films like this, as Netflix did with Bandersnatch. But it ends up being a kind of “story book” that merely offers branches of the story built on a response-consequence system. But the interactive side of films such as Bandersnatch is limited. While on the other hand, Erica has an ambition to offer a level of interactivity a la Teltale or Quantic Dream-style interactive story games. An ambition that was executed fantastically.
We ourselves do not understand how the technical mechanism is carried out, but the interactivity side of objects and the like seems to be built on visual based on stop-motion. You still control real-world objects that appear like photos, but are able to move following your instructions. This stop-motion impression strengthens after you see that even objects that are illuminated by light will have shadow motion according to the action you take, frame by frame. This combination of systems makes the fusion between the gameplay and the video content you watch more subtle, creating a cool illusion that the live-action video that you are tasting, feels like a video game with actors and the digital world on it.
One other cool thing is the angle of the camera shooting, most of which use angles that are “very video game” sensation. Deep in the corner, capturing all the object elements that you can trigger, with the character’s impressive movement. That unlike Hollywood films that zoom in more to prioritize the emotions or create the dramatic sensation they should, Erica plays a lot of cameras far away, especially when moving around and observing the surrounding environment. Conditions like this make the illusion of video games so obvious.
So what is offered by Erica is a new interactive film format that melts sweetly together with interactivity in the style of video games that are truly fantastic. We will not be surprised that in the future, there are many similar projects that want to borrow this concept. Because if it is successfully thought out and anticipated in the initial development process, it is not impossible that it will even be able to offer strength and quality beyond digital interactive story games though.
This time, Touch Pad
When was the last time you used your DualShock 4 touch-pad to the full? Of all the features offered by Playstation 4 for its flagship controller, the touch-pad seems to be called an underrated feature that is not widely used, even for exclusive PS4 games. The only exclusive game that drives this function is Infamous: Second Son with a wall spray action that represents a well-simulated handheld paint can and DREAMS which in fact requires it to create the creative process of existing gamers. At Erica, touch pad is everything.
Not only that, the touchpad will also be used to perform sliding actions in all directions to simulate Erica’s hand action, like an interactive story game. By using it, you will be asked to turn the key, open the crate, until just turning the pages of the book. Some actions require two finger actions at once, such as when you open a curtain or try to cut a plant stem with garden scissors, for example. There is no super fast QTE that you should be aware of, because Erica gives you enough time to choose your response. But of course, choosing silence or abstaining is also an option that you can take at some point in the story. Although, not all of which you can pass by just staying quiet.
Erica also provides options for subtitles and clearer text options in the settings section, as well as several language options. Take it easy, those of you who like to hunt trophies will also be “spoiled” with requirements that are not difficult and only need a few playthroughs to be perfected.
So as predicted, Erica herself was not perfect. For an interactive story game, especially for those of you who have been spoiled with Detroit: Become Human, for example, it does contain a number of problems, which may even arise because of the live-action format that it is stretcher on. Something that we will talk about in this session.
First, it lacks the feature to explore the choices you have made in previous playthroughs to not only ensure that you do not repeat the same choices in the previous playthrough, but also to get a more unified story experience. Once you finish this game, you are only given the main menu to repeat all of them from the beginning. There is no chance to check the choices you make, there is no feature to give you an overview of which story lines you can execute, and no features to re-dive into specific scenes. For an interactive “game” story, this is certainly disappointing.
Second? There are several stories that must be admitted, it feels incoherent. Either because of negligence to ensure that all branches of the story do make sense or because the script may have changed since the E3 2017 trailer ago but ended with some parts that are maintained even though it feels irrational. As an example? One of the characters had scolded Erica for example, because he lost an important medallion that could be used as a key. This sentence glides full of emotion and feels like an important moment. But the bad news? From the beginning of the game to the point of the story, Erica’s medallion was never mentioned at all. We also had the chance to choose a negative option – where we chose to reject all cooperative relationships with certain characters, even showing clear emotions that we hate him. But the result? Near the end of the game, Erica continued to collaborate with him.
We still recommend Erica for those of you who enjoy interactive story games or television movies with thick mystery thriller elements. The achievements he showed through the melting of interactive elements that were so sweet and smooth became a source of attraction. Out of it all? Affordable prices also deserve to be a highlight.
But of course, as we discussed above, there are some drawbacks that cannot be ignored. In terms of its own “video game”, Erica simply cannot be compared to what Quantic Dreams has to offer in Detroit: Become Human, for example. There is no option to see which storyline has been passed and may be passed later, without the option to re-specific specific scenes that might have important information, so there is no fast forward button to skip the scenes that you had gotten before. But it must be admitted, the most fatal mistake still lies on the side of the incoherent story that seems to appear without a clear background or continue to move forward regardless of the choice of options that you should stay away from these conditions.
Despite these shortcomings, we still recommend Erica for those of you who enjoy interactive story games or television movies with thick mystery thriller elements. The achievements he showed through the melting of interactive elements that were so sweet and smooth became a source of attraction. Out of it all? Affordable prices also deserve to be a highlight.