Sony might skipping E3 2019, but don’t let that fool you into thinking that news about the leading console platform will stop completely.
And no, we’re not just talking about those all-important third-party titles, because it appears we’ve got some unexpected news about one of Sony’s upcoming exclusives.
Better yet, it could suggest that this game is about to be shipped in the not too distant future.
What is this game? Erica, a PS4 exclusive and live-action Playlink title that was first unveiled over two years ago at Paris Games Week in October 2017.
In fact, its been almost a year since we remember hearing anything of note about the game. And that was from our own interview with the games Creator Jack Attridge.
But now, on the verge of E3 it appears as though the game has been rated by the Australian Classification Board.
Ratings normally indicate that a release is just around the corner, so we’d expect the game to most definitely launch by the end of the year (but hopefully much sooner).
For those who don’t know, or perhaps don’t remember, Sony Playlink titles allow players to use their mobile phone as a touchscreen controller for the game.
The games released for Playlink so far haven’t been that spectacular, but they are (mostly) small but perfectly formed interactive games for a wide variety of audiences, ages and group sizes.
There’s also quite a decent mix of family-friendly games and serious adult titles.
The format is good, but perhaps it just needs that one groundbreaking game to really capture peoples imaginations. In the same way Astro Bot and Blood & Truth have helped elevate PlayStation VR to a whole new level.
The game itself (don’t call it an FMV) and as mentioned is from the creative mind of Jack Attridge, once widely seen as Peter Molyneux’s protege at 22cans.
We caught up with Attridge at E3 last year – read our Erica interview here – and he had lots to say about the game, how Sony’s Shuhei Yoshida helped bring his creation to life and much more.
Follow the link above to read the full interview, but for now, we’ve just pulled out one section where we discussed how Erica tackles branching narratives, game overs and replayability.
So is Erica a series of decisions and is there a game over at any point within the context of it? Or does it just keep branching and deepening as you move forward?
That’s kind of ties into your last question and the way in terms of like, what are we doing to reinvent things or how do we kind of consider that stuff.
For instance, the game over was sort of a thing of the 80s. You had a game over because it was designed for you to put more money in the slot.
And for us, in Erica, it’s not about winning or losing. It’s not about a game over. It’s just using the nature and art of interactivity to tell a better story.
Well, actually, there’s maybe one potential place you could lose? But really my thing is like for the story to work the story has to be conclusive, it has to have an end game and like an ultimatum.
There’s always a resolution and everyone’s story is wrapped up and that was something we were very obsessive about.
This is why it takes like two years to write something like this because you can’t just settle for film rules or game rules, it has to like service all these different things.
How does that work with regards to replayability? Especially coming off the back of something like Detroit: Become Human where you have so many of these micro decisions. What’s the scale? And how does that work, especially when you’re going for that bite-sized feel.
So one of the things we were really big on was that the player needs to be interactive every 15/20 seconds because if they start playing and they watch like a big old cutscene and they lean back and have some prosecco or whatever – I don’t know why it’s prosecco, I’m thinking about my mum – But I’ve seen her try to play some of these games before and then she forgets she’s playing a game because it’s knocked her out of the loop.
So we were like, we have to be interacting every 15/20 seconds and we want our choices to be meaningful. We try not to be vague about choices at the same time we don’t want to say bring up like big UI telling you what’s going to happen or the consequences. But on the other side, we don’t want it to be so invisible that you couldn’t even tell its a branching narrative.
So that very much came into how we write it. A lot of this is just the context of writing a good story which marries with good game design empowered by the like technology that we’ve built from the ground up.
We look forward to (hopefully) seeing Erica launch later this year