“Define Erica’s mysterious and gripping story through your choices, in the branching narrative of this innovative live action cinematic experience.“
Sometimes, I find myself staring at the ever expanding library of games at our disposal, looking for a title to crack open late at night. More often than not, and much like many other gamers I tend to take too long to decide and opt for one of the regular go-to games.
Late night gaming kills the problem solving part of your brain, ask science. Because of this, starting a new game from scratch when it’s dark and quiet, and everyone is asleep, takes up more available brain power than you have in the tank.
Erica solves that problem by not only being a live action, interactive thriller, but also by having a companion app for your phone or tablet that can be used as a remote to select your choices. This allows you to kick back, and treat this game as more of a feature length film with many paths and multiple endings.
I went as far as to lay down with a blanket, phone in one hand and popcorn in the other as I made choices in line with how I would act if put in the position of Erica. Granted, I am not a young woman trying to solve the mystery of my Father’s murder and dismembered body parts sent to me in the mail, but I could at least act as authentic as possible.
The story unfolds in a combination of first and third person camera angles which creates immersive situations where we are taken up close and personal with an object or person. These moments sometimes linger, giving you the chance to fully investigate and search for clues, or, speed by making you select an option almost on impulse.
Mainly taking place in Delphi House, a facility for those with broken minds and dark secrets, you will need to guide Erica as she confronts violent memories, unsavory characters, and growing holes in her very own psyche. There are occasional scenes that take you out of Delphi, but just how often will depend on the choices you make.
Sgt. Duncan Blake is on the case, investigating all the clues like a good little detective, while Erica chases mysterious symbols, a strange shadowy figure, and a trail of pink petals in a more instinct-driven manner.
The whole game is brilliantly done, by far one of the best interactive stories w have come across, and with surprisingly high caliber acting by video game standards.
The music accompanying this cook-your-own thriller is sensational and builds tension in just the right way, even when your actions seem to dictate how long a scene will drag on. There are no awkward stoppages in the music if you nake choices quickly, instead the live action scene will sync up seamlessly.
Because we are “playing” this game as a movie of sorts, we don’t have the issue of glitching camera angles, or an array of menus and other UI. It really is a great game to play if you are in need of something different, or just want a nice juicy story to unravel.
But, with all this great stuff wrapped up in a seemingly neat package, there are some flaws that could turn players off, especially if their exposure to narrative driven games is low. Let’s face it, today’s gaming landscape is paved with battle royale, loot boxes, and a lot less story telling than say a decade ago.
So what’s wrong with Erica?
The story can become questionable if your path gets messy. Without leading into spoilers it’s hard to explain, but as a general example; our first play-through seemed to drag out and concluded very well, while the next run seemed to stop abruptly and very rushed. So, not all paths make as much sense or feel as full filling.
There are no checkpoints or saves that can be loaded, you are on a lineal path with many forks, but there is no going back. This makes sense, except that there are a few points where the available options time out too quickly, forcing a decision, clearly trying to create an intentional challenge, perhaps for a trophy.
If you miss it, you have to wait until your next attempt, meaning a start from scratch. But here’s the problem, even if you anticipate the scene with this option, it can be a struggle to highlight the small target area in time. Yes, it happened to us, and we had to play a third time just for that tiny moment to come around again.
There is also the app. An Erica companion app. Why?
All the app does is provide an option to slide your thumb around to make your choices, the exact same way the touch pad on your PS4 controller does. It really doesn’t add any convenience outside of a smaller device to hold potentially. But it was marketed for use on tablets as well, which baffles me. The thought of someone holding a giant touch screen which doesn’t display the options, I should add, and tracking their finger around the wide open screen is hilarious.
It is definitely nicer than pushing two sticks around, but just seems unnecessary. I can’t harp on about it to much though, it is completely optional to players.
Lastly, the trophy system is strange, in that you receive all of them at the end of the game, rather than at each milestone/achievement. Again, not something that takes away from the overall experience, just annoying when they can all be seen spamming the screen.
So there you have it.
Erica surprises players with a fantastic story, or a dozen of them, it depends on just how many times you can play through the same obligatory scenes on the way to the path-directing choices.
It is a visual and audio masterpiece, and has been pieced together in a way that has both the visual novel lover and murder mystery aficionado in mind.
Earning 8.2/10 on our legendary and completely mathematically accurate Loot Reviews We-Likey-Meter, or something like that. We need to give our scale an official name, help us out in the comments por favor.