Sony’s PlayLink series begins in the most simple, accessible way possible with That’s You! But the future of it could prove to be an important factor in offering party-esque multiplayer experiences at a more reasonable cost.
It’s no secret that there’s a largely untapped market of people that haven’t been fully embraced by the console market. They don’t really get into games outside of the simple ones they play on a mobile device, and because the console space is inevitably as easy to get into an undersized pvc catsuit on a hot day (don’t ask), there’s a bit of a barrier. So in the past, karaoke games, dancing games, and quiz games were used as a halfway house to getting non-gamers into the console space, but inevitably, you’d need accessories and extra controllers, making it rather expensive.
Enter PlayLink, a full on melding of console and mobile, core and casual. The mission statement for PlayLink is simple. Everyone has a mobile with them these days so let them use that to get into games in a more comfortable fashion. Of course this is not the first time mobile integration has been a factor in games, but it is the first time it will be embraced to the fullest.
That’s You! works as a great entry level introduction to that concept (and putting it free on PlayStation Plus also helps it expand its initial reach). A combination of oddball party game and social media app that uses the most familiar aspects of both to hit peak accessibility and interaction. Each player must have a phone or tablet (up to six) with the game’s app installed to play (the PS4 controller is wisely relegated to a bit-part role) and you then take part by answering questions, taking pictures, and doodling on them as requested. Think Pictionary meets Snapchat by way of a dash of truth or dare.
For both picture and question rounds you have an assortment of categories such as Mystery, Love, and Pastimes, each with six sub-categories. In the drawing/picture round, you take a picture of yourself or another player (or use an older picture of practically anyone or anything), and depending on the category, players are tasked with adding to it using the app’s drawing tools. The camera has several filters that warp and distort your image to expand the realms of your creativity should you feel the need. You’ll be asked to make people look like a hotel maid, a bouncer, a judge, a jazz musician, and a lot more, creating some interesting quickfire attempts at ‘art’ as you scribble over your pictures. Herein lies much of the joy of That’s You, because what currency is more precious than that of mocking friends by defacing pictures of them?
The question rounds see you and your friends debate which of you would be best/worst suited to the situation the question asks, covering topics that could open an eye or two about what friends truly think of each other. You know, stuff such as ‘Who would be most likely to defend Crash Bandicoot?’ or ‘who would be the first to say ‘When’s International Men’s Day? on International Women’s Day’. If you value your friendships, you can filter more personal questions out, but I say you don’t truly know or trust a friend as long as you don’t know where they stand in 90’s platform mascot worship.
In a neat, and necessary additional move, you can load up custom questions you’ve created via the app to make a game feel more personal, and also extend the life of That’s You! in the process. Now you too can finally find out who among you is most likely to frame you for murder or admit to watching The Big Bang Theory for fun.
Another cool function of the app is to allow you to play a drawing game sans PS4 by invoking the classic ‘pass the pad’ (mobile or tablet in this case) style of multiplayer. It’s a bit light on rules or variety, but a fun distraction nonetheless.
In fact That’s You! is light on rules in general, which is welcoming in terms of flexibility, but probably going to hurt it long term once the novelty wears off. The solution to that would be to simply update the app and game with new things over time, a very simple, sensible idea that almost seems to sensible to end up being done. If you get done destroying your personal relationships with That’s You! You can also head online to endure the wrath of strangers and more distant chums as well. Hopefully the potentially large install base gives you plenty of opportunities, but in all honesty, nothing really beats playing That’s You! with family and friends, so online isn’t essential here, but a welcome addition all the same.
That’s You! won’t go down in history as the greatest party game ever as it stands (it’s just a touch light on that mode variety), but it is a highly enjoyable one. More to the point, it could well prove to be an important first step in bringing in more of a largely untapped audience to PlayStation via PlayLink. If That’s You! does well, and its goofball simplicity gives it a hell of a chance, then PlayLink could be quite the surprise hit.