July 4, 2017
Sony Interactive Entertainment
Removing the DualShock 3 and replacing it with a smart phone / tablet, That’s You! is the first game arriving as part of Sony’s Play Link series of games.
Play Link is a new initiative by Sony Interactive Entertainment that is looking to bring about a set of individually sold party games playable via smart device. The first game, That’s You!, is playable with up to 6 players and is currently available free via Sony’s PlayStation Plus subscription service.
That’s You! is a multimedia party game with action and scoreboards presented on a monitor while your inputs happen via smart device. This method is perfectly suited to party gaming because it allows everyone with a smart phone to join, requires no previous knowledge or experience with controller usage, and creates very little barrier for entry for all types of players.
In this sense, That’s You! is incredibly similar to The Jackbox Party Pack series of games. Gameplay is also immediately familiar to those who have engaged with Jackbox in the past with players passing judgements about fellow participants, drawing funny images, and generally answering the questions the game throws in your direction.
Where the games differ is that Jackbox is a set of party games that comes packaged in one collection, offering different kinds of party game experiences. That’s You! instead only offers one game, and whilst that one game is longer and more comprehensive than any single minigame offered by Jackbox, it isn’t necessarily better than some of Jackbox’s best offerings (Quiplash or Fibbage, for example).
The fact that That’s You! does only offers one game is actually somewhat problematic. The reason for this is because a party game setting is often tailored best to short and varied experiences rather than a single long game. Jackbox understood that different players enjoy different games. Classically the drawing games in a Jackbox Party Pack can either be the greatest things ever to exist for some or the bane of your existence for others (ie; me). Having 1 of 5 minigames means you can tailor which games you play to your audience, but in That’s You! you can’t, and I had to embarrassingly show off my lack of artistic talent.
The contents of That’s You! were most certainly well polished and they did lead to great moments of humour and fun. Whilst a lot of what the game offered can also be found in previously mentioned games, it did do some things differently that totally worked. Mimicking a person on screen by taking a selfie was most certainly clever and fun. I also very much appreciated the final round where an image was passed from one players phone to the next, everybody adding their own detail to the image to create a final product too crazy for any one person to have done. These experiences and others were novel and engaging.
“A system that rewards you for being the most group-minded seems dull. That’s You! didn’t encourage clever or funny answers, it just encouraged homogeneous answers”
That’s You! works as a good ice-breaker game but it works better amongst friends and family, especially when asking you questions pertaining to characteristics of the other players. The score system worked by giving points to those who answered the question the same as the majority of other players. If you were very confident in your answer you could also play one of your tokens (which are limited in number) that doubled the score you got from your answer. Whilst the system did work, I once again found myself drawing comparisons to Jackbox that weren’t in That’s You!’s favour. Depending on the game, Jackbox awards you with points for being correct (Trivia Murder Party), for being the most deceptive (Fibbage), or for being the most clever or most funny (Quiplash). So to go from that system to a system that rewards you for being the most group-minded seemed dull. That’s You! didn’t encourage clever or funny answers, it just encouraged homogeneous answers.
For me, many of the ways That’s You! blunders is because it found a way to do things worse than the games it was trying to replicate. The best part about Jackbox was the ease of accessibility. You jump onto a web-browser on your phone, go the web address, input the code on screen and bam, you’re in and playing. In traditional Sony style, that system was too easy and not controllable enough. So instead they have made a dedicated app for each PlayLink game that you have to download, connect to the host Wifi, and then install and run. Here is why this system is worse.
Firstly, it creates a barrier for entry in the downloading of an app – a small thing, I know, but that small thing may well be enough to turn off a prospective player. The app is also only available via Android and iPhone, so Windows phone owners can not play. Once again, probably only of minimal impact due to the small user-base of the Windows phone, but it is yet another inferiority. The real kicker, for me at least, is that every player has to be connected to the same Wifi network to join a game. Not only is this yet another barrier for entry, but simply impractical under certain situations. You want to use 3G or 4G networks? Tough luck. You have a guest Wifi or multiple networks within your current residency? Better change that. Your Wifi isn’t strong enough to support multiple connections? It’s not ideal.
The game can also be played online, not just locally. For online play you pair up via PSN and invite people to a game. This system works fine although the game’s design does seem very much tailored to a local experience.
I also didn’t appreciate the 6 player limit of That’s You!. The Jackbox games were directly playable with up to 8 people (depending on the game), but up to 100 people could join under some capacity. The additional players in Jackbox made up the audience who joined in the game in some way. Maybe the audience made up a 9th contestant, or got to vote for winners. That’s You! doesn’t offer this and I can see it hurting them because it means a larger gathering or party atmosphere will most likely be excluding people. It also means a streamer can’t play with their viewers joining in as the game’s audience.
- Some engaging and novel ideas
- Well polished and presented
- A good addition to a genre of party games that desperately needs more entries
- 6 player limit
- Less accessible than similar games
- A system that rewards group-think rather than humour or originality
As a game, That’s You! isn’t bad, and if you grab it free with PlayStation Plus it’s definitely worth a try. The issue is that I can see this game coming and going from the collective consciousness and forgotten in a way that Jackbox won’t be. I’m hoping other games within the Play Link series will be more unique and more worthwhile as an individual purchase because That’s You! was unfortunately fairly average.