A few months back I found myself browsing through all of what the PlayStation Store has to offer when it comes to games and playable deals, and before I found out about the Erica interactive movie game I was narrowing my search criteria to games that are of a full-motion video, narrated story type.
Back in the day, also mentioned in my other article, games like Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger (1994) and Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom (1996) from Origin Systems and Electronic Arts, were titles that pulled me into an enjoyable sci-fi story and stellar performances mainly because of the FMV sequences throughout the gameplay.
Blue Screen Productions
I recall owning these titles originally for PC and Windows OS or more than likely MSDOS, I then brought them for PlayStation (PS1) later down the line. All of which are available through eBay.
The X-Files Game (1998) from Hyperbole Studios was another firm favourite of mine and I also enjoyed testing my nerve on Night Trap (1992) from Digital Pictures which I played on PC and a Sega Mega-CD console respectively around the time.
On 15 August 2017 Night Trap was re-released as a twenty-fifth-anniversary edition for the PC, Vita, PlayStation 4 (PS4) and Xbox One consoles, developed and published by Hogle’s Screaming Villains and a limited edition physical copy was released by Limited Run Games. It was also released for the Nintendo Switch on 24 August 2018.
Usually, games like the above I tend to enjoy the unfolding movie sequences as with the Erica interactive movie this article is centred on, more than the actual game, as the game feels thin on controls and options, dialogue choices and things to do, which is normally the case with these sorts of titles. At least with the Wing Commander titles above, Chris Roberts, Frank Savage and the team created the game so that you would be in control of different spacecraft on missions and battling in space against the Kilrathi.
This playable action was interweaved with movie sequences and transitions, like for example Colonel Christopher Blair (Mark Hamill) walking through an interior sliding door of the TCS Victory. It’s no wonder that the game was released on so many CD-ROM discs due to the amount of interactive content data.
The Smaller the Pixel, the Better the Quality
The video game industry has started to accommodate more and more different and unique playing experiences and interactive entertainment. This is mainly due to the boom in independent game development over the last two generations of consoles and games.
This has resulted in a lot of retro and select genres of gaming styles coming back to haunt us in a good way.
These days, full-motion video, interactive movie-based games are still being created and do exist and just have that better production value and video quality than their earlier competition.
Don’t be confused by hit titles like Hidden Agenda (2017) from Supermassive games, for example, which is not movie footage and more realistic graphics created with motion capture studios. I’ve listed a few of the other titles created by this developer in my other article. These FMV games were filmed sequences shot with actors on set and location as with movies we watch on screen.
While browsing the PlayStation Store I came across titles that perked my interest and shortlisted a few I wanted to see and try out below. Besides the following titles listed, I also stumbled on Her Story (2015) and Telling Lies (2020) another couple of intriguing titles by Sam Barlow, a previous game director at Climax Studios who left in 2014 to become an indie game developer.
The Complex (2020) – Wales Interactive
Information taken from Wales Interactive. After a major bio-weapon attack on London, two scientists find themselves in a locked-down laboratory with time, and air, running out.
With choose-your-own-path gameplay, your actions and your relationship with other characters will lead you to one of eight suspenseful endings.
Having treated the victims of a chemical attack in the totalitarian state of Kindar, Dr Amy Tenant is a leader in the advancement of Nanocell Technology. Now, in London, news breaks of a blood-vomiting civilian whose identity is far from coincidental. Reunited with an old friend, Amy is trapped in an impenetrable HQ of laboratories—a womb of scientific advancement with a perilous secret.
Erica (2019) – Flavourworks
Information taken from Flavourworks. Erica allows you to immerse yourself in live-action video and make tactile choices through physical touch, offering a seamlessly flowing experience.
Within the branching narrative, every choice has a profound effect on what the player will see next, with frequent decisions allowing continuous interaction.
With a run-time of a feature length film, Erica offers a movie-like experience where players get to shape their unique path through the story, and decide what they truly believe.
Late Shift (2017) – Wales Interactive
Information taken from Wales Interactive. Late Shift is a high stakes FMV crime thriller. After being forced into the robbery of a lucrative auction house, mathematics student Matt is left proving his innocence in the brutal London heist.
Your choices will have consequences from the very start, right through to the very end. One small decision could change the entire outcome in a choose-your-own-path gameplay that can lead to one of seven conclusions.
Written by the author of Sherlock Holmes (2009 film), experience a gripping live-action crime thriller with a total of over 180 decision points. Do you steal the car or do you run away? Do you follow orders or sabotage the plan? You’ll have just seconds to decide as the film continues to roll with no pauses and no looping footage.
The Bunker (2016) – Wales Interactive
Information taken from Wales Interactive. You are the last remaining survivor of a nuclear bunker, 30 years after the blast obliterated everything above ground. Over the years everyone else has died, and their corpses are locked away in the cold storage room.
Your daily routine is the only thing keeping you sane – just – but when an alarm is triggered, your mind begins to self-destruct. You must venture deeper and deeper into the bunker discovering long forgotten zones and uncovering dark and repressed memories that finally reveal the terrible secret of the bunker.
Players will be able to explore and find clues to their escape from the Bunker – they will have to move fast, making quick decisions which could cost them their life. They will be able to fully roam around the live action world, looking around, opening doors, collecting items, unlocking secret areas. And everything you see is real.
Erica – FREEdom of Choice
I was recently informed that one of the titles on my watch list has been made a FREE PlayStation Plus exclusive if you have PlayStation Plus membership, which you can read about, discover and purchase cheaper through my other article. With not long to go now for my membership and subscription expiration, I jumped on this FREE title which is currently at £8.99 as of 10 July 2020 and is now freely available from 7 July 2020 to 4 August 2020. This is plenty of time to get this title if you’re interested in a good plot and some FMV action.
Erica was developed by Flavourworks and released in 2019 by Sony Interactive Entertainment. The main female protagonist in this mystery is played by Holly Earl and her actions and consciousness can be controlled by the touchpad on a PlayStation 4 (PS4) controller or via PlayStation Play Link on a smartphone.
Erica – Choose Your Own Adventure
In brief, the story has something to do with a young child living through the trauma and nightmares of seeing her Father’s murder. Events around his demise then start to materialize and happen again around Erica who has to piece the mystery together via grisly clues and fact-finding. In your first play of this game everything is new, the locations, dialogue choices and characters met, therefore any decisions made will come from your moral compass and shape the outcome of the plot and ending.
This first play-through will be one of the many perspectives of how things turned out and so you may want to play again making different, but not exactly better choices at different decision junctions. I chose to play again just so I can meet the characters properly and hear their side to the tale in detail. The more footage I unearthed the more clearer the story and plot became.
One of Many Endings
I did find the story a little confusing on my first play; it is an unfolding mystery with lots of pieces and twists to think about. The game introduces you to all manner of characters who you can’t be sure if they are friend or foe, and you find yourself asking – can they be trusted or not? I did find that the more I played it, the more I started to understand the plot and got it.
The production is really good and the video quality has come on in leaps and bounds since the days of the above titles, no more small decorated frames and boxes around the footage, this is full-screen resolution and so as expected is pretty much Blu-ray quality. This is more apparent in colourful, clear garden scenes within the game and the detail on the faces of the actors.
This branching storyline game is a short story and has a full game play-through of about 90 to 120 minutes, depending on the player. I’ve personally given the Erica interactive movie game around three play-throughs myself since getting it if that’s anything to go by and have very much enjoyed the dark, intriguing and mature plot presented.
Thank you for reading this article, I hope you found it of some help or interest. Please feel free to drop a comment about these this or the other highlighted titles, the written content or even your own experiences with this genre of game.