We went in with fairly low expectations, it has to be said. Sony's PlayLink is an unashamed play for the social crowd, and beyond its new and innovative approach to input devices, That's You! doesn't look particularly remarkable in any traditional sense. However, it turns out that we were wrong, and our gentle scepticism with regards to both PlayLink and That's You! has now dissolved into confidence that Sony is really onto something.
First up, the concept: PlayLink is an alternative to the controller, designed to make console gaming more accessible to those who aren't comfortable wielding a DualShock. Instead of the iconic quartet of PlayStation face buttons, the touchpad, shoulder buttons, and all of the other functions that seasoned gamers don't even think twice about, this new initiative transfers control to your smartphone. By downloading a simple app related to the game in question, players interface with the software using the familiar touch screen on their mobile. It's simple, it's accessible, and it works like a charm.
We had no issues installing the app, and for the most part it worked fine on both iOS and Android devices (we had one player drop out for a couple of rounds when playing online). It was easy to find, didn't take long to download, and everyone was up and running with the game in just a matter of minutes. So far, so good.
That's You! is more akin to a board game than a traditional video game (if there is such a thing). It offers a variety of different ways to play, including online multiplayer for one person alone in the living room, local two-player co-op (kinda), larger local games for up to six players, and even an offline mode that can be played solely on mobile. The game revolves around basic quizzes and party games - nothing too taxing, then - and it's so simple that we can't imagine anyone having trouble getting to grips with it.
Let's start with the game's biggest draw, the multiplayer mode for up to six players (which can be played locally or online). Each person, armed with a phone containing the app, has to answer questions posed to the group by the game. Questions like: "Who is the most likely to pull a funny face at a teacher at school?" Those who vote with the majority will be rewarded with points to bulk up their individual score, and if you're supremely confident about the way the group will vote on a particular question you can play a joker and double your points if proved correct.
It's not just a Q&A, though, and there are different activities. Sometimes you might be shown an image and everyone has to use the camera on their phone to strike the same pose, with everyone voting on who did the best job. Another activity might have people drawing pictures or decorating photos (either just the one and voting on it, or drawing a picture and then it being sent between phones so that people can take it turns to add hilarious details). The drawing isn't the best aspect, and if you've got a stylus handy you'll fare better than when using your fingers, but with a little care, those who're artistically minded can create some fun art, and those who aren't can make abominations that'll have the room rolling around in fits of laughter.
There are a bunch of different topics, and over the course of five rounds a random selection will be thrown up, keeping things varied. This probably isn't a title that you'll bust out too often, and if you do play it regularly things will probably start getting stale quite quickly, but for every now and then, when people show up and friends are partying together, That's You! is just the ticket for getting groups of people laughing and playing along.
The two-player game is more cooperative, and you have to work together to guess what the other person thinks. There are two rounds, one focused on each player, and you have to answer questions and strike poses like in the multiplayer game, except here you're working towards a collaborative score. This mode is a fun distraction, but it doesn't have the legs to entertain in the same way as its multiplayer counterpart, and we don't think many people will return to this too often after trying it a couple of times because of its limited appeal. You can also go offline and play a local game, drawing images and then sending them back and forth, but again, this is a nice distraction, not the main course, and we don't foresee people getting addicted.
One really nice touch is the option to add your own questions to the game, across a broad range of topics. So if you know that you've got a certain group of friends coming over you could easily go in and tailor the questions to suit the audience. The audio-visual element is also quite impressive, although the VO can get a little samey. Visually, though, That's You! is a smart looking game, and the UI is smooth and intuitive across both the big and small screens.
All told we came away impressed with That's You! and what it does, despite that fact that it's a limited game in many ways, and only really suitable for social engagements. Those friends that you've got that don't really do consoles, but who like to drink and laugh and to play games around a table will love it, and the easy accessibility offered by the mobile interface means that the barrier to entry is minimal. But more than anything else we're excited about the possibilities that it offers. There could be some amazing experiences on the horizon, and we can't wait to see what enterprising developers come up with. That's You! is a great start for Sony's new initiative, and we have high hopes that PlayLink will serve up plenty of memorable social experiences in the months and years ahead.
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