Erica never makes you feel comfortable for long. In one scene, a character Erica learns how to play a song on the piano – you are encouraged to memorize the cute little melody and try to perform the correct timing. But just when you start playing along, someone suddenly starts to cough up blood everywhere, it’s messy and dirty, everyone starts screaming, and the atmosphere is killed. In Erica, you have to nurture those sweet breaks before they are quickly swept out of your hands and replaced with a hefty dose of worry, stress, and a side of confusion. This is our Erica Review.
Erica Review: About
- Platform: PlayStation 4
- Developer: Flavourworks
- Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
- Genres: Adventure game
- Release Date: August 19, 2019
Erica Review: Gameplay
An entirely filmed playable thriller in which the titular character has a mission to solve a murder case that has strange family ties, Erica uses some subtle yet effective film-inspired techniques – such as match-on-action and screen cloths that are triggered by the touchpad interactions – to tell the mysterious story. To enhance each scene, choose dialogue options, and create various adventure game-like actions. The game jumps back and forth between Erica’s childhood with her father to the mess of modern life, in which she has to move to a strange hospital that her deceased parents helped create for her safety.
Erica, played by real actor Holly Earl, is a recognizable but malleable protagonist. Earl regularly looks as if she’s baffled or uncomfortable, exactly how you feel as a viewer in most situations. She seems thoughtful and patient, but apart from that, there isn’t too much of a steadfast personality for her. You decide through your in-game choices whether she’s more passive, aggressive, or unhelpful on the case, and because of the high stakes murder circumstances, changing her attitude and approach never feels abrupt or characterless.
Even if you’re rude for most of the game, you can be friendly to someone, and it doesn’t feel weird. Your reactions, and Erica’s, are likely to change frequently during a playthrough whenever new information emerges, goals change and new, incredibly peculiar characters come into the picture. Somehow, every further aspect you meet is more suspicious than the previous one. Everyone is talking to you as if they just poisoned the food you eat.
There is a series in the courtyard where you can choose a girl to hang out with and get to know better, and right after you select a potential friend to spend the afternoon with, the hospital head says, “Remember that some of the girls here … Uh … They can be quite manipulative “, and just walk away. The man is nowhere to be found, and you sit there wondering why he would say that. And before you know it, you are considering every interaction because you don’t know which person he intimated that he was going to manipulate you All the secrets, ulterior motives and Erica’s flawed memory cause very intriguing gameplay “Don’t trust anyone, not even yourself.”
Perpetual disorientation is the central feeling of Erica, and it is what keeps you searching for the truth, no matter how many crooked obstacles get in your way. The plot is constantly changing and chaotic; you’re trying to solve a crime by talking to an abundance of madmen in an unknown, scary place while having suffocating flashbacks from your confused childhood. There are so many clashing forces and intense situations that you find yourself longing to understand, even the tiniest mystery, just to feel grounded.
There was a time when a gas character lit Erica. I finally shook my fist and shouted, “She’s not crazy, you’re just lying!” on my TV – but while that character annoyed me, I kept listening to them in case they accidentally gave a little hint to steer me in the right direction, and they did. Erica is a striking example of a whodunit enhanced by his captivating characters, dark occult science, and memories of past trauma.
From the general murder case to smaller questions such as what kind of hospital you are staying in, several mysteries weave together through Erica at the same time. It is easy to miss the context essential to understand the full picture. You may get an answer to a question that has been burning in your head for the past half an hour, but that answer may be a truth that offers new avenues to choose from or a lie that leads you astray. That mystery management is exciting and turns every experience of the game into its own curious, isolated thriller, shaped by all the answers and stories you care about at the time.
Most of the actions are intuitive, and you feel like you know where to swipe and what to do before the game even tells you. There is a moment when you and a detective walk to an empty reception that has a bell on it, for example. I lit up when I saw it, and I started tapping a forest on the screen – Erica didn’t hesitate to mimic my actions in her world and drift away, so much so that the detective took her hand off because he got irritated. The straightforward movements make navigation hassle-free, and the ability to quickly identify the actions you can make makes a connection with moment-to-moment gameplay. It keeps your focus on the essential things, like figuring out what the hell is going on in the story.
The movie aspect improves some insidious situations. There are always conversations behind closed doors, and because you have so many questions to answer, sometimes you have to be crazy and to eavesdrop on people. If you look outside too long or open the door too quickly, they will see you, stop their conversation, and share a distressed look with you. Since they are images of real people’s facial expressions, it makes you cringe a bit more – which is one of the most stress-relieving phases I can imagine.
Erica Review: Conclusion
Erica has a robust and elaborate story full of twists and turns that each brings their unique piece into the story. The cryptic tone is carried through by the audio, images, and writing; it never lets you relax. Sometimes weird controls scare you, but there’s an abundance of tantalizing discussions to follow, and being able to shape your adventure is a treat. Using a combination of precise cinematography and FMV-specific game mechanics, Erica always manages to hook you into his spooky, mysterious world.
In Erica, you have to nurture those sweet breaks before they are quickly swept out of your hands and replaced with a hefty dose of worry, stress, and a side of confusion.