Sony have a habit of exploring alternative gaming interfaces, with EyeToy, PlayStation Move, and most recently PlayStation VR. For their latest trick, Sony are tapping into the smartphone screens that exist in so many people’s pockets and bags, with a new connected multiplayer system called PlayLink, as announced back at E3. That’s You! is the first game and will be free for PlayStation Plus subscribers. If it’s any indication of the rest of the range, there’s potential here for something awesome, but also some major issues.
As the trailer featuring Sony’s Shu Yoshida shows, That’s You! is a light-hearted party game where everyone uses their phones to answer questions about each other. Over the course of a few rounds, depending on the number of players, you will be answering questions, putting a certain player in a situation and attempting to reach a consensus. Those who match their answers with the player in question will get points.
Questions tend to go in roughly the same order of a couple where you must think about what another player would do in a situation, take a selfie to mimic a pose, draw a picture, or type an answer. The important thing is that you aim to agree which you think is the best. A limited amount of Jokers are available to bid on getting an agreement for bonus points. It’s a somewhat more intimate take on JackBox’s Party Pack though there’s a smaller scope for customising your answers.
For the final round, you each take a selfie on your phone, then draw yourself as a particular person, animal, or monster. You can then improve on a friend’s drawing until these masterpieces are complete before agreeing which one is the best for the final dose of points. There’s a bit more scope for amusement here, depending on artistic skill of the friends you are playing against.
For a game about traveling between scenarios and answering questions, there’s a laid back and appealing feel to the presentation, complete with sixties inspired music and a narrator who gets a massive kick out of everyone agreeing on things. It can be somewhat obnoxious, but then again JackBox’s narrator also had the potential to grate at times and That’s You! isn’t as bad.
While That’s You! is primarily competitive in nature, supporting up to six players, there is a 2 player mode where you must answer questions about each other for a combined score. This culminates in a compatibility meter that evaluates your closeness. Sadly this does feel like a hamstrung version of the main game and is over well before you know it. I was unable to try the online version prior to writing this review, but the option is there for those more isolated players.
Player availability is more of an issue than one might think, as Sony’s answer to linking mobile phones is a double edged sword. Typical games of this genre, such as JackBox Party Pack and more recently Use Your Words, incorporated browser support via a website and lobby codes in order to link players into the same game.
Sony have opted to use a dedicated app instead for That’s You! – not a browser page, a PlayLink app or the PlayStation App’s second screen functionality. This raises a couple of problems with space and compatibility. While most phones these days are either Android or iOS, these are the only formats that are fully supported with the That’s You! app – here for Android and here for iOS. If you are one of those with Windows Phones or any other mobile OS, then you’re simply out of luck.
Then there’s the app itself. At 176.6MB, it’s not the most taxing of downloads if you can hop onto a Wi-Fi network, but it feels like a big ask to download an app and add it to the general clutter on people’s phones, especially if they’re facing storage limits and don’t want to go through the hassle of deleting apps to make room. That would make for a rather inharmonious moment of annoyance before the game has even begun, which kind of defeats the point.
Update: The above complaint is focussed at iOS, which has to include both 32 bit and 64 bit binaries. The Android app is a much more reasonable 80MB.
Should everyone have the correct mobile type and have the space to dedicate to the app, there are advantages. You can create your own questions to ask about certain situations, or images for players to draw. You can even play a variant on the final round of the main game without the need to have a PS4 turned on or nearby; just draw on photos and make little additions for fun.
Other games in the PlayLink series look to do far more interesting things with your mobile phone, but as far as a proof of concept goes, That’s You! certainly makes the case for the system, even if it’s not as convenient as it could be. If you have PlayStation Plus, it’s worth downloading both the game and the app to see for yourself how it all works, and while I personally felt this one doesn’t have the legs to hold interest beyond a couple of games, the technology behind it shows promise.
Versions Tested: PlayStation 4 with iOS devices