Become Erica, a young lady plagued with nightmares of her father’s murder. With the traumatic events of her childhood dragged back into the light via grisly new clues, it’s up to you to unearth the shocking truth.
Reviewed on: PS4 (Pro Unit)
Also available for: NA
Cast: Holly Earl, Terence Maynard, Duncan Casey, Ian Pirie, Sasha Frost, Chelsea Edge, Joerg Stadler, Brian F. Mulvey
Creative Director: Jack Attridge
Technical Director: Pavle Mihajlovic
Live Action Director: Jamie Stone
Writer: Connor Potts
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Full-motion video games (FMV) were all the fashion in the early '90s. Now and then one would pop up again like Her Story, or The Bunker. More recently you've had Bandersnatch, the Black Mirror interactive episode bring the genre to the masses without them even realising.
Erica, which was just released as a shadow-drop at Gamescom 2019 after being originally revealed back in 2017 is unfortunately rather boring and leaves you with a bunch larger appreciation for the likes of the aforementioned titles and other recent FMV related releases.
At its core, Erica is a chore to play, making your attention to its story a task to keep. The game begins with you flicking open a lighter. You will flip open this same lighter a tedious amount of times by the end of the game, along with an abundance of meandering tasks like opening doors, chests and draws. I audibly groaned about halfway through the game in a section of flicking lighters, opening doors and sliding draws open.
There are two ways to play Erica though, and although neither is going to fix the boring interactions you have to make throughout the game, there is a definite winner and it's the mobile app. You can download an app for Erica on your smartphone, as Erica is a PlayLink title in all but name now. Using the screen of your phone you can then interact with objects, and use it to swipe around a cursor on the screen at times. It plays the same way with the DualShock 4, but that small touch-bar simply isn't as good as the screen of your phone and leads to more issues performing the right actions -- and I'm having enough issues with them as is, let alone struggling to perform them.
Holly Earl from the TV series Humans plays Erica Mason, who is haunted by the murder of her father at a young age. A murder she was witness too. You, unfortunately, don't get much time to learn about what her life has been like between that sudden devasting event and where the game's story takes place, which is many years later with Erica as an adult. Erica is quickly picked up in a whirlwind of events when a human body part is delivered in a package to her doorstep and she's taken by a police officer to a hospital that her father helped found for her safety. It's here you'll meet and interact with the patients, and dive into a conspiracy plot that will take you into the territory of the occult. It's nothing groundbreaking, but it does at times go into interesting directions.
All of the characters in Erica are forgettable and although it's a testament to Holly Earl that she makes Erica Mason a somewhat interesting protagonist, but she seems to have been directed to just use "shocked and worried face" for the entirety of the game.
It only takes two hours to finish Erica and there is plenty of replay value. As much as the moment-to-moment interactions nearly put me to sleep with repetitive house-chores, the character decisions do hold a lot of weight and replaying a second, third, fourth time -- if you so dare -- will present all-new endings, character interactions and things to find. Unfortunately, I wasn't willing to do more than my playthrough and a quarter since none of the characters was interesting enough to warrant spending more time with them. Having a two-hour playtime is great to keep people playing, but Erica needs more time to invest into not only Erica as the lead character but also all of the so much more less-interesting characters that make up the hospital.
As an FMV it's certainly a unique looking one. Very wide-shots of, at times, beautiful scenery from the hospital yards itself to the twisting corridors inside. Particularly the last third offers a lot of very interesting places to visit and imaginative imagery.
If you've never played an FMV before, Erica will probably be a lot more interesting and maybe it's a good entry-level to these types of games. But as far as I'm concerned Erica Mason can stay in the hospital and stop bothering me to help light her damn zippo.