Get social with PlayLink for PS4
This fall Sony has introduced a brand new way to enjoy games with your family and friends—PlayLink for PS4. PlayLink introduces an innovative way to interact with your PS4 software using a smartphone or tablet. The four PlayLink launch titles—Hidden Agenda, Knowledge is Power, That’s You!, and SingStar Celebration—are built for social gaming. The games are in different genres too, spanning crime drama, trivia, karaoke, and more.
Curious to know how PlayLink works? Here’s a video created by Sony that explains:
That’s right, with PlayLink your smart device becomes your PS4 game controller. Simply buy a PlayLink game, download the free companion app from the Google Play or Apple App Store, and you’re set to go. To pair your smart device to your PS4, connect it to the same Wi-Fi network as your PS4. Alternatively, create a Wi-Fi hotspot using your PS4 by pressing the Options button and turn the “Wi-Fi hotspot” on.
I’ve already hosted a few PlayLink nights with friends and trust me, the set-up is as simple as it sounds. In just a matter of minutes everyone had the apps downloaded and were ready to go. So what games can you get for PlayLink? Here’s a look at four titles I’ve been playing:
Ever tried Until Dawn, Heavy Rain, or Beyond: Two Souls? Hidden Agenda offers a similar choose-your-own-adventure experience with AAA production values. The story places you in the role of homicide detective Rebecca Marney who’s searching for a serial killer nicknamed The Trapper. This sick and barbaric individual rigs victims with deadly traps, eerily reminding me of the Saw franchise. Although in a morbid twist, some of the traps are also meant to injure first responders to the scene. One thing is certain: Hidden Agenda earns its M-rating.
For fans of crime drama movies there’s plenty to love here. The game takes roughly two hours to play through, an ideal length for a games night with friends. Up to five people can participate and help shape the outcome of this interactive storytelling adventure. Essentially how it works is you’ll watch pre-rendered cutscenes and periodically make key decisions. Choices are often tough moral dilemmas, such as firing your gun on a suspect or attempt to verbally diffuse situations. Your group’s decisions can have huge impacts on the story—including who lives and dies.
Go with the group, or go alone?
What’s really fascinating about Hidden Agenda is that majority rules when it comes to player choices. This makes it fun to talk and come to consensus, or your more devious friends may secretly plot together. I learned a lot about how my friends react to specific situations, and that’s all part of the fun.
It’s surprising, too, how many different outcomes the game can have. I’ve played through four times now and each time had radically different situations based on different in-game choices. This means you and your friends can replay the game multiple times with very divergent paths. As the very first PlayLink game I tried, this definitely started things off on a high note.
Knowledge is Power
Next up, my friends and I played the trivia game Knowledge is Power. It’s a fun, quirky game show where you and your besties answer a variety of questions to get the most points. You begin by choosing a character to represent you from a selection of oddities like Hotdog Man, Cowgirl, or Glam Wizard. Then, you’ll take a selfie (using your smartphone camera) and it’ll get placed on your funny-looking character. This of course makes them look even sillier.
From there you’ll use your smartphone to choose categories and select responses to the trivia questions posed to you. What’s cool is topics seem to connect to one another as you play. For example, we started off by choosing the topic “TV show”. For our next topic, it gave us options like famous actors, TV dramas, and well-known movie lines. Being able to direct trivia questions towards specific topics lets your group hone in on areas you’re knowledgeable about.
Another neat aspect of this trivia game is the ability to hinder your opponents. Before questions are asked everyone can select a “Power Play,” essentially a nasty attack power-up. Freeze will encase your opponent’s answer in ice, while Nibblers will “eat” letters from answers making them harder to read. Those are just two of a variety of cruel hindrances you can unleash on your friends.
For the final phase, everyone needs to climb a pyramid with the first to reach the top winning. Your scores from previous rounds determine your starting position on the pyramid, which is why it’s important to score big! This also means those who scored badly still have a fighting chance—provided they answer questions correct and fast to climb the pyramid. After several matches of Knowledge is Power we were hooked. The questions were interesting, the presentation is nice, and it’s quite the funny game.
The third PlayLink game we played is That’s You!, a party quiz game for two to six players. The idea behind this game is simple: how well do you know the other players? You’ll answer a number of irreverent questions like “who’d blow out someone else’s birthday candles?” From there everyone votes and you’ll earn points by having the same answers. Odd? Yes. A lot of fun? Definitely!
That’s You! is at its best when your challenges start getting really strange. You might be shown a portrait and be asked to make the same face using your smartphone camera. Then you’ll be shown all the awkward pictures on-screen and everyone has to vote for their favourite. As another example, for one round we had to draw a pretend movie poster that sums up our first date. Some of my friends drew stick figure romantic scenes, while others drew has disastrous their first date was. Moments like these were laugh out loud funny, and that sums up That’s You! in a nutshell.
Last but not least, it was time to partake in some karaoke with SingStar Celebration. If you’ve played any of the PS3 SingStar games it’s essentially the same experience with one big difference: your smartphone if your mic. Like the other PlayLink games, to get started all you need to do is download the SingStar Celebration app.
What’s awesome is that SingStar Celebration recognizes any SingStar DLC songs you may have purchased before. I had purchased about a dozen songs years ago (and had totally forgotten) and all were immediately available to download. Neat! But don’t worry if this is your first SingStar game—it comes with a selection of over 30 pop classics. These range from ABBA’s Dancing Queen, to Britney Spears’ Oops!… I Did It Again, to Iggy Azalea’s Fancy. It’s a nice selection sure to include favourites no matter which artists you enjoy most.
Instead of using a USB microphone like in previous games, SingStar Celebration uses your smartphone’s mic. It picked up our voices very well and reflected our pitch accurately on-screen. Having spent hundreds of hours using USB mics in the older games, I thought the smartphone was just as accurate.
While you can have hours of fun with the included songs, there’s a shop to purchase more if you’d like. What’s great too is any bought song will also download the music video, which can definitely bring back fond memories. You can even record your own music videos and upload them to the community if you want. Then you can browse the community videos to see what videos other singers have created. The entire package is a lot of fun and if you love karaoke, you won’t want to miss SingStar Celebration!