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You’d be forgiven for wondering just what the heck Sony’s PlayLink is. Rumoured to have been pulled from the publisher’s E3 2017 press conference at the last-minute due to Wi-Fi issues (a problem that the poor souls trying to liveblog the event can attest to), PlayLink was instead pushed out via a press release, whereupon it was completely subsumed by the maelstrom of E3. That’s a shame, because Sony’s latest take on the so-called “second screen” experience—where games are played using phones and tablets alongside a TV and a PlayStation 4—is lots of fun, so long as you have some like-minded buddies to play with.
Using a phone or a tablet to enhance a film, video game, or TV show played out on a big screen certainly isn’t a new idea, though it hasn’t exactly taken the world by storm either. The feature all but disappeared from the PlayStation Vita, while the most high-profile use on the Xbox (where it’s called Smartglass) died a death alongside Lionhead’s Fable Legends.
PlayLink differs in that it isn’t an add-on to an existing game, but is a collection of smaller party games explicitly designed for group play—kind of like the Jackbox series of trivia games, but much more involved. Up to five players—each with their own Android or iOS device and a copy of the free PlayLink app—can play together. All you have to do is make sure they’re all on the same Wi-Fi network.
Another game, a standard trivia quiz called Knowledge is Power, was perhaps the least interesting of the bunch but was somewhat redeemed by its slick visuals and the fact that you can dress yourself up as a hotdog for your selfie picture. Meanwhile, SingStar Celebration is the same karaoke masterpiece you might remember, only this time you can ditch the SingStar mics and use your smartphone instead.
The final game of the bunch is Hidden Agenda, a narrative-driven detective thriller from Until Dawn developer Supermassive Games. The idea behind the game supposedly came from players shouting out the answers to different decisions in Until Dawn, a game that was never designed to be a multiplayer experience. Hidden Agenda tells the story of a serial killer known as “The Trapper,” who sets up traps on the bodies of victims. You play as a detective and a district attorney tasked with tracking down the remaining victims.
Like Until Dawn, you’re given choices during each scene. Do you run away, or do you save the hostage? Are you kind and gentle during an interrogation, or strong and forceful? Each choice is put to the group, with the most popular played out. Since every character in the game can potentially die, the choices you make have a big impact on the game. But not every player works toward the same goal, with the game dishing out a “hidden agenda” to a particular player. At the end of the game the group has a chance to identify the secretive player for bonus points.
Ars Technica UK