REVIEW : Erica (PC)
Erica has arrived on PC after a brief stint as a PS4 exclusive. It shines as an interactive movie game in blending outstanding cinematography with the interactivity of video games to offer a riveting thriller whose ending you can choose. While the genre isn’t for everyone, Erica is a high-quality cinematic game that will appeal to anyone who enjoys these kinds of experiences.
Interactive film games are a subgenre that blends live-action films with simple gaming features. With these two aspects combined, you are placed in the director’s chair, with the ability to determine how the tale unfolds.
Erica, an interactive movie game starring Beowulf actor Holly Earl, was released in August 2019. It was first launched for the PlayStation 4, where it diverged from most games by relying on the DualShock 4’s touchpad as its primary input method. You control who lives and who dies in this thriller by interacting with things in Erica’s environment, selecting dialogue options, and making critical decisions under time limits.
STORY – A BEAUTIFUL HORROR
Erica begins with the titular protagonist and her father sitting before the fireplace. She is a small child, and her father is telling her about her lovely mother, who is no longer with them. Her father’s time with her is cut short when he is murdered by a mysterious woman who carves a bizarre symbol in his breast.
Erica is now a young adult living on her own. Her father’s gruesome demise continues to haunt her. Her nightmares, however, are far from done. On a seemingly normal day, she receives a parcel in the mail and opens it to find a gory severed hand carrying a necklace bearing the same sign cut into her father’s chest.
The game’s short length also allows for several playthroughs, which you’ll want to do if you want to obtain a complete picture of the tale and view things from all angles. Playthroughs can be drastically varied depending on the decisions you make, resulting in vastly different game experiences each time you start it up. I’d played Erica maybe four times on PS4 before, but I had no issue playing it again on PC because of how replayable the game is.
Sargent Duncan Blake is also examining Erica’s case. He is a bit of an enigma, even though he appears to have Erica’s best interests at heart. It is up to you how you react to these people and who you listen to. You should approach cautiously, however, because many lives are at stake.
Erica will not disappoint anyone who likes campy horror stories with a dash of mystery and a whiff of the otherworldly. Throughout its playability, it will toss bizarre hints and symbols at you, leaving you wondering what it all means and itching for a second playthrough to observe things from other perspectives.
GAMEPLAY – THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS
Erica’s gameplay, like that of most interactive cinema games, is straightforward. However, it is executed very well and adds immersion while giving you the impression that you have some control over how the narrative unfolds. You will be able to interact with objects in the surroundings such as lighters, pianos, bells, and telephones throughout the game. This can be done with your mouse or a controller, both of which Erica supports.
Those who prefer to utilise their DualShock or DualSense controllers should be aware that the touchpad can be used to operate the on-screen cursor. If the touchpad is too tiny, the appropriate analogue stick can be used instead.
Making dialogue choices for Erica also influences how other characters respond to her. Whether you are friendly or mean to the females at Delphi House determines how many friends and adversaries you have.
Some of the options offered will have to be made under time constraints. These are possibly some of the most exciting moments in the game. You must decide who you can trust, which clues to pursue, and whether or not you are willing to kill.
When you make different choices and see different outcomes, the ramifications of your actions become clear on consecutive playthroughs. You can learn more about Delphi House’s mysteries by simply following pathways you had not previously chosen or by choosing to trust other characters.
Although you won’t be button-mashing like in your favourite Mortal Kombat game, Erica incorporates light interactivity in a genre-appropriate manner. Rather than seeming like a simplified video game, it feels more like an upgraded film that gives you a welcome sense of power over the ending.
GRAPHICS AND AUDIO – AS GOOD AS A MOVIE
Erica’s amazing aesthetics are one of her most notable characteristics. The live-action film is of high quality and is made up of a variety of fascinating shots that make use of an eclectic mix of light and colour. Furthermore, the game’s thriller atmosphere is maintained by the scenery, which effectively frightens you out. Delphi House, for example, is a little too nice, with its pastel colours and lovely furnishings, and makes you feel uneasy.
The game is rife with intriguing symbolism that will require numerous playthroughs before you comprehend how everything fits together. There is always something to catch your eye, from the gorgeous pink flowers that appear in Erica’s dreams to the cute fox she starts seeing in unusual locations.
The audio is likewise good, with well-placed BOOM moments when the situation calls for it. Austin Wintory’s stringy soundtrack further contributes to the tense mood as more of Delphi House’s mysteries are revealed.