September 26, 2022

Die Nite

Are people who control the game

As somebody who grew up gaming in the early ’90s, it’s been fun to see...

As somebody who grew up gaming in the early ’90s, it’s been fun to see the resurgence of full-motion video games, or FMV games, in the past several years. It’s not just that technology has evolved and become much more accessible to your average creator compared to back then, but those who pursue making an FMV game also think of clever ways to use the format beyond just splicing live-action cutscenes into typical video games, as was often the case in the early days of FMV. One of the more interesting takes on the FMV genre launched as a PlayStation 4 exclusive back in 2019, but has made its way to iOS this week, and it’s called Erica – Interactive Thriller from developer Flavourworks.

Erica features extremely high production values, excellent acting, and a compelling story. You slowly unravel a suspenseful mystery by choosing branching paths and dialogues, which can result thousands of different variations and multiple outcomes to the story. All of this is very good, but also pretty typical of most modern FMV games. What really sets Erica apart is something the developers call Touch Video. This means that there are certain scenes or objects in the game which you can directly interact with using the touchscreen. This could be flipping the lid and lighting a Zippo, unfolding the flaps of a box, or flipping through the pages of a journal.

The Touch Video aspect is a bit gimmicky, but also really compelling, especially on the iOS touchscreen (compared to a physical controller on PS4). The Touch Video portions are also live action film, and the ability to control the actions directly gives everything a really trippy feeling that’s tough to explain. These sequences are also typically filmed at a very close distance to whatever the interactive object is in the game, and it again shows off just how high quality the production and filming is in Erica.

My one big caveat with Erica is something that appears to be a bug, and Flavourworks is already looking into it. It also doesn’t seem to affect everybody. Being an FMV game it’s obviously a large file size, and there’s additional data that needs to be downloaded while you play. It’s supposed to seamlessly happen in the background, but many users are reporting it happening suddenly right in the middle of the story, basically forcing you to stare at a loading screen and wrecking the immersion. It’s extremely unfortunate because Erica is the type of game you want to put on some nice headphones, turn off all the lights, and curl up with, so anything that takes you out of the experience is a bad thing.

That said, even with that strange content downloading issue, I’d urge everyone to give Erica a try just to see what a top-notch experience it is production-wise, and to experience the novel Touch Video firsthand. It’s free to download and try with a one-time IAP to buy the full game if you enjoy it, so no harm in checking it out.