Erica is the kind of game I don’t like playing alone. It’s probably best suited to be played by yourself, but I know my wussy ass wouldn’t be able to get past the first act without friends. It’s not even a horror game. It’s just … tense.
The story follows a young teenage girl who’s found herself in the middle of a super creepy conspiracy. One that seems to link her father’s murder (which she witnessed as a child) with the mental hospital she grew up in.
Erica plays out like a film. But not just in feel and length, it looks like a movie too. You might have noticed from the trailer: the whole game is live-action. Somehow that adds to the surreality, and makes small moments one notch creepier.
Throughout the film, there are times where you the player need to step in. Either with the touchpad on your controller or an app downloaded onto your phone, you swipe to choose options and make Erica do stuff. And that’s it. That’s the gameplay. If that’s not your cup of tea, you can take off right now.
But I was really impressed with the way the live-action objects behaved with my interactions. Doors were opened and bows undone in a seamless fashion – or as seamless as I could swipe my touchscreen. I’ll admit that the swiping was a little awkward at times – but the picture always looked good.
Since I’m a wuss, I first played with friends and playing in a group was really fun. The game liked to throw quick decisions and all of us arguing over which option to choose added to the drama. But when we had finished the game (about two and a half hours), many noted that the game felt slow.
I had the controller the entire time, and I thought Erica had pretty good pacing. I guess watching me fail to open a lighter three times in a row would snuff a bit of the tension a spectator might feel.
There were definitely moments where the game was waiting for me to do something and I really didn’t want to do it. Steeling yourself to take a curtain off whatever horror it’s hiding is much more terrifying than simply waiting for someone else to do it. That’s my defense anyway.
I’m not a horror person. I can tell you that no one else seemed to outright scared while watching me crumple and shriek at the smallest thing. So perhaps you’ll get this game and think, pah, this isn’t scary!
It’s not scary. It’s creepy. It’s tense. And it has a good enough story to keep my mind reeling and to draw me back in despite everything. I want to know if I did the right thing. I want to know if I’ve found the right Truth. Did I trust the right people? Did I kill the wrong people?
I’m going to have to play it again.