Erica Review: A Macabre Interactive Thriller

Over the long weekend I took a couple hours to play the game Erica on PS4. I was excited to try it. As a live action narrative game, it feels like watching a movie — except that you get to dive in and make key decisions to affect the outcome of the story.

Here’s my quick review, free of any major spoilers!

In the game, you take the role of Erica, a young woman who wants to find out who murdered her father. As a child, she saw the killer, a hooded woman who she barely remembers as anything more than two eyes behind a gun. Her memory of the murder comes in flashes and nightmares, and actor Holly Earl plays Erica as a soft-spoken, almost fearful victim of her past.

The cop Sgt. Blake (played by Duncan Casey) takes Erica back to the mental institution where her father worked as a doctor, alongside Erica’s mother, who was a nurse. Because Erica’s mother died young, Erica craves more information about her. Yet whenever Sgt. Blake leaves the room, Erica receives mysterious phone calls from the killer, saying that everyone at the institute will lie to her, that her mother was a victim, and that her father deserved to die.

Erica Game Screenshot.jpgThis game definitely creeped me out. I played it at night, which upped the spookiness. Erica is nowhere near horror, but with the murder investigation, terrifying phone calls, strange dreams, and talks of conspiracy at the mental institution, it’s a thriller that will have the hairs standing up on the back of your neck.

I enjoyed the story, although it felt like it wrapped up fast. Just as I was starting to feel comfortable with the setting and coming up with my theories about who to trust — about halfway, I thought — the game whisked me to the end stage. Without giving away any spoilers, I’ll just say that I didn’t want to trust a certain person, but the game pushed me to do so in order to progress. At least, that’s how I took it. After saying “no” quite a few times, I finally gave in and carried on to the final scenes of the story.

There are a handful of endings depending on how you handle some of the final scenarios. I only played one ending, but I was happy with the way things turned out. In my playthrough, Erica was a survivor who forged bonds with the other patients — that’s all I will say for now! As soon as the game was over, I immediately went online and watched all the other possible endings. I was expecting some duds in the mix, but every ending was surprisingly intriguing.

If you’re interested in the future of interactive storytelling, I would highly recommend giving this game a try — especially if you enjoy a little psychedelia and/or psychology in your stories. It only took me about two hours to play through, and you can use either your controller or your phone. I actually played on my phone just for fun, and it was such an easy experience that I’d even recommend it to a family member who doesn’t play games — it would be a unique way to introduce them to narrative adventures, and you can still enjoy it as a viewer! It’s like being part of a movie.

Did anybody else play Erica? What did you think, and were you satisfied with your ending?

— Ashley

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