This year we’ve seen constant improvement of PS Plus’s instant game collection. For a long time the gamers complained about the lack of quality titles and complete absence of AAA-games. Well, they can’t be unhappy now – this summer has already seen a bunch of great free games, both exclusive and multiplatform. In June we’ll be able to try Until Dawn – a cinematic interactive horror adventure – and the gory Game of Thrones. But that’s not all – along with these two titles we’ll get something different – and very new. I’m talking about That’s You! – a curious little game, which utilizes the new PlayLink mechanic.

That’s You! is not only new, but also an exclusive to PlayStation 4. Even if you’re not interested, it’ll still be a neat bonus to the two big games. After all, it’s rare when we get three free games for one platform. As I mentioned previously, this game uses a completely new system, called PlayLink. The system allows you to connect your smartphone or tablet to the console, and use them as a controller. Not a usual controller, mind you, but a touch-screen enabled controller with a camera. The phone won’t replace a DualShock 4 in standard games, but it can be a great match for specific games, made with this system in mind.

The idea is actually a good one – I wonder why no one has thought of it sooner. After all, companion apps have been around for a long time – ever since the times of PlayStation 3 (remember Mass Effect 3?). On a PS4 I’ve used my phone as a separate real-life PipBoy – and with great success. The same can be said about Just Dance games. So the technology has already been there. We just didn’t have any games.

That’s You! is a simple party game. Veteran gamers may shake their heads, saying that such casual gaming is not something they want to see on a powerful console, but they really shouldn’t. PlayLink is a great way to show console gaming to new people. In the future we’ll see even more games with the same controller mechanic – even more serious ones, with a plot and more complex gameplay.

Connecting the devices

As I was saying, That’s You! is very easy to understand. It’ll take you and your friends no more than ten minutes to understand it, but unlike any other game on PlayStation 4, it requires more preparation. Since it’s controlled by a smartphone or a tablet, you’ll have to install it there first. It is probably the first game which completely ditches standard PlayStation controllers.

First you have to install an app from the App Store or Google Play. Be sure to have Android 4.4 and higher or iOS 9 or higher. The rest is easy: open both the app and the game, and you’ll connect automatically. Nothing complicated.

Ironically, my Sony smartphone turned out to be too old all this nonsense, and I had to use other devices. At least I had other devices! Others might not be so lucky. For testing I used Xiaomi MiPad 2 tablet and Meizu U20 smartphone. At least Sony doesn’t mind that we use smartphones from other manufacturers – they weren’t as open with the Remote Play function.

Both the tablet and the smartphone ran the app with no problems. I used both with convenience and ease. Synchronization is fast and painless, the signal is strong and stable. In a matter of seconds any phone can be used as a real controller. If you use one Wi-Fi network, the preparation will be easy. On the other hand, if you connect the console via the cable (after all, why wouldn’t you?), or don’t have Wi-Fi at all… well, in this case you won’t be able to play, no matter how many DualShocks you have on you.

Gameplay

That’s You! is a weird name, but it summarizes the game neatly. It is a party game, but unlike others (like Mario Party or Mario Kart) it actually requires you to know the person you’re playing with. The more you know the person, the better. The idea is simple: this is a quiz game, where all players have to answer questions about each other. Right answer gives you points; wrong answer leaves you with nothing. In the end you’ll get to see how well you know each other, and who knows more.

The game has a lot of different questions – more than a thousand. The variety is good, and the questions themselves can be quite hard – even for those who don’t have to guess what the other players are saying. Like, once the game asked me what’s better – to kick a fox, which is terrorizing little bunnies, or to leave it alone, because it too has babies. Like, what? I don’t know what to say, and neither do all the others. Sometimes questions can be… uncomfortable. You can turn those off in the settings.

During play you can use the Jokers – tokens which grant you twice the points, if guessed correctly. In case of wrong answer, you’ll get no points and lose one joker.

That’s You! is played like that: first, the topic is selected by random, and then the main player, whose actions all other players must guess. If you are that player, you must honestly answer any question – and other will try to guess your choice. That’s why you need to know those you play with. Otherwise it’s just fifty-fifty chance of success. I have to mention, though, that because there are only two possible answers, there were situations when I couldn’t answer at all – nothing looked like something I’d do. These unfortunate situations are when the game fails. But it’s not crucial, and doesn’t spoil the otherwise fun game.

In order to make the game less tedious and more versatile, and make use of smartphones’ capabilities, the developers also added two other modes: photo mode and drawing mode.

Sounds a little silly, and it is. In photo mode you have to imitate a photo or create some kind of situation. This “selfie mode” was not my cup of tea to say the least – I’m just not that kind of person. The idea is simple: make silly faces and try to cope the photo on the screen. A neat idea to make use of smartphones’ cameras, but I was not impressed. The sad thing is, unlike the “uncomfortable questions” there’s no way to turn other modes off. So even if you are fatally shy, there’s nothing you can do to escape the embarrassment – only not to play at all. There nothing to guess in that mode, just chose whichever photo you like the best.

Another mode requires you to draw something. Sometimes, you’ll have to add something to a real picture (draw a person, for example) or to decorate something like a t-shirt. You have a limited time to draw, so don’t expect to see masterpieces. The app is quite nice – it has different brushes in different sizes, and it’s more than enough for a few seconds.

The problem is, modes like that divide the players. While everyone can answer question, not everyone can draw. There’s a chance that among you is a very talented person, who will crush others. Once again, it’s not critical, but destroys the parity.

Of all modes I liked the main one (questions) the most. But I can’t really judge this game, since I’m not the target audience. I still think the idea to bring smartphones and consoles closer is a sound one, but I don’t think phones will ever replace the controllers. Knowing modern phones, it’s easy to predict someone’s phone turning off because of low charge. One dead phone and its game over.

While playing, I came across a peculiar thought: maybe games like that are better suited for people who already had something to drink. That way a person is more easygoing and open to things that otherwise make him uncomfortable. This is only a theory, and from a person who never drinks.

What I really liked about That’s You! is the ability to make your own questions. Once again Sony is staying true to their dedication to create user-content friendly games. You can make any questions in any category whilst on your phone. No connection to the console or even the Internet is required. That way you can be ready for an awesome party with specially prepared questions, which is even more fun. The game can be tricky, but never as tricky as friends who know how to make the most embarrassing questions.

It’s sad to see no real way to download questions from the Internet. Just think of how great that could have been: special quizzes about different interests like sports or, say, Star Trek. Still, I’ve heard that Sony is making a whole game like that, which could be amazing for the reasons I’ve mentioned. Phones are great for gameplay like that.

The app can also serve as a separate game, albeit a very limited one. You can play a drawing game, which asks a player to snap a photo and then add something to it. Like, make a photo of someone squatting and then draw them on a ski trip. A fine idea, but only for a couple of tries. Still, it’s nice that the app is not merely a companion, but also a separate game.

It’s worth noting that That’s You! supports online play.

Presentation, graphics and sound

You normally don’t expect anything extraordinary in terms of graphics from a party game, but I’ve got to say: they really tried to make this game stand out with unusual carnival theme and interesting atmosphere, varying from topic to topic.

Every topic has a specific “hub”, which illustrates the theme. Every hub is created with attention to detail and has its own specific atmosphere: a carnival is shiny from the rain and the police station is brimming with small details. These scenes are surprisingly big, but I can see as to why: when there are many players (the game supports from 2 to 6 players), some are bound to take longer time than others. In order to not get bored, the game offers a distraction.

Let me remind you – you can’t look at your phone, which has turned into a controller for a time being. Don’t close the app or you’ll lose a turn, which will harm your chances of success and the overall game session.

In terms of sound there’s nothing to write home about: a few nice melodies and ambient atmospheric sounds. Some parts of the soundtrack are fine, but I quickly grew tired of them after couple of repeats. Two matches at the police station, and I was ready to never hear the melody again.

In terms of performance it’s all a-okay. No slowdowns, freezes or problems with the connection. The app also works great, but I can’t speak for every smartphone there is, of course.

Final thoughts

That’s You! is a curious attempt at creating a completely new way of playing a game. Taking an ordinary thing that everyone uses and turning it into a replacement for an expensive controller is a good idea with lots of potential. Some people might think otherwise, but That’s You! is a free game for now – an added bonus to an already great lineup of freebies. But can it become a new party classic? Often it’s games with unusual controls that become modern classics of the genre – just remember the insanely awesome Sportsfriends.

So, can it? The answer is disappointing – I don’t know. It’s just that I’m not actually the target audience. Technically, it’s great. The new concept works fine, the gameplay is easy and original. Smartphones really help to play the game in a completely new way – in a way, impossible with a standard controller. It reminds me of what Nintendo tried to do with the Wii U – and failed. Asymmetrical gameplay at its finest.

Still, there are things that require improvements. There’s no filter for different modes. Some people might not be able to play the game simply because they don’t have modern phones with up-to-date OS. This can lead to uncomfortable situations. After all, not all of us change phones on yearly basis. I was only lucky to have a modern tablet at home. Otherwise I’d be screwed. This problem is something mobile games know all too well (remember the last year’s Pokémon GO frenzy?), but console gamers might be in for an unpleasant surprise.

Another interesting flaw can easy be overlooked, but it’s a flaw nonetheless: That’s You! completely ignores PS Vita. I know, I know, PS what? But in all seriousness, this console is still being produced, there are new games for it and the Japanese love it. It has a touchscreen and a camera (not a “selfie camera”, but still a camera).  I mean, I have a modern PlayStation console, which has all the functions of a smartphone, but couldn’t use it! It doesn’t seem right to me.

Still, I can honestly say that I enjoyed my time with That’s You! As a tech demo, it demonstrates the future of PlayLink. The system works, and a phone can replace a controller, if the game is designed specifically for that. As with any new idea, it might get rejected from more “hardcore” gamers or those who simply couldn’t play, but those who can might be happy to find a new way to have fun with friends of relatives. The game is free on PS Plus since the 4th of July. You’ll be able to but it starting tomorrow.