Friday 23 February 2018

Knowledge is Power review: Lacking in Buzz

Knowledge is Power (PS4) ★★★ Age: 12+

Knowledge is Power for PS4
Knowledge is Power for PS4
Ronan Price

Ronan Price

PLAYSTATION is mighty keen to push its PlayLink tie-up with smartphones, allowing multiple players to feed into an interactive PS4 experience with their mobiles as controllers. It’s a great idea in theory but the execution leaves a little to be desired.

Many of us of a certain vintage have many fond memories of social games on earlier PlayStations. The pairing of alcohol with quiz game Buzz fuelled many an entertaining evening round my way. Knowledge is Power bears quite a lot of Buzz’s DNA, minus the engagingly toy-like physical buzzers, unfortunately.

Where Buzz majored in thematic questions, such as music or move, KiP roams across multiple disciples of popular culture in this trivia quiz, not all of them ones that can be taken seriously. It does mean that younger players having a familiarity with, say, YouTube stars will get a chance to know the answer where their elders will flounder.

Like its PlayLink predecessor That’s You!, KiP aims for a wacky, colourful style - one reminiscent of Buzz, it must be said. The fast-paced rounds are enlivened by an opportunity to hinder your opponents’ answers, by way of “bombs” lobbed in their direction. With up to six players at once, it can get delightfully hectic.

Yet it doesn’t seem to have the same larger-than-life appeal of Buzz (which was voiced by a manic Jason Donovan) and longer sessions are going to require a lot of phone chargers on hand because gameplay saps batteries like a demon.

 

Hidden Agenda (PS4)

★★ Age: 18+

ANOTHER PlayLink effort, Hidden Agenda sits on the opposite end of the “fun party game” scale to Knowledge is Power. But it’s still a multiplayer set-up, in which you follow the twisting tale of a detective on the trail of a serial killer.

From the people who brought us the schlocky but compelling Until Dawn chiller, Hidden Agenda weaves a grimy tale of murder, double-crossing and, yes, concealed motives.

The latter applies only in Competitive mode, however, and is baffling as it sounds. Story mode allows up to six players cooperate (or not) to steer conversations and decisions around the investigation. But the writing is all over the place, tonally, while the actual plot itself is hackneyed and filled with holes.

As a tech demo, it functions adequately, the mobile app keeping track of characters and plot points while allowing the player to vote for a conversation option or action. But don't dare switch to another app or you'll be booted from the game.

Perhaps a year or two down the road, Hidden Agenda could be identified as the beginning of a new wave of cooperative narrative adventures (alongside the recently reviewed Planet of the Apes: Last Frontier). For now, though, it's just a short and underwhelming chunk of pulp fiction.

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