Title: Psychic Detective
System: Playstation

 

 

 

 

The first time I played this game I was a hormonal 16-year old boy. I don’t know what it was that compelled me to rent the title (I also rented D with it) but I remember popping it in and being accosted by the terrible acting. I remember a game that was silly and laughable, the butt of jokes for many months to come between myself and those with me while playing it. I vaguely remember knowing there were multiple endings to this live-action, choose-you-own-adventure-style game but only getting the same one over and over. So you can imagine my surpise when 15 years later I put it into the player, laughed at the bad acting, and then was hit with an imaginitive and surprisingly complex game mechanism that I obviously couldn’t appreciate before.

As Eric Fox you’re a Vegas-style entertainer with the ability to touch an object and get psychic impressions. You’re asked one night by Laina Pozok to come to her father’s wake and solve why exactly it was that he died. Eric of course makes some sexual advances and then Laina shows him a way to enter a person’s mind and ride along with them, seeing and hearing whatever they do.

When you get to the wake you immediately get thrown into the story and are bombarded with options on whose mind you can enter. Each person will give you a different story, give you more options to touch objects and get impressions, even to the point where you can bounce back and forth between 2 people having a conversation fairly seemlessly. The coolest part of this jumping around is that your body is still on autopilot, being led around and interacting with other people. What happens in the story is directly related to whose body you have entered and what you’re learning. At least up until you are found with the dead body of someone at the wake.

The game progresses to the point where you can start trying to influence peoples’ minds. You can make them angry, happy, or lustful. And as a 16-year old boy, whenever the option to make a woman lust after you popped up, I spammed the button like a retarded spider monkey. So it’s no wonder that as I was supposed to be collecting memories to use in a game of psychic chess called Black Diamond against a more powerful psychic at the end of the game, I would constantly get the ending where I end up a wheelchair-bound, drooling vegetable.

With over a dozen endings (more if you’re playing the 3DO version as the Playstation edited some of the more adult content from its gameplay) and each run through only being about 45 minutes the replay value is remarkably high. Everything you do effects everything else you do in a way that only really began to scratch the surface of what that kind of positive- and negative-reinforcement would provide with newer generation consoles. The live-action thing never really caught on, which is probably for the best, and while the acting is bad the game gives you enough options that you should really only have to see the same scenes a handful of times before uncovering new ones.

ABOUT THE COMIC
As I mentioned in the review, once you get to the point in the game where you can start to influence peoples’ emotions, any time the “Lust” option popped up I would use it. It was like a funny game getting the main character hideously rejected every time you did it. Without understanding the complexities of the game and realizing that doing this was actually hurting me from getting a decent ending I never made the correlation between that and repeatedly getting the worst ending in the game. But I have to tell you, it was pretty hilarious.

RECOMMENDATION
Snow Job (3DO) – Panasonic’s 3DO system seemed to have a bit of a penchant for trying to get the live-action games a foothold in the gaming world. But because of technology and the budget not affording what people can realistically call “good acting” by any stretch of the imagination, it didn’t gain a lot of ground. Snow Job was another game like this only much more detective based. Try not to pay attention the acting and obviously it has its flaws, but it’s not really a terrible game.