Frantics Review (PlayLink)


Back when I first got my hands on PlayLink at E3 2017 there was one particular game that stood out amongst the rest and that was Frantics. Sure, Knowledge is Power is fun and Hidden Agenda is great but Frantics expanded the whole PlayLink ecosystem behind the simple gameplay we have seen up to now. Many PlayLink games are just a simple app that you press buttons and choose answers whereas Frantics takes the next step by turning your smartphone into a remote. Making use of its gyroscope, microphone and speaker, your phone becomes a controller to play these games.


Frantics is a collection mini-games that challenge the likes of Mario Party and Crash Bash. Up to four players join in and control an animal as they compete against each other to win crowns. The art style is awesome as everything looks like it has been moulded carefully with playdough and if you look carefully you can even see a fingerprint or two indented into the models. The game is presented to you by a stylish sly fox that walks around with a whisky glass in his hand. He has mysterious intentions as he pits you against your friends to beat each other and he is extremely arrogant. If anything, he is the only actual personality in the game. 


Setting up Frantics is quick and easy. Connecting to the same Wi-Fi as your PS4 or using it as a hotspot, each wanna-be farm animal in the room needs to download the Frantics app on either iOS and Android. Once set up you take a photo, it chooses an animal and you are good to go.

Each mini-game feels unlike the other as they all deliver something fun and challenging. After a few tutorial tries and a decent test run at the game, each player has to compete with the other by either beating them in scores or tampering with their route or goal in the mini-game. The games range from flying with a jetpack through a wooden log collecting coin and blocking other players from getting past to racing across a short piece of road but with a twist. Each game has been cleverly mastered to make sure that you have equal opportunity to sabotage other players and also avoid their plans too. 


One particular game sees players place mods onto each other's karts. These mods are both good and bad and can range from square wheels, turbo boosts, a propeller and even larger wheels. You plan is to make sure you slow your friends down as much as possible so you get to the end of the race faster. Choosing the best downgraded to place onto their vehicle is key and it offers some unique ways to race. I even had wings and a propeller placed on my kart and with perfect timing my ramp I flew right into the finish line first. Every race was unique and it was a challenging yet rewarding way to tamper with your friends


Pass the bomb is a simple yet fun way to throw your friends under the bus too. The bomb has an undefined timer that will tick down and explode after a set amount of time. No one knows how long it takes but you can hold the bomb and earn coins but be too greedy and you will blow yourself apart. The tension rises as the seconds count down and all my friends started to swear at me as I held onto it for too long only to pass it to them and see them fly into a dozen pieces.

One of my favourite games saw us shoot ourselves from a cannon onto a platform and beat each other with a stick until there were only two left. If two players were on the platform the round ended and those two got a point. There was this constant rush to get back on the platform and hit each other to win. It was crazy and we all swore at each other (yes I have those friends) and started physically beating each other in real life trying to numb our arms so we could lose control of the game. It's the sort of excitement that I have not had since Mario Party. 


It is hard to say if there are any bad games in the collection as that would not be the case. All of them delivered some rather intense multiplayer action and were easy master too. Some of them some people were better at and others excelled at others. At the end of the 5-round of games, there is a showdown between all the players and each of them gets lives depending on how many crowns they had won during the mini-games. This is the ultimate showdown and it gets intense. Each player uses coins they have collected in the mini-games to bid on items that come from the games. A bat used in the cannonball game, a jetpack used in the parachute game, and even bombs used in the bomb run mini-game. These items, if you win the bid are your fighting chance in this showdown and you need to use them to knock other players off the ledge. 


Some of these items do have an advantage over others but it just goes to show that the game makes sure everyone has a fair chance at the end. This is thanks to the rewards that are obtained for players who do specific things in these mini-games. If knock the player more or give the player the most downgrades on their karts then you will get coins. This means that even if you are last you could have the most coins and bid on these items which will give you an advantage in the final showdown.

Saying that you also need to be careful with your coins as throughout the game there are chances to spend them too. Some mini-games may break halfway in and you will be offered a chance to buy an item that will give you an advantage in that mini-game alone. A coin magnet, a spring chair that lets you jump higher, or even a freeze ray that freezes players. It is tempting to not spend coins on these items and save them for the finale. 


The game is fully controlled by your smartphone which makes it both accessible to everyone with or without a DualShock 4 and also easy to master. Mini-games rely on your tilting your phone left and right to move your character across the screen or in every direction when you are running around a mini-game with a top-down view. There is also always one button on your phone at all times and this activates something in the mini-game be it a simple jump, a whack of the baseball bat or the acceleration of your kart. To make it even better, when players get knocked out of a specific mini-game they can then use their phones to sabotage other players. Icons appear on the phone and if you tap the player they will freeze or the ground will start to collapse under them. 


In general, controlling your character with your phone is easy enough and titling and moving around the games is fluid. I had a few connection issues every now and then but in general, it was a breeze. Even my mom, who's gaming experience as Candy Crush, did a great job and beat me in some of the games. This could be the most accessible game on PS4 thanks to the emphasis on mobile support and the easy-to-master controls. 


Frantics is a lot of fun and it is the best PlayLink game on PS4. It does what all the other games have tried to do but in a more light-hearted manner. The mini-games are fun and the gameplay is addictive. My family and friends were playing well into the early hours of Sunday morning this past weekend. This is something that not many games can accomplish. Also, it is pennies at R329 with no additional costs at all. 

This review was based off a review code provided to us by SIE

Available On: PS4 | Reviewed On: PS4 Pro | Release Date: 6 March 2018 | RRP: R329

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Marco is the owner and founder of GLITCHED. South Africa’s largest gaming and pop culture website. GLITCHED quickly established itself with tech and gaming enthusiasts with on-point opinions, quick coverage of breaking events and unbiased reviews across its website, social platforms, and YouTube channel.

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