Knowledge is Power

Knowledge is Power
Knowledge is Power

Knowledge is Power is a pleasant surprise and a good start for the PlayLink gameplay design for Sony Interactive Entertainment. It’s a clever trivia game that uses mobile control scheme well and adds a layer of vicious fun with power plays against opponents. It does move a tinge bit slow, but for the most part it’s a solid trivia experience.

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I was incredibly skeptical about this game. I love me some quiz game, having cut my trivia teeth on the likes of Twisted on the 3DO, but using your phone in conjunction with the PlayStation 4, I mean, what the hell would be the point? Oh, dear readers, I didn’t realize what a Dreamcast-esque experience I was in for with this method of gameplay. This method harkened back to the NFL 2K days of play calling on the DC and it worked oh so well. Trying to make that connection? Let me help.

The Sega Dreamcast, in all its flaws of not having a DVD-ROM inside of it, made one of the coolest experiences for sports fans with they use of Sega’s VMU (Virtual Memory Unit), a small screen, that could be inserted into the controller. In NFL 2K it allowed you, for the first time, to call a play and your opponent wouldn’t be able to figure out what you dialed up. All your plays were on the small VMU screen, hidden away from whomever you were playing, so they couldn’t see what you were doing. It was brilliant and hasn’t really repeated since, sadly.

This correlates beautifully with how Knowledge is Power works. You use your iOS/Android device (phone or tablet) to input answers to trivia the game presents. Since it’s done via WiFi, which the developers at Wish Studios made easy to use/connect, you can travel anywhere in your household that is in sight of the television to hide your trivia answers away from other competitors. Again, I wasn’t immediately certain of the use of a mobile device for this game, but it turned out very well and it actually makes the game more fun.

Staying with the device, once you log into the game through your mobile device, which requires you to download a free app via App Store/Google Play, then you are asked for your name. You can be as offensive as you would like, as ‘Your Ass’ was my go to name of choice through out (it made the interns laugh. They’re so easy to please). Once your name is chosen, then you pick a character icon (avoid the hotdog) and then you get to take a screenshot of your face with that character’s costume intact. Once you do that, then the game begins.

The gameplay is what you would expect from a trivia-based game. The first four rounds of gameplay have you picking a category and then answering a question (four answers to choose from during each question). Deciding on who picks the category (if you have 2-4 players) is broken down into a few processes. The first process is that everyone in the group gets a ‘power play’ option (only one per game) that will allow them to force-choose the category for the players. For example, if I wanted the movies category and everyone else was going after music, then I would press ‘Power Play’ and choose movie. This forces the category onto everyone else. Of course, I never get to choose ‘Power Play’ again in the game, so you have to plan when to use such a thing. I highly recommend hanging onto it until you can’t.

The second way of choosing a category in a group is a roulette way to do things. A small white-dotted underline is spun virtually through categories and whatever category it stops on is what is chosen. It’s simple and it works, but only is used if everyone in the group chooses a different category, which brings me to the last way of choosing — majority rules. I don’t need to explain that, but it’s another way of doing things with category choosing.

Once the category has been chosen, then it’s time to answer whatever question pops up. The fastest to answer correctly ends up getting the most points, then you move on to the next. Everyone who answers correctly gets points, but it’s scaled by speed. Now, to throw a wrench into the entire process, each player is awarded ‘Power Play’ distractions (green goop/bomb/red thingy that bites/ice) that they can use against other players to prevent them from speedily answering questions. For example if I chose green goop for player 2, then my character throws green goop on them that appears over each answer (they have to wipe it away to look at the answers, which takes away time). It’s like a tiny annoyance that hinders you from doing things fast. You can double-up on people winning to make it even more difficult for them. Those that double-up are called a-holes.

Now, in the 5th round and 9th/10th (can’t remember which) round of the game the gameplay changes up a bit. The 5th round, of the five games I played, had everyone connect two objects of interest together instead of answering trivia questions. For example, the first connect the dots game was about famous celebrities and shows what they are known for (I had to connect celebrity name to show). You swipe from name to show and keep swiping until you get them all. The most connections in the allotted amount of time the game gives equals out to a certain amount of points. It’s easy and it works well with the mobile device being used. I’m not sure you could have done this well on the DS4 touchpad, so bravo for mobile device usage.

The next to last round of the game has you doing something similar, except you are given a category, for example my first was ‘Wood Working Tool or Wrestling Move’, and you have to swipe whatever word comes up in the middle to the correct category it fits (to the left/right of the screen). This round is quick and for the most part, especially the above category, quite funny. It’s a neat way to throw some variety into the mix.

Once you complete the initial amount of rounds in the regular part of the game, the final stage of the game involves a gigantic pyramid (see below) in which you have to climb to the top to win. Based on how many points you’ve gathered during the main gameplay equals out to what level you begin on with the pyramid. Obviously, the more points you have garnished, the higher you are at the beginning of the final stage. The ultimate goal is to get to the top, so it’s a motivating factor to collect points when you’re playing the first 10 rounds of the game. Each level of the pyramid contains on trivia question and a power play that you can use against other players. Each level is different, though it does repeat at some point. The more points you gain during this final round equals out to you jumping a level (or several) during gameplay. It’s an interesting way to finish out a game of trivia, as it does give players who are losing a fighting chance for redemption.

As gameplay goes, Knowledge is Power is, for the most part, fun. I think the game moves just a little slow in between rounds, as I found myself trying to skip dialogue and get us into the next question quickly, but the animation and the way you can really screw with opponents is clever, as are the variety of questions given. The price tag isn’t bad either, as the game comes in at $19.99, certainly a price worth paying for some good trivia. I would play this game at home with the kids/wife, and I intend to do so during the holiday break, so it does have some longevity to it. All in all, though, and at least in my opinion, this game does a good job of bringing back memories of 3DO’s Twisted, which I consider the best trivia game to date. I know people want to crown You Don’t Know Jack, but Twisted for me.