Frantics PlayStation 4 Review

Frantics is the party game for you, just don’t expect that much variety.

By RON, Posted 23 Mar 2018

Frantics, a party game announced at last year’s E3, does not look like something too revolutionary at a first glance, until you realize the game operates with the PlayLink System. “What is the PlayLink system?”, you might ask. The ability to play the game connected to your mobile device, using it as a controller. Despite the fact that similar systems have emerged in the past, by Nintendo and Sony themselves, this time the game connects to a mobile device via an app, not requiring the purchase of an extra piece of hardware, and taking advantage of the fact that most people nowadays have at least one smartphone by their side.
 

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With this in mind, let’s dive into the world of Frantics. The first thing you might notice about this game is its curious aesthetic choice, which takes us back around 20 years, to the golden days of videogame Claymation. Given it does not look as grotesque as Clayfighters 64 used to be, it still manages to be kind of unsettling at first glance. But, as with Clayfighters itself, Frantics proves to be a whimsical and rather charismatic game despite – or maybe because of – its odd design choices. Any fan of Claymation will find something special in Frantics, and, to be honest, current graphics do a lot more justice to Claymation style than the polygonal messes that some games used to be in the late 90s.

Although the art stle might not please everyone, it is very distinctive. The character design is memorable and even cute, in a rather unsettling way. A character’s elimination is accompanied by a humorous animation, as they become clay splats if they fall to the floor or crash against a wall. Unfortunately, we can’t say the same about the music. The game’s score is rather generic. It feels more like background music that should not be noticed, which might work in puzzle games, but party games need some flavor in their music as well. That is a shame because the game’s mechanics and artistic style do provide a great combination that should’ve been topped with an equally whimsical score. At least the sound effects are as goofy as the characters.

As the game begins, you are welcomed by Fox, a nonchalant and suave, well, fox, that introduces you to the world of Frantics and its core mechanics. You play as an anthropomorphic animal, like a baboon, cow, rhinoceros or dog, and try to win as many mini games as you can. While built with up to four players in mind, the game is better played with 3 or 4 human players, but also gives the option of filling empty slots with AI.
 

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Now to the actual minigames. To be honest, they get old pretty fast and some even feel like brutal rip-offs of better known mini games-, in titles such as like Mario Party, specifically, the one in which players must balance their characters on a very slippery ice surface without falling into the abyss. Frantics has almost a carbon copy of the mini game, minus the giant balls, while also allowing the chance to get on top of other characters. The mini games are borderline entertaining and a bit unimaginative, but the interesting aspect is that, once eliminated, a player can choose to sabotage another one with commands on their phone, for example, by freezing them momentarily.

Another key element that makes the game somewhat distinct is the fact that one is allowed, and even encouraged to cheat during the games. This is actually what makes Frantics a different kind of beast. The cheating mechanic is part of the theme and tone and the game, as they are regarded as part of the crazy antics of the characters. Cheating is not game breaking, as it is available for everyone and is not too obvious at times. For example, in a game that can be described as curling but with office chairs, one must throw themselves into a giant target and has two tries to achieve a better mark; however, once your throw is over, you can still jump with the chair and move slightly across the target area to get a better place. There’s also the possibility of the next player crashing into you and moving you further away.

Another example can be seen during a racing mini game. Its goal is to make it alive through the course. Players race each other on a field with four tracks but can push the other characters away from safe paths or into obstacles, so that they lose hearts and don’t make it out of the race alive. This adds a new layer of hilarity and nonsense to an, otherwise, dull game and transforms it into something fun and actually worth playing. Furthermore, after some games, Fox will hold a public auction to get some cheating devices or, in the tradition of other party games, gimmicks to help you in future mini games. In this case, objects that are not supposed to be in a particular mini game can be used if purchased previously.
 

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Perhaps a couple more mini games added to the roster would improve the game because, at its core, it is actually entertaining although it feels kind of short. Replay value exists as with any other party game, because it is always entertaining to play casually with friends, especially non-gamers. The fact is the game delivers and, for a four people game, it is quite entertaining, but other than that, the game might fall flat if played with fewer or no human players.

The game itself plays very smoothly and the PlayLink controller is very responsive. One might expect a certain amount of lag or connectivity issues but the game performs amazingly well. If you are looking for a casual gaming session and a fun party game, Frantics is the party game for you, just don’t expect that much variety. The game is available for the PlayStation 4.

Sarwar Ron, NoobFeed
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General Information

Frantics

60/100

Platform(s): PS4
Publisher(s): Sony Interactive Entertainment
Developer(s): NapNok Games
Genres: Mini-Game
Themes: Mini-Game Collection
Release Date: 2018-03-06

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