Back in April, we reported on a rumor that the PlayStation 4 was getting MP3 support. Nothing official came from Sony, but many people thought it likely that the console would get some sort of external music compatibility at some point. Recently, we got more evidence that such an update is in the works.
According to reddit user IWorkForSony, who has been verified by r/PS4 subreddit moderators as a Sony employee, Sony is currently developing an update for the PS4 that will bring MP3 and video player support by the holiday season. The user also said that DLNA media server support will come some time in 2015.
The user went on to address the upcoming public beta test for PlayStation Now, Sony's game streaming service that's been in private beta for a few months. When someone asked about rumors circulating that owners of PlayStation 3 games may get free access to those same titles via PS Now, IWorkForSony negated the possibility. "Those rumors are wrong," he wrote. "Entitlements for PS3 games won't carry over to PS Now." As for the reason why Sony will not provide discounts, he explained, "Unfortunately, it just doesn't make business sense for Sony to transfer entitlements to PS Now. Streaming games costs them money."
Finally, he revealed that a subscription model for PS Now is still in the works, and that the beta is to test different pricing models.
This week, the user also revealed that the PlayStation Mobile app is getting a substantial overhaul. "There's a redesign in the works," he stated. "It should be more functional and modern (read: less cheesy blue boxes)."
As for the legitimacy of IWorkForSony, I reached out to the moderators and they confirmed that he has provided evidence as to his employment at Sony. Mod IceBreak wrote, "We saw things that pretty much guarantee [he] works for Sony. Besides that there were debug unit OS pictures. I can't elaborate more than that or share the pictures due to the anonymity of the user but I also want to let you know what we used to verify [him]."
We've asked Sony for comment and will update this story if we receive word. Will you take advantage of MP3 support on the PS4? Let us know in the comments.
The first time Only If induced rage was when I returned to its single major choice--a point at which you must choose one chess piece over another. No matter which piece I chose, the game surged forward in the same manner, leaving me to wonder if it were passing judgment on the illusion of player agency in video games. Given the way the dialogue often focuses on the player character's lack of control, it was easy to presume that the Italian-American caricature that guides you through the game was playing a role similar to the narrator in The Stanley Parable, pointing out the limitations of the medium through humor and self-aware gameplay. As it happens, I was giving Only If too much credit: the game had simply broken, and returning to the title menu was not a proper fix. Only after closing the game and restarting it did it function properly, shattering not the illusion of player control, but the assumption that I was playing a working product.
The second time Only If induced rage was when the player character called the apparent mafioso taunting him a "pedophilic faggot," a homophobic outburst that may have worked had the character using the phrase been a full-fledged human being rather than a randy adolescent with no empathetic characteristics. Only If had already toyed with homophobia with a bit of throwaway dialogue about "giving the kid the D," but that conversation lingered because of how it informed the plot, not because of its blatant offensiveness. The sputtered "faggot" accusation came later, after I had come to suspect that the game was not in fact a clever mystery but instead a perverted display of bro-dude self-expression. My suspicion was confirmed when Only If concluded with a story "twist" that M. Night Shyamalan might have concocted if he were a drug-addled, sexually frustrated high school senior.
Only If's ending marked the third time the game induced rage, and it was a rage that dogged me as I played the game a second and then a third time, hoping to find signs of a message with greater meaning than the disgusting finale let on, but if such a message exists, it is either too subtle to notice or too unnecessary to care about. Perhaps Only If means to parody games like Proteus or Gone Home, experiences that use simple forms of player interaction to reveal greater truths and subvert expectations, but I don't believe this game has such noble ambitions.
If my thought process is all over the place, it's because Only If itself brings with it no apparent logic, jumping between gameplay styles faster than Mario leaps between platforms. Games have successfully played with player perception of genre and game logic, of course--Thirty Flights of Loving is one great example of this kind of thematic skewing--but Only If's gameplay is frequently busted and typically uncomfortable. It all begins after you've awakened after an apparent night of intoxicated debauchery and sexual romping, with an angry voice taunting you via old-fashioned radio.
Soon after, the voice leads you to an opulent room in which a chessboard rests on a table and landscapes adorn the walls. Only If then presents a choice that's meant to be uncomfortable, but most discomfort comes from the game's own screen tearing and jittery behavior in these early minutes. At this stage, you might suppose Only If is a puzzle game, but if it is, it's a terrible one, providing the exact steps to the task at hand both here and elsewhere, and never allowing your imagination to blossom. In any case, the choice leads to one of the game's two branches, one of which leads back to this same parlor and forces you to make the other decision anyway. So much for facing the consequences of your own selfishness, which the foul-mouthed narrator intimates is the purpose of the 45 minutes of gameplay that follow.
Those 45 minutes are indeed a punishment, but for you the player, as opposed to the manchild you control from a first-person view. A few vignettes are sewn together, each providing an arbitrary rule for you to follow, such as running toward an orb before the walls of the surrounding limbo close on you, determining whether the button prompts wish you to press the assigned key or quickly mash it, or navigating a marsh without colliding with a patch of floating darkness or inadvertently wandering out of the level. This is trial and error gone wrong, with Only If chastising you not for failing to overcome an obvious challenge, but rather for not being able to read the creator's mind. After these random scenes of weirdness, you must escape a house where more capricious rules govern your direction, and where puzzles are so tedious that even the main character himself complains about them.
In spite of the clumsy gameplay and abysmal storytelling, a few ideas glimmer just brightly enough to grab your attention. On specific occasions you hear the voices of armed pursuers and see the beams of their flashlights, and while these unseen stalkers can catch you, you never see their bodies or faces. Such moments provide a twinge of intensity, forcing you to run away or find the prescribed hiding place so that you can catch your breath. The other story branch brings with it a new set of environments and metaphysical exploration, and there, too, you notice beacons of hope: puzzles in which you type out commands on your keyboard, attractive pastoral music that matches the beauty of the vibrant flowers and blooming trees that surround you, and enough enigmatic visual and audio cues to make you wonder about the nature of this world and your place within it.
Any goodwill Only If earns only fuels further disappointment, however, dwindling away during a tragic platforming sequence that highlights the game's unresponsive controls and incessant glitches. Eventually, the bite-size levels lose any sense of continuity, with every new pseudo-clever mechanic seemingly pulled from an ever-rotating bingo ball cage, and each sequence glitched or bugged in some manner or another. The insulting finale may be devoid of creative worth, but it at least signals the end of an experiment that was best left unperformed.
Given the appropriation of elements associated with narrative-driven exploration games like The Stanley Parable, you'd suppose that Only If were trying to communicate something meaningful. After all, buggy behavior and clunky locomotion make it a mechanical failure, leaving the story and themes to make good where gameplay could not. Alas, irredeemable characters and loathsome dialogue aren't appropriate pillars upon which to erect a substantial tale. The collapse was inevitable; Only If's wretched ending only ensures that the construct's remnants are reduced to unrecognizable rubble.
Gods Will Be Watching makes you question your role as a spacefaring hero. You are goaded into thinking that you can accomplish each of the game's challenges with grace. But things are never quite that easy. The choices defined as good or bad are not so easy to make; hard decisions can come with a great cost, and sometimes sacrificing a few is not only inevitable, but necessary for the sake of many. Though the game provides excellent challenge and unforgettable emotional moments, highly randomized levels and irritating glitches ultimately diminish the emotional impact Gods Will Be Watching so desperately tries to impart.
The game leans heavily on sci-fi cliches to tell its story. The plot involves government corruption, slavery, and an interstellar terrorist group that can be stopped only by a legendary military hero, worn down by years of service. Though it felt familiar, I found myself taken in by the story, especially with the scenes that emphasize the inner turmoil of the game's enigmatic protagonist, who questions his purpose in the universe. The rare yet wonderful moments of human emotion that occasionally popped up were not expected, and won't soon be forgotten. But despite the interesting story, the game's primary focus is not on its narrative. At its core, Gods Will Be Watching is a resource manager, where the fates of many lives are in your hands.
Across most of its six chapters, the point-and-click puzzler places you in a room with a group of people and a set of tasks to complete in order to reach a certain goal before the end of a timer. The timer varies, ranging from a typical countdown to the setting of the sun in a passing day. You are given a set number of actions before the timer moves ahead. The available actions are separated into color-coded tasks of green and red, and it's important to note the difference between the two. Green tasks allow you to assess a situation by asking characters questions on how to approach a puzzle, or by checking in on everyone's mental status. Such queries can be made without passing any time.
Red tasks are the actions you perform to advance in the completion of the puzzle. They can range from rotating members of a dig team clearing a blocked exit in one scene, to writing a motivational speech to boost team morale in another. Performing a red task, however, comes with a caveat: with every move, you burn away precious time from the meter. If you fail to reach your goal before the clock hits zero, you must restart the mission.
The game has strict rules for how many actions you can perform at a given time, and if you're not observant, it's easy to make a mistake that could cost you dearly. In the early stages, I found myself perplexed that the game prevented me from accomplishing more tasks in a given time. In one mission, I was charged with keeping my team alive in a harsh, frozen environment. It seemed straightforward; however, I once forgot to put wood on the fire because I was busy crafting sharpened spears for hunting food, as well as focusing on repairing a busted radio necessary for calling in a rescue. I only noticed the innocent mistake just as the sun set on the distant, mountain-peaked horizon, and by then it was too late. The game informed me that my team had frozen to death, and I had to try again.
Success in Gods Will Be Watching requires a lot of trial and error, as well as many restarts. But though the missions are challenging, they rarely feel unfair. Most failures come from negligence, such as in the aforementioned example, or by pushing things beyond a breaking point. To elaborate, your first mission has you keeping four hostages in line while impeding a group of officers as you download data from a computer. Threatening or hurting the hostages keeps them from getting any clever ideas, but too much pressure causes a revolt, and you lose your leverage. On the other hand, too much leniency encourages them to fight back, and once more you end up with a major problem on your hands. Gods Will Be Watching is a game that challenges you with an abundance of difficult problems, many of which prey on your morals.
It's fitting that the lead character is named Burden, because he faces moral dilemmas that would weigh on the shoulders of even the most stalwart individuals. The line separating right and wrong is often blurred in Gods Will Be Watching. Eschewing traditional choice systems where you can pursue a clearly defined good or evil path, the game often presents situations where the right choice doesn't always produce a good outcome, and sometimes survival means making sacrifices.
One chapter has you trapped in a cave sealed by debris, where you must produce an antidote to a deadly virus--which has infected the whole team--within a time limit. You must use a small team of scientists to concoct an antidote out of a mix of different compounds. But with no one else around, you have to use your team as test subjects for this possible cure. You can inject a weak dosage into a character, which allows you to move toward finding a cure at a leisurely pace. But as the clock counts down, you face the reality that you will progress at a faster pace if you use more lethal dosages. So, what should you do? Should you endanger the lives of your teammates with a possibly deadly antidote, or risk losing everything if you don't? The situations are stark and brutal, and rarely offer easy choices.
Gods Will Be Watching is defined by sentimental moments cleverly designed to foster emotional attachments to some characters, which in turn informs how you approach missions. One particular moment that stuck in my mind occurred during a chapter that consisted entirely of a torture scene--yes, the whole chapter. Between moments where I witnessed knees being hammered and teeth being ripped from jaws as I uncomfortably squirmed in my seat, there existed moments where the two characters, Burden and his friend and fellow soldier Jack, sat alone tied to their chairs.
Tortured during the day, the men used the time at night to raise their spirits; Burden recited encouraging speeches, while Jack reminisced about the simple pleasures of life outside of war, going so far as to jokingly talk about leaving it all behind to become a farmer. It was the kind of dark humor that only two people who have known each other for a long time, through many desperate situations, can share. The following day, I found myself less willing to make Jack take the brunt of the torturer's anger. I wanted to try to see Jack and Burden through the ordeal, because while the dream of a peaceful life was laughed about, it was still a dream worth holding onto.
The game is designed with minimalistic but colorful aesthetics, and developer Deconstructeam created some rather brilliant ways for the visuals to convey emotion. Not long after that dreaded torture scene, you are presented with a gorgeous purple sunset that washes away the gruesome memories of pliers and steel grates caked with blood. The many detailed animations are just as fantastic. In one moment, the crack of a rifle causes a room of hostages to flinch in shock, perhaps causing the prisoners to grab their knees and hold them close to their chests. Emotional nuances can also be incredibly subtle. The movement of one pixel, representing the tapping foot of a torturer as he seeks out a "negotiation" tool on a wall of deadly instruments, somehow creates far more anxiety than the devices themselves.
At its core, Gods Will Be Watching is a resource manager, where the fates of many lives are in your hands.
Gods Will Be Watching is not without its problems, some of which are serious. One of the more unfortunate issues lies with story continuity. In many chapters, not all characters make it out alive, depending on your actions. However, the narrative doesn't mark that against you because you quickly discover that the dead characters continue along with the story, despite their previously deceased nature. Naturally, I was confused at first. I half expected the game to explain how they were clones. But no, they just came back to life with no immediate explanation. It does make some sense, since subsequent levels would be impossible without a full team. Still, their resurrection removes the impact of their deaths, and by the fourth chapter, I found myself no longer caring for their safety as I once had. The game does go so far as to offer a possible explanation behind their inferred immortality, but by then, it no longer mattered.
During its second half, Gods Will Be Watching begins to fall apart. Glitches crop up in swarms, causing the game to crash to desktop or characters to get stuck in various objects, forcing you to restart the level. Even worse than the glitches are the two chapters late in the story that replace the challenging puzzle mechanics with completely randomized situations.
The most damning example is the fifth chapter, where you must guide a small platoon of soldiers to their base camp while attempting to survive a scorching, nightless desert. You are given only vague directions to the camp, and getting there is a nightmare. You don't know what lies ahead of the group. It could be a stretch of desert, or an enemy camp that you have to either circumvent or attack with your limited stock of ammunition. You can send scouts ahead, but it takes time, and there's a chance they could disappear. More than once I had almost reached the base, but either a wall would appear ahead of me or I'd end up surrounded by enemy bases and my ammo had run dry a while back. The mission was infuriating, and it soured my experience with the game; I impatiently flew through the final missions, driven by the desire to leave the fury behind me.
At its best, Gods Will Be Watching is brimming with challenging puzzles and an emotionally charged story starring memorable characters. The game is hard, but that immense difficulty makes surviving to the next chapter all the more satisfying. It's unfortunate that many of those enjoyable moments are overshadowed by glitches and frustrating randomized levels late in the game. Gods Will Be Watching was close to being a must-have puzzler, but it's doubtful that even the gods would have the patience to see it through to the bitter end.