Thursday, June 9, 2011

Psychic Detective

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Psychic Detective
Developer - EA Studios
Publisher - Electronic Arts
Release date - March 1, 1996

Psychic Detective is a 1995 interactive movie video game that uses extensive amounts of live-action footage and features dozens of professional character actors. It was written by Michael Kaplan and directed by John Sanborn.


The game is set in San Francisco where the player assumes the role of Eric Fox (Kevin Breznahan), a psychic who earns his living doing a magic act in a seedy nightclub. One night, he is approached by the exotic Laina Pozok (Beata Pozniak), who senses that Eric is more powerful than he imagines. She trains Eric to "hitch hike" into people's minds. He sees what his subject sees, and hears what his subject hears; meanwhile, his body continues to interact with the world around him in an "automatic pilot-like" state. Laina hires Eric to attend a wake being held in honor of her father, who has died under mysterious circumstances.

The game begins when Eric enters the Pozok household, and is given the choice to remain in his body, or hitch hike aboard any one of a number of characters he encounters. Eric also has the ability to pick up objects and take a psychic reading of them, providing more clues to help solve the Pozok murder case. Before long, Eric is embroiled in a conspiracy involving a powerful religious cult, spies, and family intrigue, and he also has to deal with his growing romantic attachment to Laina. Occasionally throughout the game, Eric obtains access to "psychic collectors" which amplify his abilities and allow him to affect the moods and attitudes of the people around him, but at a cost.


Psychic Detective is generally presented in first person (except during cut scenes), with icons appearing at intervals on the screen signifying people and objects Eric can interact with. Each game generally takes about 45 minutes to play, however multiple plays are required in order to uncover all aspects of the storyline, and there are a dozen alternate endings possible; depending upon the choices made by the player, many different storylines are uncovered, including one that occurs if the player makes no choices and simply watches events unfold. Occasional cut scenes timed to occur at certain points break the storyline into chapters, but which cut scene is viewed depends upon Eric's actions. The endgame portion of Psychic Detective breaks from the linear narrative and involves Eric playing a surreal board game against the villain.


Psychic Detective was the brainchild of producer Jim Simmons, but the project ultimately involved nearly 200 people: 21 game developers at EA Studios, 80 crew members, and 95 actors. The filming of the video sequences was handled by Colossal Pictures. The footage was shot on location in San Francisco and Oakland, California over roughly six weeks.
The game was released on the PC, PlayStation and 3DO. The game includes adult language and sexual content in the PC and 3DO versions, which was censored from the PlayStation version.

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