There are a few things I’ve learned from my time with Psych Yourself. The first is that not every trailer requires dubstep. The second is that actual psych tests do not a game make. Sure, the results can be enlightening, and the tests themselves intriguing, but in the end, to anyone besides a psych major or maybe Temperance Brennan, it’s nothing more then a diversion.
Psych Yourself will attempt to convince you otherwise, and it does a decent job, with an interface that is simple to manage, and easy to explore. Its main attractions are three self tests, covering creativity, emotion (actual emotion, not David Cage Pixel-motion), and perception, with each of those split into three themed mini-tests.
Available once per day, these tests are designed, scientifically at that, to give you a glimpse into how you perceive the world. Creativity tests, like Social Stereotype, present you with pictures of various professional garb on a blacked out mannequin, and then ask you to determine whether the person holding the job is smart, weak, strong, brave, or unkind. The Emotion tests reminded me of the show Lie to Me, with pictures/gifs of people “emoting” flashing by as it asks what I think they’re feeling.
Much like a Rorschach test, you’re supposed to follow your instincts, letting them guide you to what you think is the correct answer quickly and without regret. For some tests, this is easy, as the “game” presents you with a brief tutorial, giving the rules of the test you are about to take before initiating the timed exam. For others, like the facial emotion test, where there is a “correct” answer, I found it quite difficult, as I wanted to sit and study the faces for the correct emotion, and I often found myself hurried as I raced against a clock.
The faces portion also suffers from being almost unbearably long. Each test only takes a few minutes to complete, but the emotion tests, filled with moving faces, seemed both awkward and overly lengthy, to the point of being uncomfortable.
Once finished with the tests, Psych Yourself delivers your results in the manner of a generalized, pre-constructed response. It reminded me of a cold read, or the kind of glaringly general information parsed from a book about birthdays or numerology, telling you what your personality should be like based on nothing more then the answers provided.
As a one off quick look as it were, the read-throughs are entertaining fluff, filled with the kind of easy-on-the-mind, quick-to-latch-on-to language that’s simple to parse, digest, and understand. “You only need a couple of moments to tell if a companion is angry and not t0o happy, or interested and not proud.” Sure that sounds like me. “We would hesitate to sit down and play poker with you!” I wouldn’t. I am actually a pretty poor gambler, as I tend to place far to much on the chance something will happen rather then try to figure out the actual numbers behind why it won’t.
It’s in these answers that the game portion of Psych Yourself starts to unravel. These snippets of intended psycho-analysis are meant to describe you, and they’re told in such a way that develops, as best as a mechanical thing that measures empirical data can, a picture of you that is accurate and complete.
So when Psych Yourself presents you with a training mode to practice these tests, it changes what appeared to be a personality profile into nothing more then a series of tests you can study for, thereby erasing any real semblance of self from the preceding psycho-graphs. Add to this a library of scientific texts set up like web pages to help you get to the right answer and this quickly turns from a game into intro college course. Sure it’s optional, but at this point, you paid money for a “game” that was advertised like this and not for a crash course through Psych 101.
Psych Yourself also offers some social features, adding a simple test that allows you to analyze yourself and your friend friends. In a move reminiscent of every Facebook game ever created, you are encouraged to send messages to the friends you’ve analyzed, letting them know through the PS3′s message system that you’ve judged them and would like the to purchase Psych Yourself so they can see what you said, and then summarily judge you as well.
Am I being a little bit harsh? Probably. But when you’re based off of 2011′s Test Yourself: Psycology series, which measured things that were actually measurable rather then basing empirical data off of some very subjective ideas, I think a little harsh talk is in order. Claiming to let people in on their own psyche, while simultaneously offering a path, and trophies, based around changing those results, is off-putting at best. At worst, it’s just downright dumb.
For $6.99, Psych Yourself doesn’t ask for much, and it doesn’t give a whole lot in return either. For someone interested in the science behind things like perception and emotion, it could be a useful tool, if you are willing to dig into the provided library and spend time putting those words into action. For most though, it’s worth a look about as much as those huge birthday predictor omnibuses seen on the shelf of your local Barnes and Noble. It’s fun to flip through, but not nearly entertaining or worthwhile enough to buy.