Xbox One, PS4, PC
June 23, 2017
Bandai Namco Entertainment
The Farm 51
You try to get a feel for your environment. There is shrubbery, some buildings and some threatening guard types with guns. You’re uncertain as to where you are and where you’re going, but you progress forward anyway, the unknown in front of you. A text message on your phone is obscure but references a girl that needs saving. You quickly figure out that you can analyse your surroundings and move inside, with some semblance of a mission now on your mind.
You finally find her. A teenage girl, tied to a chair, crying, a bomb strapped to her chest. She gives you what she thinks is the code to disarm it, but your decision here is the first of many hard decisions you’ll have to make. Your world cuts to black.
You wake up inside what looks like an abandoned asylum. How did you get here? What happened to the girl? Who are you and what the hell is going on?
Get Even doesn’t waste time in triggering thoughts of confusion, fear and curiosity, right from its opening moments. You play as Cole Black, a VR-like headset on your head and an ominous character that is seemingly always watching over you, trying to piece together your past one memory at a time. The aim is to figure out what exactly happened in that opening scene, and like most of your experience with this game, things are never as simple as they appear to be.
To delve into the story any further is to spoil a narrative that is full of twists, turns and reveals, as you move from memory to memory, investigating your environment, solving puzzles and surviving the occasional shoot-out with enemies. You’re reminded a few times that the choices you make will have a direct impact on the story, but it never slows down or feels like you’re approaching a pivotal moment. These choices range from how much conflict you cause in a stealth area (having long term consequences) to more clear reactions such as freeing a fellow patient in the asylum and seeing if that helps or hinders you.
Get Even rarely pegs itself into one genre for too long. It darts between crime scene investigation and shooter, also bouncing between survival horror and walking simulation reminiscent of Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture. It means you’re never settled into doing one thing for too long, but it also means that there are some mechanics that are far less successful than others.
The shooting sections in particular feel stiff and clunky, and far too unforgiving if you are getting shot at. Despite some inventive and fun weapons (the aptly-named CornerGun, for example, is well executed and satisfying), it seems like the game favours a stealth approach, considering you essentially get told off for shooting enemies and rushing in guns blazing often results in a quick death.
Visually, it’s not the strongest, with the intentional decision to have most areas incredibly dark, requiring the UV light on your phone to properly navigate them. Given the realistic style of the environments, the lack of quality here is the first indication that Get Even has not been made with a particularly large budget. There were also frustrating moments where I got stuck in the environment forcing me to reload my game, and one checkpoint that seemingly failed, resulting in me replaying around 20 minutes of a section that I’d already completed.
“…dilapidated halls with messages scratched into the walls in true madness.”
You’ll find lots of evidence throughout the game that will assist you in figuring out the complex narrative, and this is cleverly kept in a giant virtual filing cabinet that you can wander around in, seeing how things are connected. It’s a cool way of housing all of the documents you’ve found, much slicker than it being buried in a menu somewhere. I also liked the dream-like state of some memories and the way that objects sometimes appeared or disappeared in front of you as if they are formed based on the coding in your mind.
It’s the soundtrack that stands out as a real winner though, creating high amounts of tension when there would normally be none, with thumping bass and loud sound effects consistently keeping you on edge. So much of the story is told via audio, and care has been taken to ensure it’s all of a good quality, including the voice acting. The haunting sounds of the asylum stand out, with patients talking to themselves, chanting or even singing creepy melodies to ensure that you’re never comfortable as you roam the dilapidated halls with messages scratched into the walls in true madness.
- Twisted, engaging narrative
- Soundtrack is effective and jarring
- Interesting blend of genres
- Shooting gameplay stumbles
- Getting stuck in the environment
- Muddy visuals
I’m not sure what to make of Get Even after my playthrough, other than the fact that I’m definitely still thinking about it. A total mish-mash of genres and a storyline that feels jumbled together right up until it eventually doesn’t, it intrigued me, shocked me, scared me and confused me, ultimately keeping me in line with the games protagonist who knows nothing more than we do and learns at the same pace as us, the audience. It’s a unique experiment in story-telling, for certain; that alone doesn’t make it a triumph, but much like the mystery of the narrative itself, it sure does make it worth investigating.