|Platforms||PC (reviewed), PS4, XBO|
|Developer||The Farm 51|
|Publisher||Bandai Namco Entertainment|
|Release Date||June 20, 2017|
Get Even is a mind-bending blend of survival horror, first-person shooting and stealth, all wrapped up in a twisted, crazy narrative. Players take the role of Cole Black, an amnesiac inmate at an insane asylum that is wearing a headset allowing him to relive his memories. Guided by the mysterious Red he needs to explore the asylum and his fragmented memories to find the truth behind the only thing he can remember – the botched rescue of a young girl with a bomb strapped to her chest.
Get Even is simultaneously completely nuts and frustratingly pedestrian. At its best the game is a taught thriller with a compelling narrative that traps you in an insane asylum where it feels like anything can and will happen at any given moment. Then there’s the other stuff. Get Even flounders when it leaves the asylum – exploring Black’s memories through tired, clunky first-person stealth shooter mechanics and rudimentary puzzles.
The story itself is brilliant. Obviously I can’t go into too much depth about why that is – but it pays the initial setup off really well. It’s designed from the very beginning to be confusing. Though the plot twists and red herrings can get a bit much, this is an effective tale of regret. The opening, which sees you attempting to rescue the aforementioned girl from terrorists, propels you into an expertly crafted thriller with a few surprises up its sleeve.
Choices play a role in how the story shakes out. You’re greeted with choices as you make your way through the asylum, such as whether or not to free a fellow inmate, and those choices will have an impact somewhere down the line, oftentimes in ways you won’t expect. You’re never given the option to blow up the game’s narrative, Get Even’s choices only make smaller impacts on Black’s character or the story as a whole.
This actually works well in the game’s favour – allowing you to make impactful decisions while allowing Get Even the space to tell its own story. Where these choices have a negative effect on the game is in Get Even’s laborious core gameplay. Exploring the asylum is the game’s better half. This location drips with atmosphere, aided by some great level design, a stunningly great soundtrack and some well designed moments.
Exploring Black’s memories, though, is the opposite. These sections take the form of a first-person shooter or first-person stealth game (depending on how you play). Fairly quickly you’ll be given the corner gun – a gun that can be snapped in half to aim and shoot around corners. It also ties into most of Black’s smartphone apps that, among other things, shows enemies and their cones of vision on a map.
Trying to play stealthily, which is the option that Get Even would very much prefer you take, is a chore. The stealth mechanics are very rudimentary. You’ll end up spending your time navigating as a little white dot on a tiny in-game screen, dodging the red dots and their massive red cones, as opposed to playing the game in first-person. It takes something that isn’t all that fun and, well, keeps it that way I suppose.
This is how Get Even wants you to play. Red will constantly tell you off if you decide to start killing people. And it’s one extreme or the other – even sneaking up on an enemy and taking them down is lethal. If you’re spotted by one guard then every enemy in the vicinity will have a constant lock on your position. Regardless of whether you move without them seeing or kill him before he has a chance to shout a warning – they always know where you are.
Gunplay in Get Even can be best described as functional. There’s nothing particularly noteworthy or standout about it. It probably exists for people like me – those who get tired of the poor stealth mechanics and just want to quickly get back to the excellent asylum sections. Walk into a room, shoot everyone and save myself ten minutes (which would probably have ended in a shootout anyway).
The trouble is this impacts the choice-based narrative. Killing people in Black’s memories will cause characters to see him in a different light. But I wasn’t making the decision to kill everyone in the flashbacks for roleplaying or narrative reasons – I was doing it because the stealth mechanics in Get Even are so frustratingly dull and drawn out that shooting my way through levels was probably the only way I was going to make it through the game at all.
There are also some very basic puzzles to solve. They’re nothing that will trouble your cognitive reasoning too much – turn some pipes to stop a jet of steam, follow some wires. Black’s smartphone comes equipped with all of the apps and gadgets necessary to make solving puzzles super easy. If more had been done with these gadgets (there’s a UV light, heat sensitive camera, torch and more) it could have been a really cool twist on more traditional puzzle solving. But it’s rudimentary at best.
The reason this is so frustrating is because there are things that Get Even nails. The sound design is exceptional. The game features an expertly crafted ambience and soundtrack that deeply immerses you in the experience. The story is actually really interesting, proving that there are still interesting stories to be told about stereotypical video game protagonists. It’s confusing and messy in all the ways it’s supposed to be and nails the landing.
If Get Even had focused on its excellently macabre asylum, or pushed aside some of its more dull gameplay elements, we’d be talking about a fantastic experience. But the game constantly pulls you away from what makes it interesting to sit through yet another dull shooting gallery. Get Even is certainly different enough from the norm to warrant your attention – there is an experience worth having here. But that experience comes with a fair few caveats.
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