Get Even is the latest game from Polish developer The Farm 51 and is pitched as a first person psychological thriller. I was lucky enough to play the game for two hours and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s one part FPS, one part walking simulator, and one part psychological thriller; think Wolfenstein: The New Order meets Gone Home meets Shutter Island.
Here are my thoughts on the game and what it could do for the wider genre. I won’t get into any spoilers past the first 30 minutes of the game as a lot of it needs to be experienced first-hand for maximum impact.
This is a trippy game – in all the right ways. It opens with the playable character, Cole Black, waking up alone in an abandoned warehouse with only a phone and his gun. You receive a text message telling you to ‘save the girl’ and throughout the short introduction you’re tasking with finding said girl. There’s an air of suspense and nervousness as you tentatively take your first steps in this world thanks to the sound and visuals thrown at you. You trace the girl using your multi-functional phone which can scan evidence for clues, allow you to follow blood trails with the UV light and give you a map of the area in the palm of your hand.
After finding the girl things go a little off key and you wake up trapped in a large overgrown courtyard to a text directing you to the decrepit building in front of you. A few moments (and scans) into the building and you realise you’re in a disused mental asylum – cue creepy, unnerving suspense. The beds, rooms full of wheelchairs and twisty corridors only add to the tension. Without going into too much detail, you discover that your time in the asylum, and your ‘Pandora’ headset will coach you through your past in an effort to remember what happened on the day you found the girl.
A couple of gameplay mechanics really jumped out at me. As in most modern games, you make decisions throughout the course of Get Even. But the difference in this game is that you’re not fully aware when you get these choices. There’s no dialogue option that means you pick one side or the other in an argument, in most cases you won’t even know you’ve made a decision until you see the consequences of that decision later in the game. I came to this realisation in quite a shocking way and I hope there are more scenarios like this over the course of the game.
The puzzles also surprised me. I think because it felt more like a FPS than a puzzly walking simulator I was shocked to see some puzzles incorporated. While I don’t think these puzzles will give anyone too much trouble, at least one of the puzzles took me a little while to solve and I had that ‘mini punch the air’ moment when I figured it out. They were also a welcome change of pace as I felt like I could stop and catch my breath when I was stood still thinking of the solution.
The writing of the game seems top notch. I’m not sure if writers Stephen Long and Iain Sharkey have previous gaming writing credits to their name but if not it doesn’t show in the writing I saw. It’s polished, considered and only helps with the player’s immersion in the game. I found myself saying “what the fuck is going on” at almost the exact same time as Black at one point, showing that they know how their audience will react. If their previous work on UK illusionist Derren Brown’s shows is anything to go by then I only see the writing getting better as the game moves on.
Surprisingly, despite the humble origins of Get Even, it looks like a triple A game. A lot of the environments within the game were created through unique 3D-scanning technology which gives the locations a gritty, realistic feel. From the graffiti littering the walls of the warehouse, to the cracked floorboards and walls in the old asylum, it’s easy to feel like it’s you in the room, not Black. The lighting and shadows have been well laid over these environments to provide a really slick set of rooms and buildings for the player to roam through.
The music was, for me, the best part of my time with Get Even. When things are supposed to be stressful and tense, the music and sound effects punctuate every heartbeat resulting in the hairs on your arms standing to attention. When things are calmer and you’re given rare glimpses into Black’s past, you’re treated to stirring and mournful instrumentals that bring the whole thing to life, courtesy of the Brussels Philharmonic. This is apparently the first game to feature Auro 3D sound (a way of preserving the acoustics at the time of recording) and I can see it catching on if this is the result.
Get Even will be available Friday 26 May on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC.