Last week I had the opportunity to play through roughly ninety minutes of The Farm 51’s upcoming first-person shooter-cum-psychological thriller, Get Even, at publisher Bandai Namco’s Sydney-based office. Get Even has been on my radar since its announcement in 2013. Despite its lengthy development cycle, not a whole lot has been shown or is known about the game, but given the narrative’s focus on mystery, it’s not hard to understand why information has been scarce.
To give you a quick primer, you play as Cole Black, who awakens in an abandoned mental asylum with only a smartphone and a handgun. Black has no memory of how he arrived there, only that he failed to save the girl before the explosive device strapped to her detonated. Who the girl was you don’t know, along with why she’s important or why she had said explosives strapped to her. Black must delve into his mind and piece together clues to uncover the truth of the failed rescue mission whilst discovering who he is and who he can trust in his current predicament.
Save the girl, be the hero
The demo began with some backstory that introduced the player to the game’s protagonist Black as he attempts his final mission as a hired gun: saving the girl. Here you get your first taste of the tools at Black’s disposal: a smartphone with a handful of apps (such as a thermal scanner) and a silenced handgun, which has an attachment that allows Black to safely hide behind walls while shooting his adversaries. Black falls into unconsciousness before the mission is complete, and when he awakens in the abandoned Lithurst Mental Asylum, this time he is a patient. His captor, known as ‘Red’, informs Black that he is receiving treatment, and it is here that the game and its mystery truly begins.
From here you are somewhat guided through the asylum by your new friend Red, and are able to explore and take in the asylum’s dilapidated atmosphere. While you’re not quite sure whether Red has your best interests at heart, you reluctantly accept his help. However, it’s not long before you’re rendered unconscious again, and this time when you come to your senses you have been fitted with the Pandora, a VR-like device that allows Black to relive his memories. Red informs you that it’s part of your treatment and you’ve got nothing to worry about, but you know that there’s more to story than what you’re being told.
This would make a crazy Snapchat
The most impressive aspect of this short build was the game’s ramshackle atmosphere and the tension-building music that gradually gathered pace as you progressed through the asylum
As you continue following Red’s instructions you’re given a taste of how Black’s smartphone will be used to assist in solving puzzles throughout the game. One puzzle early doors required Black to use the thermal scanner on his phone to fix a set of blown fuse boxes in order to restore the power. Another time I was required to use the scanner app, with which I could gather evidence and manipulate certain sections of an environment to remove obstacles, which in this case were a set of pipes. While this puzzle-solving system was rather simple, I am interested at how the game’s exploration, story and gameplay all intertwines. You’ll also get to meet other inmates, and you’ll be faced with making a decision whether to set them free or keep them imprisoned, a decision that will have consequences no matter the choice.
Your thermal scanner becomes essential in order to progress
The most impressive aspect of this short build was the game’s ramshackle atmosphere and the tension-building music that gradually gathered pace as you progressed through the asylum. The derelict building emanates malevolence, its dark history scribed in the walls or by the left-behind remnants of previous patients. It’s obvious that The Farm 51 have put a lot of effort into nailing the atmosphere, which from the hands-on it looks like they have done. The visuals were pretty impressive given the game’s tone, however, the build did look a little rough running on a PS4 Pro in some areas, but I’ll reserve final judgement on this aspect until the finished release.
Like any good thriller, Get Even makes you believe that something is always about to happen, even if it isn’t. I was constantly looking behind and around corners to see if I was truly alone, and as the impending apotheosis of my exploration neared, my heart was beating faster than I’d like to admit, and I was completely on edge. The early stages of the hands-on that took place in the asylum felt like an action-inspired Silent Hill.
Are you really alone?
Black is lost, confused, agitated and desperate; why should the player controlling him be any different?
The final third of the hands-on took place inside one of Black’s memories, where the player has to infiltrate a tech company and hack the company’s servers. It’s here the game focused more on its action set-pieces rather than its thriller-inducing atmospheric vibe, and although I enjoyed the change of pace, I hope that game strikes a good balance between its tension building and its all-out action sequences, as I feel game delivered on its promising setting when causing the player to second guess their every step. As a first-person shooter, the mechanics are satisfactory without being anything spectacular, however I only had access to the handgun and an assault rifle during the hands-on.
It’s evident that the game’s story is its centrepiece; the way the story unfolded was movie-esque in a way, and the player’s investigation will be crucial to uncovering the truth. At first, the story felt rather convoluted, keeping you at arm’s length as you jump between the present and reliving memories. However, after a while it was apparent that this was the delivery that The Farm 51 had intended. Black is lost, confused, agitated and desperate; why should the player controlling him be any different?
Re-live memories to discover the truth
Prior to my hands-on I was excited to see what Get Even was all about, and thankfully I can say that after my hands-on I am excited about the potential it has. In my brief my time with the title it blended thriller and action sequences into a gripping experience, not to mention the game’s intriguing and mysterious narrative. It was a shame that I only had the limited build available, as it genuinely left me wanting, and as a result Get Even has become one of my most anticipated titles of the year. I look forward to finding out what’s real when the game releases on May 26, 2017.