After being announced in December of 2013, Polish developer The Farm 51 and Bandai Namco’s psychological thriller-cum-first-person shooter, Get Even, is finally in our hands, despite being delayed last minute out of respect for the recent Manchester terror attack. Thankfully it was worth the wait, as Get Even could well be one of the sleeper hits of the year thanks to its immersive and engrossing premise, excellent sound design, solid voice-acting and brilliant writing.
To give you a quick primer, you play as Cole Black, who awakens in a derelict warehouse. Black has no memory of how he arrived there, only that he’s there to save the girl as a text message on his phone tells him. Unfortunately, Black fails in his efforts to save the girl before the explosive device strapped to her detonates. The next time you’re roused you’re in a dilapidated building – the abandoned Lithurst Mental Asylum – where your captor or saviour (depending on how you look at it) Red has fitted you with the Pandora, a VR-like device that allows Black to relive his memories. Red explains that you voluntarily committed yourself and that within time you’ll discover the answers to the lingering questions you ask. Who was the girl? Why were you there? Who is Red? And most importantly, what is real?
Can you save the girl?
What is this madness?
Indoors may be dark and dreary, but outside can be a sight to behold
Get Even is linear in nature, with Red dictating where you are to go – both in the Lithurst Asylum and inside Black’s memories. However, despite Red’s apparent good intentions, you feel like you’re never fully able to trust him and that he’s deliberately keeping you at arm’s length as you jump between the present and reliving memories. Furthermore, as you discover more about yourself, you start to question whether your own motives are as righteous as you would have hoped to believe.
One of the first things players will take in is how integral the game’s atmosphere and sound design are in creating some incredibly tense and immersive moments. Things like poking around a decrepit building or dimly lit warehouse are always punctuated by a soundscape that slowly rises in intensity and really gets the heart rate going. The audio also hopes to instil a sense of near-constant trepidation, and like any good thriller, I was never 100% sure what was waiting around and the next corner. A lot of the game follows this formula and it is even more prevalent when exploring the derelict Lithurst Asylum and Black’s memories. At several points the audio sequences descend into unrelenting manic bedlam, reinforcing the instability of Black’s memories and his deteriorated mental state.
Visually the game does an exceptionally apt job of evoking a desolate and disturbed vibe, with its ramshackle buildings defaced by graffiti and various signs of the oppression of the past and present. There are instances where the game does look genuinely impressive, however don’t expect the visuals to be on par with games such as The Order: 1886, as several textures up close look a little rough around the edges. The game is also well optimised, and playing on the PS4 Pro I didn’t notice any major performance issues.
The audio also hopes to instil a sense of near-constant trepidation, and like any good thriller, I was never 100% sure what was waiting around and the next corner
Black’s time is spent between the present in the asylum and inside his memories. The memories will have you reliving moments in the lead up to the girl’s kidnapping, such as infiltrating defence technology facilities, investigating murder scenes and learning about the story’s other main characters, Rose and Jasper. Each memory will reveal more pieces of the puzzle, and it’s up to you to connect the dots and discover who played what role in the kidnapping. One of Get Even’s strengths is that it doesn’t keep you in the same place (memory) for longer than you need to be there. This helps keep a consistent pacing throughout the roughly eight-hour campaign (it can easily be completed within six hours should you wish not to find every bit of evidence). I rarely – if ever – in my first playthrough had moments where I felt forced to complete sequences of the story.
Exploring the asylum will see you come into contact with some of the eclectic patients, most of whom are criminals of some sort. All of the inpatients have seemingly lost their marbles, and interacting with these characters will expose you to just how far gone some of them are. You are also given the opportunity to make choices along the way; do you leave a patient locked up or do you set him free? While these do not affect the overarching story, they will have consequences one way or another (such as varying evidence being findable in a given playthrough). The Mad Hatter is one of the asylum’s more colourful characters, regularly appearing nattering riddles and balderdash.
Despite being somewhat convoluted at first, I was continually captivated by Get Even’s story, which is largely thanks to the excellent voice-acting and well-written exchanges between Black and Red (Black actually sounds like he’s being voiced by Sean Bean which is a boon too). It is a story of deliverance, and the more I discovered the more I wanted to know. Even more satisfying is the game’s ending, which thankfully wasn’t as predictable as we’ve come to expect from story-driven games over the past few years, thanks to a couple of clever twists and turns along the way. There are a handful of poignant moments scattered throughout the game too, and in general it’s an emotionally engaging experience, which helps carry the action.
Thanks for the memories
“Well. The entire world is falling to ruins and poor Cheshire’s off his tea.”
It is a story of deliverance, and the more I discovered the more I wanted to know
The game’s mechanics aren’t overly complex and you’ll get the hang of how exploration works fairly quickly. Black’s primary tool is his smartphone, which includes several apps that Black will need to utilise at certain points during exploration. The main app that you will use is the scanner app, which allows Black to scan highlighted areas for evidence (you’ll be notified when there’s evidence close to you). The phone’s OS will analyse the evidence and inform Black of the results – i.e. whose blood or fingerprints are on a particular surface. As you progress you will find that there will be numerous evidence items or areas that can be scanned, which can make it a little mundane towards the end. However, most of these items and the documents scattered around the environment (such as medical reports, letters and emails) give another layer of insight to the game’s backstory, and I devoured all of these morsels of information as I was genuinely compelled to know as much as possible.
The scanner app also allows Black to activate anomalies in the world, such as making a parked car appear to block the vision of a patrolling guard or removing a vent cover so Black can sneak through an alternate route. Other apps include a map, a thermal scanner and a UV light – all of which are crucial in your exploration at various stages in the game.
The walls speak
While players can engage in gunplay, it largely plays second fiddle to the game’s other elements. Black is often encouraged by Red to take the stealth approach when infiltrating an area within his memory. However, there are times where you’ll need to pull the trigger, and for the most part the gunplay is satisfactory and does its job. The most useful piece of equipment is the corner gun, a tool that allows players to see around a corner and shoot whilst still protected by cover, a tactic that is a massive boon for players using a stealth approach. There are also additional weapons you can unlock by discovering secret areas within a memory.
Half camcorder, half gun
Narrative-driven games are my thing; I love getting lost and emotionally invested in a game’s world and story to the point where I simply can’t put the controller down. It’s very rare that games elicit that sort of reaction from me, however, The Farm 51 have done that with Get Even. I cannot stress enough how immersive the atmosphere and sound design are, I was compelled from start to finish. It is a must-play game if you’re a fan of narrative-driven experiences.
Reviewed on PS4 Pro