By Ashley Ring / October 19th, 2016
|Release Date||September 14, 2016|
Narrative exploration games seem to be rising in popularity lately. Games where fighting enemies or even having any real threat to your life at all are not part of the game’s design. Instead, this genre focuses on story, atmosphere and exploration, three things I value a lot. Surprisingly, I’ve never actually played through a game like this before, until now that is. After checking out some trailers for Event, it seemed like the kind of game I might enjoy, since it’s set on a deserted spaceship in the middle of outer space. Now that I’ve played through Event, was it a good introduction to this genre and, more importantly, was it a good game?
As soon as the game’s intro started playing, I was immediately intrigued. The intro starts off with what feels like an old school text adventure, giving you a background of outer space and some text. As you read through the text, it starts to become more interactive. It starts off asking you what your preference is regarding how you like to be referred to. After that, it starts to give you more context on the story and asking how you would react in certain situations, like if you pursued your goals because you wanted to better your life, or just to fit in and be a part of something bigger than you. It’s a very interesting way to start the game, and it definitely got me more interested to play the rest of the game. It is unclear if any of your answers change the shape of the rest of the game, other than the way you are referred to. Even so, I felt the intro was very well done and drew me into the story.
After having to evacuate your spaceship for reasons unknown, you make your way to the escape pods, separated from everyone else that was on your ship. After being alone in space, you eventually drift towards an old spaceship that had been abandoned for years and take refuge there. This is where Event really starts. As you step out of the escape pod and into the ship, you are greeted by the ship’s AI computer, Kaizen. Your relationship with Kaizen will start with him asking what your name is. This is where the most interesting aspect of Event comes into play. You’ll spend most of your time in Event communicating with Kaizen. The twist is, you actually communicate with the ship’s AI with your keyboard. Just about everything you’ll need to do is accomplished by asking Kaizen questions, having small talk with him, and even asking him to do things for you like open doors, show event logs stored in each room’s computers, and even solve puzzles. I really liked this, as I’ve never played a game where you actually get to communicate with the AI in such a direct and specific manner.
Speaking with Kaizen is the only way you’ll learn what to do next, and the only way you’ll get any backstory as to what went on in this spaceship. There is at least one terminal in each room and each one has its own set of log files to read. Reading all of the logs stored on each individual terminal will give insight to conversations and events that happened in the room you’re currently in. The overall story of the game isn’t as interesting as the core mechanic of talking to Kaizen, or even the atmosphere. It is interesting enough to keep you interested in the game world, as well as adding a level of depth to the games setting.Story is not the only thing you will get from reading the logs at each Kaizen terminal. Each time you come to a road block in the game, you’ll generally find a clue to a puzzle in each terminal that needs to be solved in order to progress. The puzzles are fairly basic, and thanks to a display that comes up on every terminal which displays all puzzle clues you have found, you’ll always have a reference to help solve them. After reading the logs you’ll be given a command as well as a file name to then enter on a Kaizen terminal. The first puzzle you’ll have to solve is given through some post-it notes scattered around a terminal, telling you to look for a certain set of pictures in a log file. Once you’re in the log file, you’ll just need to type on your keyboard to start displaying a bunch of random pictures, but the ultimate goal is to find four pictures that create an image of the human eye to proceed. You’ll likely never be stumped for long with the puzzles, but solving them does require a slight bit of thought and feels satisfying when you do.
Other than communicating with Kaizen, what you’ll be doing most in this game is walking around the abandoned spaceship, exploring and soaking in the atmosphere. The default control scheme for exploring is odd, only utilizing the mouse. Pressing and holding the left button on your mouse will move you forward, and the right button will move you backwards. This control scheme is very awkward and, thankfully, you can change it to a more traditional mouse and keyboard scheme.
The spaceship itself is not very big, with a rather small number of rooms to explore. Despite having very few rooms to explore, each room has a nice level of detail and a story to tell. The state of each room, as well as all of the belongings you can examine, can help give you a better idea of just what happened on this ship. Unfortunately, the number of objects you can examine is fairly limited and the descriptions of each don’t give as much insight as I would have liked. It still offers a nice amount of depth for each room, which I’m always appreciative of. When you combine all the detail in each room with all of the conversation logs you can read on each Kaizen terminal, the ship really does feel lived in and well developed.
The best moments of exploration in Event definitely had to be just the fact that it takes place in outer space. Many of the rooms you’ll explore have windows that give you a view of space, and it looks fantastic. There is even a moment where you’re forced to go out into space. This part of the game was very tense to me, as you do have an oxygen meter and, if it runs out, it’s game over. Thankfully the amount of time you’re given is very generous, but it still felt unnerving to me nonetheless. During this scenario, when you talk to Kaizen on one of the terminals outside of the ship, he won’t believe that you are you. You’ll need to converse with him and convince him that you are who you say you are, all while the clock on your oxygen meter is ticking. This made for a really awesome moment that gave me a great sense of urgency.
Event as a whole is an interesting experience. The fact that most of the game is spent actually conversing with an AI is enough of a reason for me to recommend this game to anyone who enjoys narrative-driven games. The game underneath it might not be as interesting as the AI himself, but it still manages to be an enjoyable experience overall, with some great and detailed atmosphere. The experience likely won’t last you more than 3 hours, and I felt the novelty of talking to Kaizen is only fun and interesting for one playthrough, though there are multiple endings to get. I feel the asking price of $19.99 makes it a bit difficult to recommend, but if you can grab it on sale, it’s definitely worth experiencing at least once.
Review copy provided by the publisher.