By Fabrice Stellaire / July 21st, 2017
|Developer||The Farm 51|
|Release Date||June 25th, 2017|
Virtual reality’s potential is incredible, but right now, its potential is far from being fully exploited. But what if virtual reality allowed us to explore human memories? Get Even explores that possibility in a thrilling psychological adventure.
You’re tasked with rescuing a kidnapped girl held in a sort of warehouse. After quickly neutralizing the guards, you approach her, try to remove the bomb and… suddenly wake up in an asylum. This is where everything begins. You quickly meet a mysterious man called Red, apparently ruling over the asylum, who is going to help you explore memories about the kidnapping. All this is possible thanks to a strange VR device. It is first important to note that the atmosphere is heavy and oppressive. You quickly understand that you are venturing into a dark adventure filled with strange but persistent noises and music whose main purpose is to build up the tension. Your character, Black, appears to be a mercenary, and is equipped with a strange smartphone that allows him to analyse the environment and look for clues.
The smartphone can detect blood, fingerprints, and elements related to your investigation, but also serves as a radar telling you where enemies are and it detects heat sources. You will quickly learn to look for any clues and will have the opportunity to go back to previously completed levels in order to look for elements you may have forgotten. Exploring Black’s memories is like completing a very complex puzzle, and what may look obvious can sometimes be deceptive. The story constantly maintains the suspense and few games create such a good atmosphere. The music plays a key part in that, and keeps reflecting what the characters feel; tension, fear and stress, but also love, innocence, and sadness.
The madness surrounding the asylum, the feelings experienced by the characters and the constant sense of tragedy keep shaping what we could consider a masterpiece of its own. Memory, a central theme in the game, does not always reveal the truth, and can hide elements we do not want, or should not want, to remember. The game is also a story about greed and the illusion that we can get everything (like wealth, family and success) without sacrificing anything. Black and Red are playing a mind game that they do not control, and the “Puppet Master” mentioned inside the asylum might not be who you expect. It is important to note that the game plays with our sense of morality, and that the line between guilt and innocence is not clearly drawn.
Interestingly, a lot of the names given to the the characters are about light and darkness. Grace is the name of the kidnapped girl. Lenora, the mother’s name, can mean compassion in Greek, or “God is my light” in Arabic. The first name of the man who created the VR helmet, Robert Ramsey, might mean “shining glory” in the German language, and this theme is central in the past of the character. I kept having the feeling that the story was thoroughly planned and that everything served a purpose, something that is not true about every game. But nothing is perfect and while Get Even shines through with its story and writing, its gameplay can sometimes be lacking.
Get Even‘s weaknesses mainly revolve around the combat and stealth sequences. Your character can try to avoid fights or face enemies directly by taking advantage of the corner gun, a weapon that allows him to shoot enemies while remaining fully covered behind a wall. The problem is that those fights feel lacking and dull, and the stealth gameplay is not really elaborated upon. You do not have many tools to create diversions to distract the enemy; you cannot throw a stone, whistle, or use any smoke bombs. It sometimes looks like successful infiltration involves too much luck. With time, you will learn the patterns of mercenaries you meet, but that does not make the stealth gameplay really enjoyable.
It is important to note that killing enemies or sparing them will have consequences on the story, and will directly impact the ending. The game warns you explicitly about this early on. Despite the few gameplay issues I have mentioned, I would say that the quality of the story, the weight of the tragedy, and the writing encouraged me to overlook them. I also had to deal with a few technical issues, which makes me think the game still needs to be optimized and patched.
One of the main issues I had while playing is that your character can get stuck in the background. Since there is no manual save system, the only solution if you find yourself where you cannot move at all is to load the latest checkpoint. I also had to deal with some screen tearing. I could fix it by disabling vertical synchronization, but this caused my GPU to heat up and I finally decided to deal with the screen tearing. The game does not always tolerate Alt-Tabbing very well, something I did sometimes to look for information about the game, so you may face some crashes if you do this too often. Another weird issue happened around the end of the game, as the up button suddenly stopped working for no reason. Unable to move forward, I had to manually reconfigure the up key and it fixed the problem. I would say that the game would need a patch to fix these issues and maybe optimize performance.
Despite its technical flaws, Get Even remains a masterpiece of psychological horror. It took me about 60 hours to complete it. You may spend more time on it if you want to complete all memories and explore all the alternate endings. Sold at the price of $29.99, Get Even is one of the best horror games of the year.
Review copy provided by the publisher.
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