Storytelling has come a long way in games, and as such they become more reflective of the real world. So it’s no surprise that Get Even, which tells a sci-fi story around terrorist events, was delayed due to a recent real-world tragedy. This may lead one to think that Get Even is a shooter where you are going after the bad guys. Instead it twists the genre for a more dark and warped story.
Get Even tells the story of Cole Black who, after a terror attack, awakes to find himself hazy and unsure of what is going on. A text from Red telling him to go to a mental hospital finds the door slamming behind him. This it turns out is the virtual reality world manifested by the Pandora, a headset that can infiltrate the mind, allowing it to visit memories, and for Cole’s subconscious to subtly manipulate the environment. Using the Pandora, Cole must search his memories, from the stealing of a corner gun – which is a gun that shoots around corners – to a tragic event, to help find truth of what happened.
The game switches between three states. The first is set in a decrepit mental asylum where collected evidence manifests, and is populated by inmates who can be passive or violent. The second consists of specific memories that Cole must visit to discover, or rediscover the truth, where you must get from the start to finish, and tend to be filled with security. The third contains creepy manifestations where Cole walks through a void on paths being built before him, visiting memories that play out before his eyes. These three different states shift regularly, which stops the game from getting stale.
From the puzzle-laden hospital, to the more action heavy memories, to the narrative-filled void, they all make for significant gameplay and tonal shifts. Unfortunately, despite their variety in setting, the colour scheme mostly tends to be greys, blues and browns. This is likely to help the dark setting and tone, but this could have been achieved in a less cliché way.
Speaking of tone, the superstar of the game is the sound and music. The whole game leans significantly on the music and it does a great job of supporting it. Tunes change regularly from soft orchestras, to uneasy pop songs. The way it fades in and out based on where you’re moving is used to guide you, and make you uneasy.
Despite the passable voice acting, the other sound effects are standout in how they build tension. When Cole is close to an enemy the audio softens up; his breathing gets heavier in your ears. At some important narrative moments, clock ticks become slower and louder as you move towards the event. It’s hard to describe how uneasy the last loud tick felt each time as it built up for something you knew wasn’t going to be sunshine.
The best part is the pacing. Throughout the game, especially in the mental hospital, there is the feeling that something is going to jump out at you. It rarely did, which almost made it worse as it would lull you into a false sense of security, akin to someone pretending to hit you in the face; just as you have the courage to keep your eyes open, they sock it to you.
Although it's a first-person shooter, and your character is regularly armed, the game encourages you to not use violence, which is good as the shooting mechanics are functional, but not great. Throughout memories Red highly encourages that you don’t shoot anyone as it may have ramifications to the state of the memory’s stability, and will speak into your ear with disdain if you kill a lot of security. Instead the bulk of the time is spent looking at your phone and its many applications, from an evidence scanner, to an infrared camera, to a real-time map. These are mostly used for puzzle solving, and occasional narrative moments via texts, but the apps do have their quirks.
The evidence scanner for example will vibrate as you get near points of interest, and will present four green corners around what you need to scan. To get that evidence you must line up the four white corners of the scanner, and it must be spot on. One millimetre off and it will find no evidence. The scanner is also used to create objects in specific locations, like boxes for cover. This doesn’t require the same level of accuracy, which would have been better for evidence gathering instead of the unnecessary faff it presents.
Then on top of that are issues with the real-time map. The enemies have vision cones, but several times when significantly out of the range, they could see me. I’m unsure if this was intentional or a bug, but it could needlessly transform stealth sections into a shooter.
Then there were technical bugs, such as being immobilised, often resulting in a reload. Regularly there would be gaps in the environment too; big white squares or thin green gaps would appear in joints, which is unfortunate in a game relying heavily on atmosphere.
Despite its flaws, Get Even is still a very worthwhile experience. The game’s narrative is a little predictable, but it’s told well. It builds tension unlike anything else, and uses jump scares sparingly to give maximum effect. It’s a great game, with unfortunate quirks holding it back – which will hopefully get patched out.
Blair received a physical copy of Get Even from Bandai Namco for review.