Did you know that one of my all time favourite games is Deadly Premonition? An utterly insane story of murder and supernatural obsession wrapped up in a buggy, ugly, sloppily made game. But in spite of all that I loved it. The story was brilliant, the characters were simultaneously tragic and hilarious, and the world had so much to find. It was as though Swery65 watched Twin Peaks, then played GTA and decided to glue them together without understanding how GTA‘s gameplay worked. But still it was a wonderful experience and one that I remember to this day. It’s also, to my mind, evidence that sometimes a well crafted story, told in an interesting way by well written characters can overcome a game’s mechanical shortcomings. And here we have Get Even.
Get Even feels as though someone watched Inception, then played Call of Duty and decided to glue them together without understanding how Call of Duty‘s gameplay worked. And whilst I don’t think it’s something that will stay with me as long as Deadly Premonition has, it’s another game in which its story manages to overcome those mechanical failings. It plays part FPS, part Walking Simulator with influences in Condemned and tells the story of Cole Black (good choice of name their, guys) as he awakens in a seemingly abandoned mental asylum.
I’m going to keep it light on story elements, but the game opens with Cole attempting to rescue a kidnapped girl with a bomb strapped to her. We are introduced to Cole’s use of his phone for a map, UV light and evidence scanner (hence the Condemned comparison) as well as use of a gun and stealth takedowns. Cole finds the girl, and then wakes up in the aforementioned asylum, with the Pandora device strapped to his head that allows him to access and re-experience memories through photographs. He is guided by a man calling himself Red via video screens to proceed through the asylum gathering evidence of the events surrounding the kidnapping to get to the bottom of just what happened.
There are other characters in the asylum, all with their own Pandora device. Some are hostile, some less so, and how you interact with them will lead to different events later in the game. Do you release this inmate or leave him in his cell? Maybe he’ll return to attack you later or perhaps he will kill other inmates. You will be reminded often that your actions (not always choices) have consequences, and your behaviour both in and out of your memories will impact events later in the game.
The asylum has a wonderfully creepy and threatening atmosphere with the occasional puzzle to solve, but the bulk of the game takes place in Cole’s memories and this is where the gameplay lets itself down somewhat. You are encouraged to be stealthy, using silent takedowns and your map (which shows enemy visions cones) to avoid conflict. I found the stealth somewhat cumbersome and tended to get spotted by enemies way outside of the map’s range. The combat is passable, with standard pistols, assault rifles and shotguns making up the bulk of your tools. You also have the Cornergun, which uses Cole’s phone’s thermal imagine to aim around corners to take out enemies. I found the framerate dropped quite a bit when using this which was rather irritating, but it was a neat inclusion that aided stealth. If you do get spotted, everyone in the area will instantly know where you are and make a beeline for you resulting in death more often than not. What was pretty neat was that the game explains why these enemies exist in the story’s context. Whilst I won’t say more, it’s elements like this that allowed me to overlook the weak combat and concentrate more on the story. Around two-thirds of the way through the game, the plot shifts considerably and gives you new abilities to play with. But again, I’ll say no more.
It’s very hard for me to explain why I enjoyed this game so much in spite of the slightly off combat without spoiling the story. But it genuinely is well worth playing. A wonderful atmosphere with fantastic music and a story full of twists and turns in which you can’t be sure who or what to believe. It plays with your perception in ways I rarely see (Layers of Fear came to my mind on more than one occasion) and uses the unreliability of memory in an interesting fashion to progress the plot and alter the game world (think Call of Juarez: Gunslinger). This is one of those games that I feel too many people will overlook due to its generic name and outdated visuals, but if you’re interested in stories in gaming and can look past some slightly off combat then you’ll be in for a great experience. I realise that I’ve not given you much to go on, but I implore you to check it out and give it a chance.
Get Even was developed by The Farm 51 and published by Bandai Namco. I played the game on Xbox One and encourage you to check it out for its story. I’ll give Bandai Namco a lot of credit for taking a risk on this one, it very much paid off in my mind. Let me know what you think if you give it a go!