Is it a shooter? Is it a walking simulator? Is it a survival horror game? Easily one of the most intriguing games to launch in 2017, Get Even doesn’t really fit any of these genres. This is mainly due to its wilful disregard of labels. Although played in first person – and yes, there are guns – it blurs the line between genres while unspooling its darkly complex story.
Set in modern day England, the game casts players as Cole Black, a rugged mercenary type suffering from amnesia. He awakens in a rundown asylum with a bizarre headset contraption strapped to head. Unable to remember who he is and why he’s here, a mysterious observer named Red promises to reveal the truth.
Pandora, the device Cole has been fitted with, is a cutting edge piece of technology, allowing users to recall and explore memories as if they were really there. By using the Pandora, Cole sets about reconstructing his memory, one piece at a time. Compared to most games, Get Even touts a fairly elaborate story, set across a nonlinear timeline. Being able to open a door to past events acts as a sort of time travel and that comes with a number of narrative complexities. Early on, most of what’s happening just won’t make sense, but as you draw closer to the finale, that all-important context slowly comes to light. It’s a meandering albeit succinct sci-fi thriller that likes to mess with players right up until the very end, much like an episode of Black Mirror.
At times, Get Even feels more like a television series more than a video game, thanks to a slow build-up, climactic ending, and plenty of head-scratching in between. That said, the way the story is told wouldn’t suit a TV format – it’s been specifically crafted with a first person viewpoint in mind. More importantly, Get Even story is semi-malleable in that even the smallest player interactions can impact the plot, leading to changes in how the events pan out.
Much like Firewatch, Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture and other first person adventure games, there’s a focus on exploration as players seek out clues and conduct the occasional bit of puzzle solving. It’s not a format every gamer will come to appreciate, especially those looking for an instant dose of action. For the most part, your job is to steer Cole from one memory to the next, joining the dots as you go along.
Get Even pulls a pretty bold move by placing a gun in the player’s hands. Throughout the game, you’ll cycle between non-combat zones and those populated with enemy patrols. Gunfights are mostly optional and the enigmatic Red will pop up from time to time, reminding you that an all-out slaughter may distort Cole’s memories.
The shooting itself is serviceable though it can feel like an afterthought at times. It lacks the fluidity and finesse of your typical first person shooter and the transition between exploration and gun battles can be jarring at times. One original feature that many will find interesting, however is the game’s Corner Gun. This nifty piece of real world military tech has a hinged barrel that can snap around cover points to target enemies.
Get Even also shuffles some light stealth mechanics into the mix, though this involves nothing more than stalking guards and finding a blind spot in their patrol patterns. While a little clunky and out of place, having some form of combat allows Get Even to sidestep the dryness and lack of variety almost every walking sim suffers from.
Still, story is the overriding focus here, and The Farm 51 prioritises this above all else. The script is engaging and helps to render a small yet human feeling cast of characters. While it’s easy to get a general grasp on what’s happening, there are plenty of audio tapes and other clues to collect that help fill in some of the blanks.
The production values are also top notch, at least in terms of audio. Olivier Deriviere’s soundtrack is easily one of the best we’ve heard this year, transitioning between moments of dread, wonder, and raw emotion. Listen closely and you’ll hear how environmental noises – like Cole’s breathing, creaking floorboards, and gas pipes – intertwine with the music. It’s cleverly composed and feels baked into the game itself, instead of being layered on top like the majority of soundtracks. The voice acting is also solid throughout with a strong British cast who bring Get Even’s characters to life.
Visually, the game has fewer highlights. Some characters and environmental textures are given a lifelike appeal thanks to 3D scanning technology, but these clever techniques are marred by the game’s inconsistent framerate on consoles. Even when there’s not much happening on-screen, Get Even struggles to hit a solid 30fps.
While it has its flaws, there’s a uniqueness to Get Even we rarely see in video games today. Right away, The Farm 51 demonstrates its desire to be different, crossing between genres and actually taking a gamble. While it doesn’t always pay off, we’re still left with something both intriguing, experimental and, at times, thought provoking.
Version Tested: PlayStation 4