Get Even

The Farm 51’s thriller gets more mys­te­ri­ous with ev­ery step taken into its world

EDGE - - GAMES - De­vel­oper The Farm 51 Pub­lisher Bandai Namco For­mat PC, PS4, Xbox One Ori­gin Poland Re­lease May 26

PC, PS4, Xbox One

As has al­ready been well es­tab­lished,

Get Even isn’t a first­per­son shooter or puz­zle ad­ven­ture, and it cer­tainly isn’t a sur­vival-hor­ror game. But it is built on the foun­da­tion of its cre­ative di­rec­tor’s deep­est fear. “The very ba­sis of the game is what I’m scared of most,” Wo­j­ciech Paz­dur ex­plains. “I’m a fa­ther, I’m 30-some­thing, so I’m not afraid of zom­bies or aliens. I’m afraid that some­one could do some­thing bad to my kids and I wouldn’t be able to help them.”

That sense of help­less­ness, and parental lament, is re­flected in pro­tag­o­nist Cole Black’s ob­ses­sion with the girl he may or may not have res­cued from the hostage sit­u­a­tion he has patchy me­mories of prior to in­car­cer­a­tion at the run­down asy­lum he now finds him­self in. And while there’s no ev­i­dence that the girl was re­lated to Black, she was some­body’s daugh­ter, and as the tar­get of his ex­trac­tion mis­sion she was also his re­spon­si­bil­ity.

“The main in­ten­tion is to make you feel some­thing,” pro­ducer Lionel Lo­visa ex­plains. “We’re go­ing to toy with peo­ple’s feel­ings, not gen­res. And so we wanted a lo­cal story that you could be­lieve was your own. And we build our me­chan­ics around what we want peo­ple to feel at each point in the story.”

Hav­ing seen a larger por­tion of the game now, we’re happy – and re­lieved – to re­port that it re­mains as in­scrutable as its open­ing hour even af­ter some of the ma­jor plot points have taken root. While The Farm 51 has tight­ened up the game’s open­ing – there is now, for ex­am­ple, a handily po­si­tioned en­emy to teach you how to per­form stealth take­downs where be­fore we breezed through the demo with­out ever re­al­is­ing a melee op­tion was avail­able – it’s what lies be­yond Black’s ini­tial asy­lum ori­en­ta­tion that re­ally in­trigues.

The mys­te­ri­ous head­wear that Black finds him­self locked into, it turns out, is a Mem­ory Vi­su­al­i­sa­tion Head­set, co­de­named Pan­dora, which is de­signed to al­low him to ac­cess and re­live me­mories of events he has al­ready ex­pe­ri­enced. These me­mories are trig­gered by look­ing at pho­tos of par­tic­u­lar lo­ca­tions, and through these por­tals we work our way through a num­ber of past mis­sions and some darker, less of­fi­cial ac­tiv­i­ties.

Once drawn in, Black ex­pe­ri­ences events as if they were real. He feels pain and can in­ter­act with ob­jects and peo­ple in the world, but closer in­spec­tion re­veals his sub­con­scious pok­ing through the man­tle. Since Black’s rec­ol­lec­tion is shaky, he mis­re­mem­bers some as­pects of the en­vi­ron­ment, and these fizzing anom­alies can be scanned us­ing your phone or gun to change things around you – con­jur­ing up large planters that can be used for cover, for ex­am­ple. Black’s thoughts

man­i­fest in other ways, too: in one puz­zle, he can re­call an ac­cess code to a door by find­ing pic­tures of him­self at var­i­ous ages around the of­fice. And, as the player ob­serves the world and tries to make sense of it, so too does Black through a darkly comic script that does a par­tic­u­larly good job of fram­ing his predica­ment in a nat­u­ral­is­tic way.

“We re­ally wanted to make a story-driven game,” Paz­dur says, “and the orig­i­nal idea came to me when I watched The But­ter­fly Ef­fect in 2005. It’s about a guy who fails at some­thing, and so he’s re­play­ing his life try­ing to fix it, and then when he cre­ates new prob­lems he has to again go back and [take an­other run at it]. I wanted to cre­ate a story that doesn’t just make you fol­low these loops lin­early one af­ter the other, but al­lows you to play with them and shows you dif­fer­ent al­ter­na­tives, and gives you the feel­ing that you are shap­ing them some­how.”

How you ap­proach each mem­ory can change its out­come, and the op­tions that are avail­able to you through­out. If you try to recre­ate Black’s orig­i­nal ac­tions – which, for the most part, means stealth­ily sneak­ing past en­e­mies, and solv­ing puz­zles to pro­ceed – then you’ll have a bet­ter chance of gath­er­ing all the ev­i­dence you need to start mak­ing sense of your past. You’ll also please the ar­chi­tect of your so-called treat­ment, the shad­owy doc­tor who talks you through your or­deal. One ex­am­ple sees our path blocked by a scald­ing jet of steam. Ex­per­i­ment­ing with a col­lec­tion of valves will even­tu­ally see the way be­come clear, but you could just save time and shoot the pad­lock off the gate next to it. This ir­ri­tates your tor­men­tor, and he will be­come less pa­tient with you. Con­tinue to defy him, and he’ll threaten to stop be­ing nice.

It’s a lit­tle awk­ward, then, to dis­cover that the less-favoured brute-force op­tion pre­sented by the ex­per­i­men­tal Cor­ner Gun, which you steal dur­ing an early mis­sion, is such an enor­mously sat­is­fy­ing one. The weapon is a pow­er­ful tool, al­low­ing you to stay in cover while sur­vey­ing for threats, and line up head­shots un­no­ticed. You can bend it around cor­ners, or over the top of low cover, then watch as en­e­mies shat­ter in slow mo­tion with each kill. It’s also put to good use in some puz­zles – in one out­door area we scan a dis­crep­ancy in a wall to re­veal a gap, then use the Cor­ner Gun to shoot the pad­lock off a door be­fore sneak­ing through into the next court­yard. Af­ter avoid­ing the at­ten­tion of the guards and reach­ing the other side, our dis­em­bod­ied doc­tor praises us for our quiet, clean ef­fort. The re­sul­tant flurry of pride is fol­lowed by a pang of dis­ap­point­ment that we weren’t more re­bel­lious, and so the en­e­mies in the fol­low­ing room suf­fer the con­se­quences amid a hail of well-aimed bul­lets.

How­ever you tackle a mem­ory, there’s al­ways the op­tion to re­play it via a ‘fil­ing cab­i­net’ for ev­i­dence and me­mories. This hub area is a plain of­fice room whose ceil­ing cas­cades into a tan­gle of synapses above you. Each mem­ory has a cork board on the wall, and all the ev­i­dence you’ve gath­ered from it can be re­ex­am­ined. Coloured string draws links be­tween them and pro­vides hints as to where miss­ing ev­i­dence might be lo­cated, while a per­cent­age marker at the bot­tom shows how much you’ve dis­cov­ered. Some ev­i­dence is only ac­ces­si­ble if you make cer­tain de­ci­sions along the way, but the cause of each branch­ing path won’t nec­es­sar­ily be ob­vi­ous. “If you’re fly­ing some­where, and you choose one flight or the other, it may have ram­i­fi­ca­tions for you but not the rest of the world,” Paz­dur says. “Per­haps you meet the love of your life on one, but not on the other? That’s how we’ve tried to play it with Get

Even, while still mak­ing it feel im­por­tant.” There are many other rev­e­la­tions dur­ing our ses­sion, but in a game built so firmly around piec­ing to­gether the sit­u­a­tion, they’re best left for play­ers to dis­cover them­selves. But in its con­fi­dent as­sim­i­la­tion of as­pects from a mul­ti­tude of gen­res, and a tightly curled cen­tral mys­tery that only seems to pose more ques­tions in re­sponse to each one an­swered, it’s clear this es­o­teric vi­sion is quite ca­pa­ble of sus­tain­ing a great deal more than an hour-long proof of con­cept.

“I’m not afraid of zom­bies. I’m afraid some­one could do some­thing bad to my kids”

FROM TOP Pro­ducer Lionel Lo­visa and cre­ative di­rec­tor Wo­j­ciech Paz­dur

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