Get Even

The Farm 51’s dark amal­ga­ma­tion of gen­res keeps things odd

XBox: The Official Magazine - - PREVIEWS - Ben Maxwell

Pub­lisher Bandai Namco De­vel­oper The Farm 51 For­mat Xbox One ETA 2017

Horror games have a prob­lem to over­come. For a time, sim­ply lean­ing on the tra­di­tions and beats of cin­e­matic horror was enough, as the nov­elty of be­ing cast at the cen­tre of the ac­tion would counter even the most cyn­i­cal genre stal­wart’s doubts (in­deed, we’ll hap­pily go through it all again if de­vel­op­ers come up with some heart-stop­ping re­hashes us­ing Hololens and our re­ally safe-feel­ing homes). But the jump scares and tech­niques that have kept us on our toes in games like Res­i­dent Evil, The Evil Within and even Dead Space are start­ing to be­come in­creas­ingly fa­mil­iar, los­ing their po­tency – even if, ad­mit­tedly, we still leave the light on at bed­time for a few evenings af­ter a good scare ses­sion. (You don’t?)

So it’s a re­lief to see some­thing like Get Even come along, that – on early ex­pec­ta­tion at least – re­sists easy def­i­ni­tion, al­though it opens on one humdinger of a cliché. The game casts you as Cole Black, a man whose past is ini­tially a mys­tery, but whose ca­pa­bil­i­ties and kit sug­gest a mil­i­tary back­ground, as you wake up ap­par­ently alone in an aban­doned asy­lum. Hold on, don’t go – stay with us. Black can only ac­cess a sin­gle mem­ory: the at­tempted res­cue of a girl held hostage with a bomb strapped to her. He doesn’t know where he is, why he’s there or what he’s sup­posed to do.

Suc­ceed or dial tryin’

Thank­fully, Cole’s equipped with a rather snazzy phone. Rather than call for help, how­ever, he gets stuck us­ing its range of prob­a­bly-not-avail­ableon-the-App-Store ca­pa­bil­i­ties. Chief among these is a tool that lets you know when there’s ev­i­dence nearby, and lets you an­a­lyse it. There’s also a map that can track the move­ments of nearby hu­mans, a UV light for re­veal­ing bod­ily flu­ids and other stains, as well as a heat sen­si­tive cam­era that can high­light elec­tri­cal and heat­ing sys­tems be­hind walls.

As you creep around the dingy, graf­fi­tied cor­ri­dors of the asy­lum, Get Even feels like the gritty cousin of games like Dear Es­ther and Gone Home. Af­ter a lit­tle in­ves­ti­ga­tion, though, we’re given a gun, and all of a sud­den we’re sneak­ing through the un­der­growth, past pa­trolling guards (or, as we did, shoot­ing one in the back of the head and then dis­cov­er­ing the way we’d just cleared was a dead end). In an­other scene – this time a flash­back – we use an ad­vanced ri­fle to shoot a man around a cor­ner, then storm a room in a slow-mo­tion hail of bul­lets. It’s not just a creepy walk­ing sim­u­la­tor, then, but a tense com­bi­na­tion of stealth and ac­tion.

There are puz­zles, too, which we’re forced to solve as we move through the build­ing, and which turn out to be some kind of twisted ‘treat­ment’. A shad­owy fig­ure ap­pears on TV screens through­out the game, telling us that all of this – and the weird VR-style head­set that’s locked to our heads with an ex­plo­sive charge – is for our own good. We’re not so sure.

Get Even’s staunch avoid­ance of sin­gle-genre clas­si­fi­ca­tion, along with its dis­ori­ent­ing nar­ra­tive and con­vinc­ing vo­cal per­for­mances, lend the game an enig­matic air that makes its cen­tral mys­tery all the more ap­peal­ing. If The Farm 51 can keep play­ers guess­ing, this could be an un­ex­pected treat full of dense at­mos­phere and fresh scares.

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