Get Even Review – flawed, derivative and utterly compelling
It takes time to get to grips with Get Even. That’s not to say The Farm 51’s offering is a glitchy mess or that it’s in some way mechanically unsound.
No, the reason Get Even takes time is that, for at least the first few hours, players will likely have no idea what’s going on in the game’s plot, or even what genre the game they’re playing falls into.
Get Even is a very difficult game to classify. It’s presented as a First Person Shooter (FPS) although shooting is its weakest aspect. It shares some similarities with survival horror games – its environments are creepy as hell and its soundtrack is capable of making your hairs stand up – but there’s very little in the way of true terror here. And while its plot starts off promisingly enough, the continual misdirection it hurls at the player becomes frustrating after a time.
Perhaps the most unqualified compliment one could pay the game would be to call it ‘ambitious’. However, while The Farm 51 deserves praise for aiming high, it has to be pointed out that the developer doesn’t always hit its targets.
Get Even kicks off with a grizzled military type named Cole Black (yes, really) infiltrating an abandoned building, where a group of armed thugs are holding a girl hostage. After winding his way through the building’s grimy interior, Black dispatches a couple of foes and finds the hostage with a bomb strapped to her. Since he’s just shot the goon with the disarm code, both Black and the girl are blown to smithereens.
Black then wakes up in an asylum with some foreign apparatus strapped to his head. He’s contacted by a disembodied voice called simply ‘Red’ who informs him that the blast left Black in a coma and that he’s in a virtual reality simulation aimed at piecing together his memory. To that end, Black has to explore the asylum looking for clues that’ll trigger flashbacks, while fending off enemies armed with guns and crowbars. Hilarity ensues…
As has been mentioned, the initial set up for Get Even’s story sounds great. Since players are given next to zero to go on as the action kicks off, they’re pretty much in lock-step with Black cerebrally in that they know as much (or as little) as he does. Unfortunately, aside from his gruff Northern UK accent, Black is about as bland a protagonist as one is likely to come across in a videogame and this punctures the impact of some of the plot’s revelations. He’s just too hard to care about.
Furthermore, what starts off as an intriguing premise soon becomes annoying due to the fact that a lot of what’s conveyed is clunkingly obvious and revelations that point the way forward feel needlessly obfuscated. Black continually asks what the hell is going (mirroring the sentiments of the player after a time) and ‘Red’ tosses as many red herrings at the protagonist as he/she does useful information. Even though Get Even runs a relatively short 12 hours in length, one can’t help but feel this game’s story could do with quite a bit of trimming.
The saggy, albeit interesting plot, wouldn’t be such an issue if the action kept the player engaged. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case; players will spend an inordinate amount of time flicking through Black’s smartphone apps in the vein hope that their environment will toss up a clue or two.
When Black is called upon to engage in a firefight, the gunplay is hardly satisfying, even though at some stage he gets hold of a weapon called a ‘corner gun’ that allows him to shoot at 90 degree angles. When gun battles take place, they feel like they’re staggering the game’s momentum, rather than enhancing it.
Get Even’s main problem is that it doesn’t feel like more than the sum of its parts. The smartphone puzzle solving recalls Condemned: Criminal Origins. The process of piecing together a story from frayed memories isn’t a million miles away from Gone Home. And the dingy environments, creepy atmosphere and the narrative of a man addressing past failures through self-examination and anguish is basically the pitch for Silent Hill 2.
That’s a pretty impressive list of influences. It’s also a list of games that are much better and more engrossing to play than Get Even.
Get Even Review: Verdict
Get Even is an ambitious, if flawed experience. That having been said, it’s also the sort of game that cults spring up around. While far from great, there’s a lot to admire about this game, which gives one hope for the developer’s future. Now that The Farm 51 has proven it can make a game that, while containing more than its fair share of issues, is undeniably compelling, it’s time for it to move forward and make a better one.
- Get Even was reviewed on a PS4. A review copy was provided by the publisher.