Get Even (PS4) First Impressions

As this review is a First Impressions of a game that is still in development, there will be no */10 Geeks score at the end. Any aspects of the game discussed here are subject to change in the final version.

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Whether or not you enjoy Get Even is going to depend on how much you don't like having every question answered - or even most questions, for that matter. If you're the kind of pop culture consumer who avoids things like Inception, Minority Report, Silent Hill and the collected works of David Lynch, you'll want to add Get Even to that list, then go and reassess your life choices.

Those of us who are keen on all of the above will, most likely, have a ball.

After reading a few reports which detailed several different incarnations of its story, dating as far back as 2013, the version of Get Even that I played had a plot somewhere between Deadly Premonition and Paycheck, with a healthy dose of P.T. mixed in. You play as Cole Black, a Sean Bean-accented mercenary who starts the game tracking down a kidnapped young woman in a dilapidated house filled with armed men. After seemingly setting off a bomb whilst rescuing her, Cole wakes up four years later outside an abandoned mental asylum, with no memory of the time in-between. A mysterious figure named Red informs Cole that he is here to relive some of his memories, in order to ascertain how he got to the asylum, what happened to the girl, and why one of his most recent contracts may have something to do with both.

To say that Get Even has a loopy narrative isn't doing it justice. The story fully embraces going in medias res and uses an anachronic structure to a somewhat disorienting degree, rapidly shifting between moments in Cole's memories and his present-day time in the asylum. Very little is concretely explained or given to the player easily; even after three hours spent with the game, I struggled to coherently piece together much of the journey Cole's taken to get to the present day. The narrative has hinted thus far as at a couple of developments - including the obvious notion that Cole might not be as heroic as he seems - but I'm still rather left in the dark about where this is all going. And I love it.

This is where the David Lynch influence comes in. Granted, Get Even has a bit more terra firma to it than some of Twin Peaks or Mulholland Drive's weirder, more inexplicable moments, but a lot of the game's engaging and unsettling nature comes from the largely inscrutable plot, many of the characters' unclear motivations, and a lot of genre-mashing. Hints of the supernatural are woven here and there, especially during lengthy sections exploring the asylum when the influence of P.T. is felt most. The memory-reliving mechanic - along with the distortion of reality and the suggestion that Cole's memories have been tampered with - evokes elements of Inception and Minority Report. Cole's backstory as a corporate gun-for-hire has shades of James Bond, though his character lacks the innate charm of the British superspy and has a more grunting, thuggish presence. All of these different flavours occasionally conflict with one another, particularly during an energetic action sequence in one of Cole's early memories which immediately gives way to a much more claustrophobic, psychological horror-tinged jaunt through the asylum. Ultimately the tones balance well, for the most part, even if they'll give you more whiplash than Indiana Jones when he's faced with a cobra.

In contrast to the story's complexity, the gameplay is quite simple. It's primarily a first-person view with the requisite shooting mechanics and minimalist HUD, along with a few investigative tools - such as an evidence scanner and a black light - used through apps on your smartphone. While it's nice that the game doesn't overburden the player with too many gameplay elements and a mind screw of a plot, it'd be good to see if some the mechanics present can be used for things other than glorified quick-time events; the evidence scanner, in particular, merely needs you to line up your phone with a highlighted area on the phone's screen in order for some parts of the plot to progress. The shooting and stealth combat takedowns also feel a little clunky, emphasising the need to avoid enemies even more than you're already encouraged to; Splinter Cell or Hitman, this ain't.

On top of the above, the graphics are a bit rough around the edges. The framerate is consistently high - it looked 60FPS to me, but I didn't confirm when I tried the demo - and the art team have done a good job accentuating the unnerving qualities of the asylum through a host of dilapidated rooms and crumbling architecture, augmented by some strong sound design. The other locales explored - including the underground tunnels from the opening level, plus a few other places which I won't spoil - look relatively simplistic by comparison, their colour palettes distinctly unengaging and the map design looking fairly boxy and lacking in the kind of visual nuance afforded to the asylum. Human enemies are similarly underdeveloped, most characters looking fairly similar to one another; at one point, I mistook an enemy who attempted to kill me for somebody else I'd met earlier in the game, and what could've been a fairly interesting plot twist instead became a dull realisation that I'd just killed a random goon instead. It might be unsettling, too, to see every dead enemy with their eyes glassily open, though I'm uncertain as to whether that's more fuel for the horror factor or just a representation of the lack of visual detail.

For all that sawdust above, though, I'm intrigued to see where the final version of Get Even ends up. The time I spent with it kept me riveted to my chair and muttering words of panic whenever the tone shifted from action to horror - something which undoubtedly annoyed the fellow reviewers around me in the Bandai Namco offices, for which I apologise profusely to them. The game's got good atmosphere, a trippy plot and just enough of a throughline of truth in its story to keep me wading through the weirdness, inexplicability and genre-shifting, but it might need a bit more polish on the interactive components before Cole Black and the asylum see the light of day.

Oh, and on a final note, you will not see wooden dummies the same way after playing Get Even. If you find yourself ever needing one, buy a plastic mannequin instead. Trust me, I'm doing you a favour.

- Chris



Get Even is set to release for Playstation 4, Xbox One and PC on May 26.

Geek of Oz would like to thank Bandai Namco for allowing us to have a hands-on look at the demo.

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