Coming out of nowhere we have Get Even, a rather intriguing title that mixes first person shooting and exploration, with puzzle solving and a dab of psychological drama. It also stars a very angry, very northern Englishman.
As Cole Black, players travel through a strange and surreal adventure in which Black has no idea what’s going on, or where he is. Guided by the enigmatic, Red, and with his only memory being that of an attempted rescue of a girl held hostage and strapped to a bomb, he has to find his answers. He also happens to have a strange VR headpiece strapped to his head that allows him to relive past events, Assassin’s Creed-style. I’m obviously not going to spoil the story, but it’s safe to say the tale told here is certainly interesting, with a hint of horror here and there, and plenty of odd twists.
The game itself isn’t just your usual first person shooter, though, and isn’t a simple clone of the myriad of first person survival horrors cluttering the market in the wake of successful releases like Slenderman, Outlast, and Amnesia. Instead, the focus here is on memory and past events, and there’s a clever use of technology to help breathe life into a genre that’s getting a little old.
Cole always has in his possession his trusty mobile phone. This is no iPhone, though. Instead it’s a military-grade phone that comes complete with an evidence scanner, thermal vision, UV light, and the rather nifty ability to see items in the world that aren’t actually present then bring them into being.
The latter of these tools is used when Black is using his headset to view past events, and when in these memories you can call into being objects that can help you, such as providing cover or hiding spots from enemies. You can also clear away barriers, opening the way forward. It’s interesting, but I found it could have been implemented a lot better, and the feature felt like more of an afterthought than a conceptual idea.
The other features all come into play in the various puzzle-solving sections where you have to use your brains to progress. Each vision mode can be used to find clues, such as the thermal vision that can track active power lines, or the UV mode that can reveal blood trails. Puzzles often require a mixture of modes, and paying attention to your surroundings is key.
Another mode is the map, and this is very useful as the game often enforces a more stealthy approach, as killing foes can actually have an effect on the way memories play out, changing your experience. Going unseen is usually the best course of action, and it’s here where the map comes into use, as it can track and keep you informed of enemy locations in real time.
The investigation sections remind me of Sega’s Condemned series. In fact, the whole aesthetic is reminiscent of these games, although when it comes to combat it doesn’t follow Condemned‘s melee approach, and instead focuses on guns, specifically one of the games other major features, the Corner Gun.
This is a rather simple idea, but one that’s actually pretty interesting. Simply, it’s a gun that’s fitted onto the end of an articulated mount that can turn the gun left or right. Cole’s mobile phone camera then relays the feed from the gun’s point of view, and allows him to see and shoot around corners.
This is used extensively for both combat and stealth, and by aiming upwards and then switching to left or right, it can also shoot over cover whilst keeping you safe. It can also use the various vision modes, such as thermal, making it even more effective.
Now, this all sounds good, and any FPS with forensic puzzling and stealth should sound appealing to many. Indeed, it’s a very promising idea, but sadly, it’s one that just isn’t executed very well, and is tarnished by a general lack of polish and presentation, and some very uninteresting and repetitive locations.
Mechanically, the game just feels really rough and loose. Camera control isn’t smooth, and gunplay reeks of a studio’s first attempt at the genre. The Corner Gun, which is one of the major features, works well enough, but as with the rest of the game, it’s fairly clunky, especially when being used in any direction other than simple left and right.
The graphics range from decent to poor, and the whole game feels very dated, with repeated use of textures and locations, and an overly grungy and drab design. Some memories feature more interesting locations, but these are few and far between, and I found that it was more of a visual eyesore, filled with clipping and sub 30fps frame rates, which is a shame.
Combat is choppy at best, with poor enemy AI that can be fooled by simply running far enough away, and when in combat, your foes are hardly competent, making action sections little more than static shooting galleries.
One area where the game does shine, however, is sound design. Whilst the VO work borders on just plain, the ambient music always manges to keep you on edge, especially during sections of gradually building, industrial tones and clashes that build up your fear levels ahead of some form of important discovery or confrontation.
In all, Get Even succeeds in creating an FPS that defies pigeon holing. It’s hard to firmly classify it as any specific genre, and it manages to combine a lot of unique elements, creating an FPS you’ll certainly find original. Sadly, the developer’s ambition obviously outweighed its skill, and what’s left is a decent game that’s mired by technical shortcomings and a lack of polish.