Because, like, Trip can mean “a short journey or outing” but also what happens when the human brain gets confused, weirded out, or otherwise fucked about with – which, in a nutshell, is pretty much what Get Even aims to do during….wait for it…….its relatively short journey/outing!!
Anyways, as I’ve just demonstrated via the medium of an exceptionally clever (and – if there’s any justice in the world – Pulitzer Prize winning) title, Get Even is a not-quite-full-length Game from Polish Indie outfit The Farm 51, which can most readily be classified as a kind of First-Person psychological horror/mindbender/shooter hybrid. That is, perhaps surprisingly, a fairly saturated niche in the Gaming market and, as such, I’d initially decided not to bother with Get Even but, thanks to a few positive reviews (including this one at I Played The Game – cheers, mate), I opted to pick up a copy – and I’m genuinely pretty glad I did. Having not played on my PS4 for over a month, Get Even acted as a perfect re-entry point to big-screen Console Gaming, and I thoroughly enjoyed the few days it took me to complete it. Indeed, with its “bit of everything” approach, Get Even managed to simultaneously provide me with a lot of the Gaming stuff I’d been missing out on in one cool little package, and at just 30 quid it turned out to be quite the bargain…..
It’s not easy to cover this aspect of Get Even without dancing very close to *SPOILERING SHIT UP* territory, but I’ma try my best anyway. Just to be safe though, consider yourself warned. Basically, you’ll find yourself heavily involved in some shenanigans that include (but aren’t necessarily limited to) investigating the kidnapping of a young girl, amnesia, industrial espionage, a fair amount of wandering around in an asylum, and all whilst utilising (or being utilised by) some Fringe/Futurist Tech of dubious morality. Again, none of this is particularly original in Games (which possibly says a lot, but is likely a topic for another day) but Get Even manages to weave these ideas together in reasonably inventive ways, and from a narrative point of view there are enough twists and turns to keep things both interesting and compelling. There’s a decent element of mystery, a chunk of creepiness (see again; the asylum, but then add in a shitload of fucking mannequins), an admirable degree of bona fide feelz and, if that wasn’t enough, they’re all layered together in a reasonably clever way which both encourages and rewards replaying and re-investigating.
Like the best examples of the genre, you’ll spend a lot of your time wondering what the actual fucking fuck’s going on, another chunk of your time finding out what the actual fucking fuck’s going on, before then realising that, actually, you were probably better off when you didn’t know what the actual fucking fuck was going on. I mean, I’m sure there’s a technical narrative-y term for that, but let’s just call it “what the actual fucking fuck-eyness” for now, and let’s just say that Get Even contains a lot of it. Like, loads. And honestly, I really quite enjoyed it. From start to finish, I was generally pretty enamoured with Get Even’s story, and I was happily swept up in getting to the bottom of the “what the actual fucking fuck-eyness” of it all.
Gameplay and Mechanics
In order to do that, you’ll have to get to grips with the aforementioned “bit of everything” nature of Get Even, and in practice, that’ll involve investigating, puzzling, stealthing and, if you’re shite at stealthing like I am, a fair bit of shooting too. If we’re being critical, it’s highly possible to consider this an example of a “throwing everything at a Game and hoping some of it sticks” approach, I guess, but for me it just about worked most of the time. Indeed, as I said it was actually a bit of a bonus personally, but even if that weren’t the case, I think the balance of Get Even actively keeps things interesting, and it certainly helps prevent it all from becoming a wee bit repetitive and same-y.
In terms of investigation, you’ll be armed with a phone to collect photographic and (thanks to a scanner-ograph-ey doodah App) biological/chemical evidence, and there’ll be various clues and collectibles scattered around as you make your way through Get Even’s increasingly bizarre and trippy levels. Indeed, your phone will become your absolute best friend in the game, providing you with various utilities that’ll aid you in most of your endeavors. For the puzzling, it might be the UV light that’ll help you, perhaps the infrared/heat camera, and whilst none of the puzzles are super difficult per se, messing about with your phone before figuring out what you need to be doing is still pretty cool and satisfying for the most part.
For your Stealthy stuff, you’ll use the Map App to ascertain the position of enemies as you’re sneaking around, trying not to be seen. That’s pretty tired and hackneyed, right!? Well, yeah it is…. but, thanks to a certain Narrative element of Get Even, you’ll also be able to use the map and camera on your phone to create barriers and whatnot that’ll help you avoid being spotted. I won’t explain what that Narrative element is because a) it’s a bit Spoiler-ey and b) I’m not smart enough, even if I wanted to – but it certainly helps make the Stealthing a bit more interesting and unique. Or, it would if I wasn’t horrifically bad at it.
Which brings me to the Combat. As it’s not primarily a shooter, Get Even can feel a bit clunky compared to the likes of your CoDs and Battlefields, and that’s a feeling that’s both emphasised and mitigated by the Game’s main gimmick in the Shooting department. “How does something emphasise and mitigate something at the same time James, you big fucking eejit!?” I hear you ask. Well, the gimmick in question is an experimental “corner gun” (which you’ll acquire thanks to the aforementioned industrial espionage) which… Well, it allows you to shoot around corners, innit!? That’s then used in conjunction with your phone (think of it as a particularly deadly Selfie Stick) so you’re left with a corner gun with infrared/enemy positioning tech to aid you in your quest. Still with me? Well, anyway… that gimmick, if you’re using it well, can mitigate the fact that Get Even’s Shooting stuff isn’t exactly a strong point but, if you’re horrific with it (and have to fall back on regular Shooting when you get spotted or bollocks everything up), you’ll oftentimes find yourself struggling with the game’s less-than-smooth FPS mechanics.
I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t dead good with either the Stealth or the Shooting but, because it’s only a part of the Game and because there’s plenty of other stuff going on in Get Even, I actually found myself willing to overlook the frustration that came from messing up a stealth bit and having to grapple with the iffy shooting mechanics. Even though, at times, it felt very much like I was controlling an aircraft carrier, and even though aiming down sights took so long the baddies had often finished their shift and gone home by the time I’d done so, I was more than willing to suffer through it (and the numerous restarts) precisely because I was enjoying the whole Get Even package.
Narrative (again) and Conclusion
And that whole package thing is very much Get Even’s main draw. All of the various things in the Game are primarily there to facilitate the story Get Even’s trying to tell and, for the most part, they do just that. The variety helps keep certain things from becoming too generic and, more importantly, they don’t get in the way of the story. It’s a fine line, for sure, but I never felt like the shoot-ey bits (for example) were included for the sake of it, and when I’d finished the game, I was left with the sense that Get Even had just about got the balance right. Indeed, all things considered, I think Get Even managed to achieve that “greater than the sum of its parts” whatsit precisely because the Gameplay and Story work together to mutually benefit each other.
Get Even isn’t a balls-to-the-wall Action-packed Game, but nor is it just a walking Simulator either. It is, though, an Interactive Narrative where the interactivity is substantial, and where the Story is, erm… substantialer, and there’s enough originality in both to keep you interested and engaged, I think.
After finishing Get Even I was left feeling generally quite satisfied, and as though I’d experienced a fairly original and unique entry into an arguably well-worn genre. It’s a little rough around the edges at times, but it’s intriguing, ambitious and it attempts to defy your expectations – which make up, I think, for its slightly unpolished parts. What’s more, because Get Even has one of those “cumulative actions determine outcomes” doodahs, I’m more than willing to dive back in and give it all another crack. The incentive towards re-playability was further strengthened by my desire to collect the evidence and clues I’d missed the first time around (and the gadgets/guns that unlocks), not least because Get Even features a hub with evidence boards, and the big old empty spaces were straight-up taunting my Gaming OCD.
For a game that cost me less than £30, I’d say that’s a pretty decent return. Get Even’s not the best game I’ve played this year, but I thoroughly enjoyed my time with it and I’m definitely glad I decided to give it a go. In many ways, it displays all the hallmarks of a Game that’s destined to become something of a cult classic, and in general, I think it’s probably deserving of that title. In a Gaming world of Triple-A clichés and bottlenecking Gameplay, it was quite refreshing to see The Farm 51 take a risk with something at least a little different and, ultimately, that makes it really quite memorable. If you’re a fan of “what the actual fucking fuck-eyness” in Games, or even just intriguing little stories told well, I reckon you could do a lot, lot worse than Get Even.