When crafting a narrative-centered game, you have to make sure you get your audience to invest into your story one way or the other, or else it falls flat. Unless, that is, you make a game very fun to play. Does Farm 51’s Get Even manage to hit either one of these targets? Well, it appears to have aimed for both and ended up hitting the middle, not to strike a balance but to miss both targets at once. Let’s review my memories of Get Even and see why I think this is the case.
You start the game as Cole Black, who must have decided to be as close as possible to being Liam Neeson so that nobody makes fun of his name. Black attempts to save a hostage where everything seems to be going according to plan, and suddenly, sideways as he reaches the girl he’s trying to save. He then wakes up trying to make sense of the situation and wanders into an abandoned asylum. With only the instructions of a mysterious Mr. Red to guide him, he tries to piece together fragmented memories to complete his treatment.
Production (3.5 / 5)
I’m afraid I can’t really say anything remarkable about Get Even’s visuals on the PS4. Its aesthetics try to make itself look as realistic as possible, while it does tick that checkbox pretty well, it’s hard to remember anything that distinct about the game’s look. This is okay for places like office spaces and abandoned warehouses, but it really weakened the atmosphere for the suspense sections as everything started feeling familiar to a point that surprises were obvious. Slightly different doors were scarier than actual threats.
The audio did a lot of work in terms of setting up the tone of every scene you go through, music was just at the right levels and voice lines sounded rather convincing and may help you invest better into the story, except for the game’s main characters who you hear the entire game.
Sadly, one of the game’s weaknesses was the consistency of its frame rate whenever it attempted to do its interesting polygon shattering effects. While it was okay for set piece sections, this turned out to cause issues during combat segments every now and then.
Mechanics (1.5 / 5)
Get Even is generally a mixture of three types of gameplay. Namely tactical stealth, puzzle solving and item finding. The Farm 51 tries to make these three types of gameplay blend by never having to leave your character while doing any of these games. Obviously, since the game is already settled in its FPS format, the other two types of gameplay were going to have to take the back seat most of the time. Unfortunately, whenever the other two had their turn on the spotlight it was either simply an uninspired time sink or really just too scarce to consider significant.
During the entire run with Cole Black you are equipped with the world’s most useful tool, a smartphone. With built in functions like a thermal camera, a flashlight that doubles as a UV light, a GPS radar, and more. Understandably you can only use one of these functions at a time, so you can either see what’s in front of you or know if something’s waiting around the corner. Since you never have to worry about anything like battery, it never really becomes a real limitation. You are also equipped with a silenced pistol but you can pick up any weapon you find later. However considering that only your pistol works with the strange feature weapon of the game, the Corner Gun, and everyone can kill you as soon as you hop out of cover, the weapon of choice becomes obvious.
However, your buddy Red would scold you whenever you kill someone so using it seems pointless. As much as you’d like to play the recommended method, stealth, there’s really not much that lets you do that. The GPS map isn’t accurate, there’s no real way to traverse the area better than what a normal walking man can, or actually conceal yourself in these stages. For a man who’s supposed to be a badass ex-military guy, he really runs thin on reasons to consider him such. Having no way to actually take control of the situation, the best method to get around it was to simply rinse, memorize, and repeat.
What’s most annoying about these parts is how the game is based on checkpoints, meaning if you alerted the soldiers and just manage to run to the next checkpoint, all the guards disappear and nobody seems to remember seeing you. While this frustrated me at first, you can guess what I ended up doing for the rest of the game.
Puzzle solving parts were, while welcome, came too rarely and didn’t really take advantage of the game’s mixed presentation at all, they ended up more as intricate ways to unlock the next door than really adding anything to the game’s narrative. But at the very least they were a lot more enjoyable than the investigation part of Get Even.
Investigating was more like item collection, where it was difficult to tell how much you had to get until you arrive at ‘level select’ area. Collecting evidence to complete your conspiracy cork board for each level would be the main reason for you to repeat these levels. However, there is no way to recognize which notes you have read before. And note that 90% of this evidence you can find are scraps of paper either hanging on the wall or sitting on some floor or table. There are special ones that you have to scan with your phone and scanning can get pretty annoying because of its strict clipping rules. There’s really not much to this after because even after ‘completing’ two stages (over 90% evidence found), I didn’t get any new tools or abilities that Red had promised me which got me really annoyed and I stopped caring. And tried to breeze through the game looking for something to actually enjoy playing with. Yep, this suddenly became a speedrun to find something interesting.
Content (1.5 / 5)
Get Even’s story is the focus of the game’s content, and you progress through the game in a linear manner with the choice of repeating past levels for completion’s sake. This makes the game feel very padded in terms of how much there is to play. How you generally play in the game will lead you to one of two endings which you may find disappointing when you realize how different they actually are.
What’s become abundantly clear about Get Even is it’s huge focus on showcasing to you storytelling set pieces. They appear more and more often as you progress through the game and can be nice to look at first, but you later realize that you seem to be walking through digital wax museums which you apparently have to interact with at some point to proceed. It failed to convey this properly and I thought the game had been bugging out for a while until I realized that it wasn’t quite the case. Interactions with these scenes were pretty much limited to proceeding to the next part to watch, which is a pretty disappointing way to do it.
Not applicable. No online features, no library for viewing.
Overall (2 / 5)
Get Even certainly has a talented development team, managing to make realistic looking sceneries to imaginative representations of how memory looks like in the mindscape. Unfortunately, looking back at my entire experience with the game I could tell that everybody had ideas they wanted to put forward. Then tried to do all of them instead of cutting them down to a few ideas and refining them to their best potential. We find ourselves walking through a lot of material that shows promise but fails to lift itself from mediocrity.
It would have been much more interesting to play through sections of the lives that make up the story of Get Even, to actually experience their stress and conflict in some form of gameplay instead of walking through a mind museum and being told about what happened. Why not combine puzzle sections to stealth by creating stage puzzles that allow you to avoid combat altogether? Why not make a mini game that’s difficult to complete not because of the game’s difficulty but because of the constant interruptions caused by being a new parent? Everything felt like separate sections that tried to be good enough on its own rather than great for the entire game. It was like trying to down a shake that didn’t quite have enough time on the blender. Having to stop to deal with coarser pieces in the whole thing every so often.
And then, after slogging through this rather clunky blend of game design. I suddenly come through another mode of gameplay that has interesting abilities like detection, teleportation, and taking over somebody’s body. Why did it take me this long to do all this cool stuff? The gameplay was suddenly interesting but it was far too late to the party.
I really want to appreciate Get Even more than how I’ve described it so far but its execution leaves so much to be desired. Its high ambitions toward creating a memorable experience by presenting a story that challenges old, exhausted tropes and attempting to cover multiple types of gameplay in a single format sounds like an admirable task. Sadly, I couldn’t say it succeeded. It got too absorbed in telling its own story rather than involving the player in it, and its execution stumbles many times outweighing the admiration it gained for it’s intentions.
If you want to know how a good atmosphere for a thriller is done, this is a great example.
If you want to see an interesting story, consider it, but very lightly.
Get Even fails to beat the odds scoring a 2.1/5
This can be played on PS4, XBoxOne and PC. But don’t.