thefakepsychic's Get Even (PlayStation 4) review

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While far less than the sum of its parts, Get Even’s flashes of brilliance make a decently enjoyable experience.

There are certain areas of The Farm 51’s Get Even that, with enough refinement, could easily stand out on their own. The game’s environmental storytelling, dense mystery, and a few imaginative gameplay mechanics each worthy of praise on their own. However, these genius aspects lie muddled inside of a game filled with bloated encounter design and incoherent “choice” aspects so deeply that the strengths can’t support the game’s many weaknesses.

Get Even follows the story of Cole Black, a mercenary-turned-security-chief-with-a-dash-of-corporate-spy for a military-industrial science corporation. Someone abducted the boss’s daughter, and you’re on the case. A short introductory level later, Black finds the girl, who promptly then explodes via a bomb strapped to her chest. The explosion causes you to wake up with amnesia inside of a decaying mental asylum with a crazy VR rig on your head, guided by a shadowy man on the CCTV’s named Red to discover the truth of what happened in the run-up to the explosion.

Meandering through the asylum is certainly the high point of Get Even. There are the right amount of world-building documents lying around to provide an interesting look at the various events of the main story, as well as enough incidental bits of history about the asylum that create an incredible sense of immersion. While it’s not going to win any awards for “sensitivity towards the mentally ill,” the other speaking inhabitants are compelling foils to perpetual straight-man Black, seemingly all members of various cargo cults in different areas of the asylum

The dense mystery is unraveled via the VR system strapped to Black’s body. By examining photos of locations tied to Black’s memory of events, the VR system kicks in and transports him to a living, breathing version of those memories. Much like real memories, these areas can be transient and fleeting, filled with misremembered details and ever-shifting perceptions. Blockages in pathways or items to use as cover can be dismissed or created with a push of a button, as the VR system tries to reconcile the differences between the actual events and Black’s perceptions.

Unfortunately, these memory worlds provide the bulk of the combat in the game, and that’s where things begin to fall apart. Not necessarily mechanically, as Get Even provides you with an incredibly interesting weapon for most of the game in the CornerGun, an assault rifle that can turn 90 degrees and fire around corners or above cover. The problem lies with how the game handles encounter areas and the clash therein.

According to the narrative, the memory worlds are somewhat unstable, so it behooves Black to progress with as few disturbances as possible. In a more general sense: play it like a stealth game, don’t shoot people. However, the stealth is so demanding, and occasionally inconsistent on who can see Black through what cover, that it’s simply far easier and more enjoyable to go to town with the CornerGun or whatever else is lying around. This causes Red to berate you for being quick-tempered, a lunatic, or some combination of both insults.

Even Black’s melee takedown is considered to “kill” people, despite being a fairly harmless looking sucker punch to the back of the head. One time I even had Red berate me for how quick I turned to bullets, despite the fact that I punched someone. This wouldn’t be as much of a problem if the way the story branches wasn’t tied to things such as not being noticed or never going into combat. Sure, it’s possible to replay memories to reclaim missed collectibles or make another run at trying to get by using stealth, but it’s so frustrating that it hardly seems worth it.

For all intents and purposes, Get Even a B game through and through, with some clever ideas hidden under the slog of the encounters and unimportant choices. Your enjoyment would depend on if you’re willing to put up with its many faults. Although, and I’ll admit, even with all these caveats, I personally enjoyed my time with Get Even. It’s difficult to recommend without explaining the fact that it’s probably not a “good” game in many senses of the word, but if what’s written above doesn’t turn you completely off of it, there are worse ways to spend a weekend.

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