I’d like it to be known that I gave Get Even a chance. I closed my laptop, put on my headset, and shut off the lights. The only source of comfort came from the light bar on my DualShock 4 as I sought refuge from the insidious tenants of an insane asylum.
I was ready to be thrown into a psychological horror cross shooter and experience a terrifying world that I hoped to be thinking about for weeks. But that all came to a halt rather quickly, resulting in an adventure that is far more frustrating than it is amusing.
Get Even is equal parts horror and action shooter, but it does one genre much better than the other. The player is introduced to an insane asylum of sorts that houses a collection of colorful characters. This is where the game is at its best. A house full of unstable Jokers that could do anything at a moment’s notice left me with an uncomfortable feeling as I watched the map on my phone to get ready to head for the nearest exit. The game introduces an Outlast-like phone mechanic that includes gadgets – such as a heat-sensitive camera and UV lights that reveal footsteps and blood marks – to search for clues and uncover the mystery behind your character’s sudden memory wipe. Players travel to different time periods and settings in order to piece together the plot, which is where the shooter aspects come in. The game introduces the Cornergun early on which gives you the ability to snap your gun in half and shoot enemies around, you guessed it, corners.
Unfortunately, it takes a long time to line up a shot and the enemy AI constantly hides behind cover, resulting in a dull experience – not that the actual hip-firing mechanics feel any better. Get Even transports you to these memories while simultaneously forsaking the brilliant asylum that is the location where the bulk of the horror takes place. The many characters locked in with you provide some great banter and frightening scares as they run directly towards you or go off on a tangent about whatever madness haunts their minds. The developers should have set the entire game in the asylum a la Resident Evil 7 and the moments in which you travel to different times in your past only serve as an unneeded and boring distraction from the brilliance of the horror house.
Get the Hell Out
Get Even is one of those games that starts out really confusing from the get-go and just never becomes coherent. It’s a really annoying trend that seems to be popular in smaller titles. Throwing the player into the middle of a plot and then going hours before they have anything tangible to bite on is just frustrating. If the game isn’t fun to actually play and control on top of that, the player will lose focus and become uninterested. It feels like Get Even thinks its story is smarter than it really is. And it could be, but I wouldn’t know. It’s masked behind layers of exposition and confusing dialogue. How about starting at the beginning of the tale? Cole Black’s backstory is actually really interesting, and it would have worked better to see his past life from the very beginning before he got mixed up in a memory slave station. That would have been much more effective in an effort to connect the player’s emotions to the main character. And if it just got to the point much quicker. Three hours into a campaign I should not be asking: what the hell is going on?
In BioShock, the player is similarly thrown into a mysterious world that little is known about. But through Andrew Ryan’s classic speech near the beginning of the game, the player absorbs a good amount of information so as to build a base of knowledge to then grow and nurture throughout the rest of the adventure via audio logs, cut-scenes, and environmental storytelling. Get Even doesn’t have an Andrew Ryan introductory speech, instead opting to narrate the journey throughout the use of two characters that accompany Cole Black. And to make matters worse, the pair of characters constantly taunt Cole about his ignorance of the situation while drip-feeding him, meaning the player, information in small doses. Instead of stoking a fire that would get the player to voraciously scour and explore every corner of Get Even’s many environments, I felt frustrated and simply didn’t care about the fate of the main character. Especially when the developers give him an incredibly generic name. Who wants to save the world as “Cole Black?”
The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly
Having said all that, I would still recommend Get Even to the most hardcore of horror fans because it does provide a unique experience in its setting and narration. Get Even’s spectacular asylum and combination of gadgets and guns is a melding of mechanics and genres unlike anything I’ve ever played – but that’s the disappointing part. With a more coherent story and a focus on what it does best, Get Even could have been a breath of fresh air in the genre. There are so many individual aspects of the game that shine or those that would have worked with a bit more polish and development time.
Get Even is almost afraid of what it could have been, settling for a more traditional horror experience instead of becoming what it really wants to be. The genre has been healthy in recent months, but a wildly different approach is always welcome and Get Even only accomplishes that in fleeting moments.
Review code for Get Even provided by publisher. Reviewed on PS4. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here.