Get Even follows the story of Black, a man who wakes up in an asylum with a VR headset attached called the Pandora to his head. A mysterious figure only known as Red tells him that Black came to the asylum with faint memories of failing to save a girl with a bomb strapped to her chest. With the help of his captor Red, Black must relive his memories to discover the events that lead up to the bomb blast and discover the girl’s identity.
Warning: Spoilers ahead, skip to last paragraph to avoid
Get Even is one part psychological thriller and one part Greek tragedy. While the game is advertised to be about Black, the actual story is about his captor Red. The story does not start out strong at all and makes me question the wisdom of letting players take on the role of the supporting character for most of the game. Black is a difficult character to empathise with, as he feels a bit like a blank slate that is purely obsessed with understanding the events that lead up to the blast. As soon as players start feeling a connection to Black, it feels like the carpet is pulled out from under the player as Robert “Red” Ramsay is introduced as the main character. Suddenly, players need to develop an emotional connection all over again.
Compared to Black, Red is a much easier character to empathise or even sympathise with. Red and his wife struggle with very mundane issues like fertility, parenthood, and work/life balance in a surrealistic world where Red is developing the cutting-edge Pandora VR headset that allows the user to explore and relive memories. His story is a classic Greek tragedy mixed with the mad scientist trope; a man who starts with nothing, gains everything, only to lose everything because of his own personal obsession with his scientific work.
While a bulk of the story is delivered through the dialogue between Black and Red, copious amounts of extra details can be found in the evidence collected throughout the levels. Documents, images, and audio recordings all help to flesh out the smaller details in the game. The extra information was a terrific addition to help connect the dots for the memories, but fell short in the asylum area. The asylum itself plays a rather minor role in the overall plot, serving more as a travel hub than an actual setting. All the content about the asylum and who was running the show there felt more like a distraction, and I think the efforts could have been better spent on the rest of the story.
The Spoiler Free Conclusion
Get Even is decently written, although it has its weaknesses. The plot feels like it is being pulled in one direction, only to be suddenly yanked in another. The pacing starts a bit slow, but really picks up to a frenzied pace by the end. The beginning of the story is definitely the weakest, but it is quite easy to forget about it considering the game’s strong finish. The writers have created a compelling plot with rock solid dialogue and a main character that is easy to empathise with.
Get Even’s biggest weakness is its gameplay. It is part walking simulator and part FPS with stealth options. The walking simulator serves as the game’s so-called investigation gameplay, but there really isn’t much investigation at all. Players simply need to wander around the area until they find all the necessary evidence items so they can move on. It’s a shame that the developers opted for such dull delivery of the investigation mechanics as there are a few classic adventure game style puzzles that were included and almost all of them were really good.
Combat seems to be discouraged in the game for story reasons, but Get Even is still a serviceable, if not a rather bland FPS. Enemy AI is average at best. The gunplay is rather dull for most of the game. The weapon platform that distinguishes Get Even from other games is the CornerGun, based on the Israeli CornerShot platform. A pistol, submachine gun, or carbine can be loaded into front of the device, which can then be aimed around the corner with the lean button. Each level will have a suppressed pistol loaded in the CornerGun, which can then be replaced with battlefield pick ups. If players collect all evidence in a level, other weapons can be provided at the beginning of a level. The CornerGun allows players to engage enemies from behind cover. Get Even leans towards the realistic end of the spectrum, meaning cover is a must if players plan on surviving a firefight for any length of time. I found the CornerGun to be a fun toy, but a little too fiddly to be relied on heavily. It takes an extra half second to flip the front of the gun and getting reoriented afterwards can take a second. I found those extra split seconds simply took too long in a heated firefight and using a weapon traditionally was much easier. On the other hand, the gun works a bit better for stealth oriented players as it allows players to pop off a silenced shot around a corner without risking detection.
Get Even’s combat finally becomes interesting during the last three levels of the game when the CornerGun is dropped in favour of the Savant abilities. There are no reloads in these levels. Players have to assimilate enemies to get their first weapon, and then either assimilate more or do a battlefield pickup to get a fresh weapon. Additionally, players are able to teleport to pre-determined positions, causing enemies to momentarily lose sight of the players and buying themselves a few precious moments of breathing space. The abilities and the lack of really breathe some life into an otherwise generic shooter as it requires a new set of tactics beyond the usual duck into cover and pick off enemies until they are all dead.
The stealth mechanics is very bare, lacking the gunplay’s final flourish of the Savant abilities. Players can see the location of enemies and their cone of sight using the map on their cellphone and later, their Savant scan. There are a couple anomalies scattered around the map that can be spawned in to provide some cover to avoid the enemies gaze, but the game lacks any abilities for luring enemies off their path short of using the character’s own body. The levels are designed where there is often only one or two good ways to get through an area undetected.
The level design is extremely linear. Once in a while, the map may have a side area or two that holds a bit of evidence to be discovered, but otherwise it is a move from point A to B deal. The asylum areas have to be the weakest of the level, serving as a transport hub between levels with really poor jump scares from time to time. After the first insane patient with a crowbar tries to run the player down, the rest become a rather dull moment of déjà vu.
The controls are decent for the most part. Get Even uses the standard FPS controls with some extra buttons thrown in for navigating the smartphone. I found the phone controls to be a bit clunky without having ample keys to hotkey different apps. The phone constantly needs to be out to check the map and look for evidence. Having to constantly cycle between the phone and weapon is annoying, but at least it becomes less of an issue when using the CornerGun, which has its own phone attached to the side. Also, I found the camera scanner to be a bit fussy at times, requiring the player to stand at the exact spot to properly scan the item.
Get Even provides a good visual experience. The textures and animations are solid. The game does suffer from some annoying texture popping issues when a level is initially loaded. It usually does not detract from the game, but there are certain points where multiple loads will occur as the player jumps from one level to another as part of the storytelling where the texture popping persists. The game’s art style is realistic with a touch of near future technology that is extremely believable. The Red’s memory set pieces are absolutely gorgeous.
Get Even was one of the few FPS titles that triggered my motion sickness. Something about how the camera moves while the character crouch walks combined with needing to view the world and the in-game smartphone at the same time did not sit well with me. While I don’t hold it against the game, those who also suffer from video game induced motion sickness may want to avoid using stealth through the entire game for their own sake.
The audio experience is probably Get Even’s strongest suit. The soundtrack is excellent. The voice actors also deliver a great performance. Jo Stone-Fewings as Red is probably one of the strongest performances in a video game I have experienced in 2017. His delivery nails all the right emotional buttons and plays a huge role in developing that much needed emotional connection to Red.
The sound effects are solid, but the Auro-3D technology they use really takes the whole experience to the next level with a pair of headphones. It easily goes toe to toe with Dolby Atmos, and the developers put Auro-3D to good use in the game. The soundstage was fantastic. I could pick out the direction of footsteps and gunfire with almost laser like accuracy, creating a real sense of immersion.
Get Even is a short and flashy game. The visual experience is solid. The story starts out slow, but becomes enchanting when it finally finds its stride. The audio experience is fantastic. It is just a shame that the entire experience is bogged down by its dull, generic gameplay. Combined with the fact the game can be beaten in six to eight hours depending on the player, it is hard to recommend Get Even, especially at full price. Get Even is ideal for players who are looking for a story rich experience, but do wait until the game goes on sale.
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