Yahtzee reviews Get Even.
Imagine my disappointment, listener. Hurm. Right, that's enough imagining, here's the real stuff. A new IP developed by *some* of the guys who worked on Painkiller, that's first person, and has guns in, and is called something that wouldn't look out of place as the title of a Jason Statham film? Clearly this will be some terribly exciting action murder fantasy with huge guns perched on the end of a stiffy big enough to impale an entire subway carriage full of eager milfs. Then I actually played it, and found that the chest-thumping bellicosity of the title had misled me, and the only chest thumping that took place was when the game thwacked me reproachfully across the nipples for wanting to kill things with the gun that it gave me for killing things with.
Get Even is an odd mishmash of elements, the kind of game that can only be described with a sentence beginning with the words 'sort of' and ending with the word 'thing'. As in "Sort of stealth action adventure thing" or "sort of sci-fi psychological thriller thing" or "I sort of pulled my trousers down to show you my thing".
The protagonist is named, and you might want to hold a fishing net in front of you or something because when you hear this your eyes might just roll right out of your head, Cole Black. He's a grizzled mercenary type bloke who sounds a bit like Sean Bean making out with a fat angry dog. He spectacularly fails to stop a teenage girl getting blown to bits and then wakes up in an abandoned asylum. The world of video games probably has special "Sorry to hear you woke up in an abandoned asylum" greeting cards it happens so bloody often.
With the help of a mysterious voice, Cole must use a third party VR helmet to explore his own buried memories and piece together the events leading up to him not saving a teenage girl from being blown to bits. But nothing is as it seems in the abandoned asylum, as should be expected of any game that introduces total immersion VR as a concept and refers to itself as 'psychological' in any way, so first you don't know if anything's real or simulated memory, and then you don't even know if the simulated memories are reliable, so trying to get your head around what actually happened is like looking for a fun size snickers in a cat litter box.
Get Even's gameplay suffers from a lack of discipline as it indecisively wanders around the buffet table, loading up its plate with spaghetti on one side, apple crumble on the other and pouring popcorn butter all over it. It started off reminding me of Condemned a little bit as we have to explore the run down asylum holding up our magic video game smartphone with the functionality of a Star Trek tricorder, taking pictures of evidence, but this turned out to be not much more than a collectibles element for filling out Cole Black's scrapbooking project.
Then we introduce a puzzle element where we use the thermal setting on our magic tricorder phone to follow an electrical wire to the correct fusebox, but I think this only gets used one more time in the whole game and it's to point us to a fusebox I was about to use anyway because I was already exploring every inch of the level to document every nondescript stain on the wall that's identical to every other nondescript stain except it makes the evidence detector go widdly wee.
Oh yes, and then a prisoner begs me to release him and a bit of text comes up to none-too-subtly inform me that my actions will have consequences. Of course they will. Walking across a room has consequences, the consequence is that I'm on the other side of the fucking room. I know what it really means, that we're strapping in for some of that branching narrative bullshit. So a short ways in when I randomly press an unlabelled button that lets all the crazy murderers out, I am informed that I am a bad person for doing so and not randomly pressing the other, identical unlabelled button that provides free breakfasts to poor schoolchildren and brings Scrambles the Wonderdog back to life. So now I have to worry about my decisions mattering, until about two thirds of the way through when we switch to a different character and they stop mattering.
Christ on a camping weekend, I wish Get Even's game design would put on its own magic VR memory machine, relive its first planning meeting and try to remember what its core element was supposed to be. I feel like there must have been three teams, one working on a stealth shooter, one on an atmospheric horror game and one on an episode of Taggart, and they all had a big after-work sex party and accidentally put on each other's trousers. Because the combat element is strangely elaborate considering that the rest of the game treats it like the vegan at the barbecue.
You might reasonably wonder why there's combat at all when we're just exploring VR memories, but don't worry, the game has an explanation ready that it wrote down on a piece of damp toilet tissue. You're subconsciously trying to hide the memories from scrutiny, okay, and conjured up soldiers from other memories or even books and films, Cole Black apparently reading nothing but Andy McNab novels which thinking about it makes a lot of sense. In reality, it's just a weak excuse for throwing in token gameplay, but it's doubly strange that the game would rip its trousers squeezing the combat in, and then tell you off for engaging with it.
It's actually got one or two interesting new ideas, like the gun for shooting around corners, and a whole lot of very uninteresting old ideas, like being able to sneak up behind dudes and pinch their buttocks to make them swoon with flirtatious shock. But make use of either of them and the game browbeats you about it as part of the abovementioned moral choice branching path thing. It's incredibly obnoxious because apparently nothing less than a complete ghost run will satisfy, no kills, no alerts. So when I'm spotted because the minimap lies about the length of the enemy's vision cones and the usual cockup cascade begins, the voice in my ear droningly threatens me with the bad ending because it apparently reflects poorly on Cole Black's moral character that he can't conceal himself behind a blade of grass. One too many cheat days, I suspect.
Yes, the game offers you the chance to redo the memories as much as you want until you do them right, and lays on the "are you really really REALLY sure you want to continue" prompts before getting the hammer of judgement out, but putting the effort in for the more positive outcomes would have required me to give a quarter cup of powdered birdshit for the characters, and that wasn't happening.
There's a lot of ACTING! going on in Get Even, which is not quite the same thing as acting. ACTING! is what amateur dramatics productions do when they've been informed there might be a casting agent in the audience. When I had pieced together the plot, I concluded it was about a bunch of unlikeable soap opera characters making long strings of stupid decisions, beginning with their haircuts and only going downhill from there.
In summary, then, Get Even is a bit of a mess, that fails to give its handful of interesting ideas enough room to grow because of the other five hundred things it was trying to do, it was like someone tried to raise baby ducks in a bag of pick and mix.
And besides, Cole fucking Black? You raise enough eyebrows naming your character Mr. Black without making their first name another thing that's black. Might as well have called him Edgeward Darkbottom.
- Get beaver: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
- What says it all is when you kill someone and the voice says "Stop treating this like a video game." You mean, like something fun?
- I always get even, which is a shame, because I always bet on odd