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Get Even review

A bleak, gritty revenge thriller that can’t decide what kind of game it wants to be

Our Verdict

A messy, unfocused mishmash of genres with a few smart ideas.

Need to know

What is it? A psychological thriller with some psychological shooting.
Expect to pay £25/$30
Developer The Farm 51
Publisher Bandai Namco
Reviewed on GTX 1070, Intel i7-5820K, 16GB RAM
Multiplayer None
Link Official site

Cole Black doesn’t know who he is or why he’s trapped in a creepy asylum where the patients all wear weird VR headsets. And, by extension, neither do you. This is a game about a man piecing his fragmented jigsaw puzzle of a brain together, and the revelations come thick and fast: about your past, your flaws, and about the girl you see dying in an explosion in the prologue. It’s a twisting labyrinth of a plot, with some interesting beats and a lot of quite hokey, predictable ones. But the problem with Get Even isn’t really the story itself, but how it's told to you.

The asylum is a hub of sorts. You wander its grimy, dilapidated hallways, occasionally having to kill aggressive patients who lunge at you from the shadows, guided by an unseen man who seems to be studying you. Black’s increasingly frustrated demands to be told what’s going on are ignored or brushed off, making you feel just as bewildered as he is. But as you explore the asylum you find photographs that will gradually fill the empty hole in his brain with simulations of memories. Interact with a photo and you relive, and get to play for yourself, a distinct moment in Black’s life.

It’s when you dive into his fractured subconscious that things get shooty, triggering a mutation from slow exploration and survival horror-style puzzles to unremarkable gunplay and stealth. The shooting and sneaking feel rough and unpolished for the most parts, despite the best efforts of the extremely silly, but rather entertaining, Corner Gun. As its ludicrous name suggests, you can use this high-tech weapon to shoot around corners. Hit Q or E and it’ll poke its little head around cover, letting you shoot people via a live camera feed. It’s videogamey as hell, but I kinda like that about it.

But once the novelty wears off you’re left with a basic, lumbering FPS with dim AI and a grim, overly earnest personality. Get Even is at its best when the focus shifts to exploration and atmosphere. The environments are drab, dreary mazes of corridors, but there’s some nice world-building in the form of police reports and other documents to fill out the story. Less successful are the constant tonal shifts. One minute it’s drifting into horror, but never quite pulling it off, and the next you’ve put a detective hat on and are scanning for clues at a crime scene like you're in a police procedural.

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There's genuine ambition and imagination on display in Get Even

As a result, Get Even feels like someone has clumsily hammered a dozen different games together, and the result is a constant feeling of rambling incoherence. It’s a true master of none, trying its hand at so many different genres and styles that none of them feel like they were given as much care and attention as they perhaps needed. Which is a shame, because there’s some genuine imagination and invention going on here. I like how you regularly flick between different apps on your phone, for example using the UV light to show up hidden footprints, or the map to see where an enemy is looking. It’s integrated well and intuitive to use.

And there are some nice little touches, like the enemy I killed who dropped his phone, through which I could hear his concerned wife wondering what happened to him. And I like the way you can conjure up cover and alternate paths with the scanner. I won’t bother explaining how this works, because it’s nonsense. Just know that being able to spirit a van or a wall out of thin air when someone’s shooting at you is often very handy. But for every little spark of brilliance, there’s a lot of boring wandering, puzzling, and shooting to slog through. And I never found myself really caring about Black, which dampened the effect of some of the story’s twists and turns. His voice is great, though. More gruff northern protagonists, please.

There’s genuine ambition and imagination on display in Get Even, and I wish I liked it more than I do. But I feel like it would have been better, and more focused, without the first-person combat—or at least a lot less of it. I’m compelled to learn more about Black’s past as I play, but then I have to kill or sneak past some guys and everything grinds to a halt. A confusing tangle of a game, then, but the mystery-laden storyline might just be enough to pull you through some of the weaker action moments.

The Verdict
Get Even

A messy, unfocused mishmash of genres with a few smart ideas.

If it’s set in space, Andy will probably write about it. He loves sci-fi, adventure games, taking screenshots, Twin Peaks, weird sims, Alien: Isolation, and anything with a good story.