Cole Black is a man without much knowledge of who he is. His fragmented memories recall shadows of a traumatic history, but no idea about what they mean, when they happened, or if they are even real. All he knows – or thinks he knows – is that his mission to save a kidnapped woman ended in the detonation of a bomb strapped to her chest.
There is more to this tragedy, but Cole is unable grasp it. Confined within an asylum, he is guided through resurfaced memories via the use of an advanced VR system called Pandora that is strapped to his head. With no way to remove the device or discern how much of what he is seeing is real, he has little choice but to follow the instructions of a disembodied voice that guides him forward, claiming the truth will soon be revealed.
Get Even is a game that defies classification. It's part first-person shooter and part suspense thriller meets survival horror, but there is a lot more going on here. What drives the game is the Pandora. Not only is it permanently attached to Cole, but it can put him inside the memories of others, and from there, allows him to directly act as them. Each of these memories provides more context for Cole’s current predicament, but also changes up the gameplay.
When we first start the game, we are presented with a bog-standard stealth FPS. This changes with the introduction of the asylum, which has a very survival-horror vibe, and each memory Cole interacts with alters the core experience in subtle but interesting ways. Cole is armed with various weapons, but his most powerful tool is his smartphone. Not only is it Cole’s map and flashlight, but it is vital for solving various puzzles, using either its infrared camera or scanning ability.
The puzzles tend to be simple – item hunts, for example – but many will not become apparent until the correct app is active on Cole's phone. There are some pacing issues with how the puzzles are meshed into the narrative, but they are a nice diversion from the shooting.
Given The Farm 51 is steeped in action FPS games, you would expect the shooting here to be solid. Sadly, this is not the case. The Painkiller studio has added some flourishes to standard FPS combat, but the fundamentals are well below par. Gunplay is stale, with ill-defined hit boxes and weapons that all feel underpowered and unwieldy. Enemy AI dogpiles on the shortcomings by being the most braindead I have experienced in a long time: enemies either don't notice you, don't react to being shot, or run right past you to find cover in the oddest places.
There are a few redeeming features though. First up is the corner-gun, as the name informs you, it can shoot around corners or over cover thanks to its hinged barrel and utilizing your phone as a remote scope. Perhaps the most interesting feature though plays on the VR conceit of the game. Cole is not actually in these locations (is he?), they are recreated memories. As such, he has some ability to manipulate the environment, as using his scanner app, he can see differences between the simulation and the raw memory. These differences tend to be items that have not been rendered in the simulation, and you can scan a missing item to bring it into the simulation. This can provide additional cover, or in other circumstances be used to solve a puzzle.
Thankfully, combat really isn’t what the game is about. This is a first-person narrative, with an emphasis on discovery of the game world, and Cole himself. The writing can be a little tone-deaf in places, and some of the dialogue can be unintentionally awkward. But the use of the immersive interactive memories and the flexibility of their realities helps the game to feel fresh, even if the execution is not always on point.
The story always has you wanting to know more, and the final stage of the game is literally a game changer. I will say no more, but for all its short-comings and inconsistencies, the story and its resolution are top-notch, and well worth the price of admission. This is a mystery game where you feel like you are actively unravelling the truth, and every revelation feels not only well-earned, but also rewarding.
My initial review was a lot more negative. In fact, it was scathing. I played the vast majority of the game on my PS4 Pro, and it was a generally unpleasant experience. Frame rate issues currently abound on that platform, and various minor technical faults like clipping and awful collision detection ruined the game for me. I was never able to consistently hit 30 frames per second on the PS4, and this created a lot of frustration and nausea, effectively killing any chance I had of enjoying the combat.
I hope these issues can be patched, and that a PS4 Pro version can also be added, as the game is certainly not a looker. Also, being an Unreal Engine 3 game it should run a hell of a lot better than it does. Thankfully, the PC code unlocked before I submitted my final review, and it saved me from lambasting a game that deserves better.
On PC I was running at 4K with every bell and whistle activated. While it’s still not an overly pretty game, it ran at a solid 60 frames throughout. At 1440p I was hitting more than 100 frames consistently. On PC, the game seems to have far fewer of those physics and collisions issues I fought my way through on PS4. Get Even deserves an audience, but until it is patched, I can in no way endorse anyone playing the PS4 version. It's worth checking out on PC, provided expectations are kept at a reasonable level.