Each year I come across a game I know little about and expect nothing from, yet it turns out to be just what I was looking for. More often than not, it isn’t from a AAA developer, nor has there been that much press covering it either. I call games like this sleeper titles, and Get Even has already taken its place as my 2017 sleeper hit.
It starts by placing you in an abandoned and derelict building, graffiti lining its walls and wooden boards barricading its windows. You receive a message on your phone: “Save the girl.” As you exit the building and enter the courtyard, rubbish and overgrown greenery surrounds you. The skies are dark and depressing. A military drone flies overhead, mercenaries patrol in front.
You sneak your way past you enter yet another building, still just as confused as when you started. You progress slowly, breathing heavily, listening out for sounds of movement, until you enter an underground bunker. A teenage girl sits in the middle, crying, surrounded by two mercenaries. You take them out and approach the hostage, but notice the timer on her chest, counting down. With seconds left you attempt to enter the code, but in the final moments the screaming intensifies and the screen turns white.
You awaken moments later in yet another overgrown and unkempt field, more derelict buildings before you. You receive another text instructing you to enter Building B, and it is here that the story of Get Even truly begins.
You learn soon into the game that your name is Cole Black. You’re a former mercenary with a history of alcohol abuse and, up until recently, a gunman for hire. Everything else is unclear – who the girl in the chair was, what you were doing trying to save her and the reason for the kidnapping in the first place. As you proceed, what starts as a kidnapping slowly uncovers a backstory of corporate espionage as you try to piece together what exactly is going on.
The story in Get Even takes place between both the present and recent past, in a fashion not dissimilar to last year’s Quantum Break (coincidentally, my sleeper hit of 2016). Using what’s known as the Pandora (think modern day VR) you revisit memories to make sense of the events leading up to and resulting in the kidnapping explosion. These memories are accessed through pictures that are scattered throughout the asylum, where the present-day game is based. It is this asylum that truly gives Get Even its distinct and captivating feel.
The run down and abandoned asylum is almost a character in itself, and is what sets Get Even apart from other run-of-the-mill FPS psychological thrillers. Equipped with only a smartphone and pistol, you slowly make your way through the asylum, your character breathing heavily, combined with sound of sharp crescendos, just waiting for something to happen, but at the same time, hoping not. The Farm 51 have done a great job in combining sound effects, music and setting to create a truly eerie experience.
In addition to the main story arc, the asylum itself presents its own plot in the form of the Puppet Master. Little is known about who it is, apart from diary entries and messages painted on the walls. Then there’s the mannequins which are placed throughout the asylum. These, combined with the occasional chanting of “the party” and “the puppet man”, embarrassingly caused me to turn on the lights in my room as the suspense proved too great. It’s that double-edged sword with thrillers – you want to move on and explore, but at the same time are truly terrified to do so.
I mentioned memories earlier, and this is how the past events of Get Even take place. As you proceed through the asylum, an unknown character referred as Red constantly watches over and guides you. Wearing the Pandora device, he forces you to explore past memories to uncover the truth. These memories take place across multiple locations and time frames, and within them you’ll find newspaper clippings, posters, recordings and other evidence to try and piece together what really went on.
While very little combat takes place in the asylum, things change slightly during your memories. Get Even introduces a weapon known as the CornerGun that allows you to shoot around, well, corners. Combat in Get Even is relatively simple, and while the option for stealth or full-guns blazing is up to you, you’ll find moving slowly and picking off your targets is the best way to progress. When you get caught you can usually wait it out until your enemies call off the chase and return to their usual patrols. On the odd occasion they’ll try and flank you, but not always — think Deus Ex, just not as well implemented. Early in the game you’re told that killing enemies will impact the game and how you’re perceived, but it’s never properly explained nor are the consequences displayed. In all honesty, Get Even’s strength lies not in its combat but more-so in the detective element and suspense-creation, and that’s really where the most fun is had.
I’m not a massive fan of thrillers, but there was something about this game that pulled me in, even during a relatively short preview opportunity. The asylum setting and the combination of both sound effects and music work fantastically to create incredible suspense that proves both frightening yet engaging at the same time. There’s a great satisfaction in scouring and exploring each room or environment for evidence and clues, whether in the past or present, to understand exactly why you’re here and what went wrong. Combat well and truly takes a back seat to this game and deservedly so, forming as means to progress as opposed to a core gameplay mechanic.
There are only a handful of titles that I come across that I would truly recommend gamers to experience — Get Even is one such example. If you enjoyed titles like Quantum Break and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, with an element of thriller thrown in, you’re sure to enjoy this.
Get Even was reviewed using a promotional code on Xbox One, as provided by the publisher. Click here to learn more about Stevivor’s scoring scale.