Platforms: Playstation 4 (reviewed), Windows, and Xbox One
With a constant news cycle and a general increase in the popularity of indie games, it’s hard to be surprised by a game these days. Get Even, from developer The Farm 51, bucks that trend in a very satisfying way. While rough around the edges, it delivers an intriguing, twist-laden story that kept me engaged from beginning to end.
Cole Black wakes up in an insane asylum with a strange device on his head. Over the intercom, a mysterious voice going by the name of Red tells you that you’re here for a special treatment. This treatment is going to help Black get his memories back. From this point on Get Even takes you down a rabbit hole that gets clear inspiration from films like Inception and Memento.
Going into memories of the events that led Black to his current predicament, you not only learn what happened but what kind of man he is. Is he a hero, cold-blooded killer, or something else entirely? Making choices while in the asylum and memories help to answer that question and give value to a second run through the game. You will also come to learn about the multiple other characters in the game’s plot including the mysterious Red. Each of these characters is very well written and get plenty of opportunity to make an impression. The use of multiple perspectives and a possibly unreliable narrator kept the twists coming constantly. Every time I thought I had it all figured out, a new wrinkle would be added that changed everything. The game slowly and cleverly shifts from its larger plot to something much more personal and relatable. This all builds to a powerful and emotional conclusion that I will be thinking about long past the credits.
To solve the many mysteries in the game, Black will use his phone and its many applications to investigate clues and puzzles in the environment. The clues range from notes to audio logs to recreations of conversations between the game’s many characters. As you collect them, a hub of sorts will become available to help piece together the many items and give the option to go back into levels to find what you missed. The puzzles can involve tracing heat signatures or using a UV light to find things hidden on the walls. While there are a couple interesting ones like finding a code hidden by a madman, the puzzles rarely required much thought and generally felt like annoying hindrances instead of fun brain teasers.
Get Even is a first-person shooter, but the actual shooting sections were the weakest parts of the game. Cool options like the “CornerGun” give some interesting approaches to combat, but the actual gunplay just wasn’t as tight as I would have liked. Stealth was strongly encouraged, but the lack of consistent AI behavior made it, at times, an exercise in frustration. Luckily, enemies go down quickly and these sections were never very long.
Visually the game is very dated and could easily pass for something you’d find on the previous console generation. Repeating environments and lack of a hard save option only add to that feeling. I spent a lot of time in later levels trying to navigate around knee high obstacles thanks to a lack of a jump button. Enemies would often end their routines staring at a wall. These issues were never more than minor annoyances but grew in number as the game’s ambition also grew during its climax.
Even with all of those complaints it was hard for me to put the game down. I pushed past the final aggravating encounters because the story of Black and Red was just that engrossing. The strong cast of characters and well-timed twists make Get Even the truest example of a diamond in the rough and one I highly recommend those with patience give a chance.