Get Even flew under the radar rather heavily and this review may just be the first time that you have heard about it. The game received little to no marketing and it has a lower price point attached to it. So just what is this mysterious game with the strange name? Well, that question is rather complicated. It is a game of failed identity that falls into many of the trappings of “low budget” titles, but it does such a wonderful job in its other aspects that it makes the experience polarising for the player. Equally loving and hating it during its 12-hour runtime. These statements leave a lot to unpack, so let us do just that.
Whoa Black Betty
You are placed in the shoes of a man called Black, who after trying to save a teenage girl who was taken hostage and had a bomb strapped to her chest, suddenly loses all of his memories and wakes up in a desolate mental asylum. All he can remember is that he needs to save the girl, but his sudden onset amnesia makes it extremely difficult to piece together exactly what led him up to this point. He wakes up with a strange device on his head and a mysterious figure called Red appears before him and tasks him with reliving his memories through pictures in order to figure out exactly what happened that got him in this situation.
The game follows this unravelling mystery of who exactly the girl was, what was Black doing trying to save her, and what were the motivations of the people who took the girl hostage. At first, the narrative looked like it was filled with tropes, especially the one of the amnesia-laden hero seeking answers and the plot of revenge. However, the game takes some strange and very unique turns that ultimately end up making the story engrossing. Black’s frustrated confusion is mirrored by the player controlling him also not knowing what is going on but as things present themselves, all of the puzzle pieces start coming together to make a satisfying and invested tale of tragedy, redemption, revenge and revelations. It is also very gritty and sometimes extremely dark, with the story of the mental asylum being particularly unsettling to the point where it almost crosses into horror.
The narrative of Get Even definitely carries its strongest features. During the mid to final acts, you will be itching to find out what happens next and be on the edge of your seat. The game is also very choice-driven where you determine the fates of some people and even your actions in combat can dictate how the story goes. Many of these choices can have a significant impact on the conclusion of the story as well as some scenes that will be completely different. The game focuses a lot of its narrative on collectable pieces of evidence that are scattered around the world that almost functions like a game such Condemned. You’re going to have to do some reading in order to understand some of the context. Thankfully the collectable evidence is short, punchy and lends a lot to the sculpting of the narrative which makes it enjoyable to read a bunch of papers on desks.
The narrative of Get Even definitely carries its strongest features.
There’s also the fact that the characters are hugely interesting with Black and Red being two very differing personalities (like the names didn’t give it away) and the supporting cast you meet along also carry their own uniqueness and intrigue to them. They’re also voiced pretty well with a lot of emotion and effort being put into the delivery that would essentially rival many AAA titles out there. It’s not exactly the best narrative in the world, but it does such a solid and often surprising job that experiencing it is quite a treat. If only the gameplay was this solid, we would have something great here.
Get even more bored
The best way to describe the gameplay of Get Even would be “mediocre 2009 first person shooter”. It is so stuck in old methods and is so generic with how it goes about it that the gameplay just feels like an endless slog. You have your traditional two gun slots, but with zero other accessories along with it. You get a gun that can shoot around corners without enemies being able to see you, which sounds pretty cool albeit not entirely new, but it is made almost entirely redundant by how the game wants you to play.
Essentially, the correct way to go about the combat is to not shoot or kill any enemies at all. You are constantly berated whenever you shoot enemies and if you shoot enough of them, it’s game over. The combat only really takes place during Black’s memory recalls and he does these recalls with the help of the aforementioned device that is strapped to his head which is actually a VR memory device. The motivation for you not killing anyone is that it can “corrupt the memory that you’re trying to recall” and killing must be used as a last resort.
The best way to describe the gameplay of Get Even would be “mediocre 2009 first person shooter”.
Alright, so the other option is surely stealth. What tools do you have at your disposal to be as stealthy as possible? Nothing. You need to hide behind walls and just try to not be spotted. Black uses a very advanced phone that is capable of scanning evidence with real-time feedback, has a heat sensor, UV flashlight and a map of his surroundings that includes the location of the enemies. None of these help except the map and if I’m going to praise a mini-map, then you’re sorely mistaken.
So all of the combat encounters end up being exactly the same. Sneak around a bunch of enemies in the most obvious way possible. There is no level variation at all so don’t expect any vents, hiding in closets or anything of the traditional stealth game fare. It’s simply staying out of cones of vision and heading to the other side of the map. The “combat” encounters are so pointless that I have on more than one occasion just run past everything to get to the exit, not caring if anyone spots me because all combat ceases once you open a single door.
Outside of the combat, the game also focuses on puzzles. However, these are simple “backtrack to find a combination” puzzles that don’t really do much outside of just halting progress for a little bit. Some puzzles are clever, often having satisfying solutions that involve the usage of UV lights or the heat sensor, but these are overshadowed by the more simplistic puzzles that just task you to backtracking in order to push a button.
However, the gameplay was not fun whatsoever. Zero variation, dumb AI and completely uninspiring level design killed any potential enjoyment from it. The shooting was deficient and boring at best. The game could have been a walking simulator with some puzzles and it would have been better off. There is a lot of missed potential here and if the gameplay was more refined and had an actual goal as to what it wanted to be, it would have made the experience much more palatable.
Get evened out
Get Even doesn’t just take its combat inspiration from 2009, it also took its visuals. For a game on the current generation of consoles to look like it was meant for the Xbox 360 and still have framerate problems and technical hiccups along with it, is almost impressive. You will see pop-in, various visual glitches and bad textures all over the place. The soundtrack is also pretty inconsistent. Sometimes it’s absolutely wonderful and creates this very cutting atmosphere, but other times it just completely fails and becomes overpowering. The soundtrack had the potential to be one of the other standout features of the game, but they decided to put overpowering Inception horns randomly into places where you’re doing nothing.
You can clearly see that Get Even had a day-and-night reaction from me. The narrative, characters, voice cast along with the intrigue and mystery was done so gracefully that I’d even consider it one of the standout stories of this year. It’s one of the better psychological thrillers out there with an extremely complex and fleshed out storyline. However, it was so badly developed from a gameplay and technical standpoint that it was a frustrating and exhausting experience to get through. I want to say that Get Even is worth your time and money, but then I remember back to the times where I hugged a wall for three minutes and then my recommendation gets pulled back.
A wonderful experience ruined by poor design and baffling gameplay decisions. Get Even is still worth a shot, even with all of these problems, just to experience the story, but I’d highly recommend you wait for a sale and pick it up for even cheaper than it already is.