Get Even’s tale of revenge may have its share of bumps and bruises, but its engaging narrative is one that will stick with you long after you put down the controller
Get Even is a game I’ve had a close eye on ever since it was first announced back in 2014. After all, the game’s developer, Gliwice, Poland-based studio The Farm 51, was responsible for Deadfall Adventures, one of the first games I reviewed professionally here at Hey Poor Player. So I have to confess I feel a bit of nostalgia whenever I see their name attached to an upcoming title. And though the game fell off the radar for quite awhile following its announcement, I always held out hope that Get Even would deliver the goods when it finally found its way out of development limbo.
Now, three years after it was first announced, Get Even is upon us. Sadly, the game’s lengthy time spent in development is plain to see from the outset. Antiquated visuals, serious performance issues (at least on the Xbox One version of the game we were provided with for this review), and some irritating bugs can often mar the experience. Still, while The Farm 51’s latest release isn’t quite the spectacle it was originally billed to be, it’s still one of the more unique games to release this year. And its fragmented story of revenge and redemption is one that’ll stick with me for quite some time.
Don’t get mad…
The story of Get Even can best be described as a bizarre fusion of The Matrix, Days of our Lives, and Quantum Leap. It’s a trippy tale that has players bouncing around the shattered memories of Cole Black, a mercenary and hired gun through the use of a virtual reality headset called the Pandora. Over the course of the game’s campaign you’ll be transported to several key events in Cole’s life leading up to the kidnapping of a young girl in the English countryside that ends in an explosive tragedy.
You’ll need to be able to suspend your disbelief to get the most out of the tale that’s being told. The plot plunges into some pretty weird science. But once you dig in you’ll find the presentation of this story that’s perhaps Get Even‘s strongest asset. Full of unexpected twists and turns, it’s a stylish, intentionally disjointed narrative full of melodrama, conspiracies, and red herrings that will keep you on your toes. And while the insufferably gritty Cole Black is hard to relate to, The Farm 51 has still managed to weave a deep and emotional story that easily overshadows the game’s generic, cardboard commando of a protagonist.
Breaking the mold
Get Even‘s campaign offers a mix of both stealth-based exploration and combat. Between missions you’ll typically find yourself explore a crumbling asylum. During these segments the game feels a bit like a mash-up of Bloober Team’s Layers of Fear (read our review here) and Condemned: Criminal Origins. Basically, you’ll be scouring the derelict halls of the facility, solving simple logic puzzles and examining your surroundings to find documents and audio recordings to flesh out the events that brought you here, all while taking orders from the all-seeing Red, serves as both Cole’s prime motivator and constant antagonist.
When exploring the world, your trusty smartphone is an invaluable tool. It functions as a UV light that helps you find clues, enemy-tracking map, forensic scanner, and more. While these functions make sense, the phone also has some other, less conventional abilities. For instance, you can find outlines of vehicles, rubble, and other objects and conjure them into the environment to create extra cover, allowing you to sneak by patrolling guards and crazed inmates. It’s weird, but it works in the pseudo-VR context of the game.
All told, it’s the more methodical moments of the game that center around exploration that provide the most memorable moments of Get Even. The game is at its best when it’s immersing you in the story and mystery-filled world full of mercenaries, femme fatales, and shady corporate megalomaniacs. It’s when Get Even pulls you out of the story and throws you into its dull gunplay that things begin to fall apart.
While the game encourages stealthy play — a fact Red reminds you of ad nauseam — you’ll find that violence is the only path forward. I’m not opposed to soldiers of fortune – I usually savor the opportunity! The problem is that Get Even has some of the most weightless and frustrating shooter mechanics I’ve seen in years. Head shots should drop commandos in one hit, but that sometimes just doesn’t happen. While this wouldn’t normally be the end of the world, in Get Even it becomes a real nuisance. That’s because once you’ve been spotted, every single enemy on the map knows exactly where you are and will come running, forcing you to get into a plodding, unsatisfying firefight until every last baddie on the map has been reduced to shattered polygons.
The CornerGun, Cole’s prototype weapon that can, as the name implies, aim around corners while you spy on your targets your phone’s camera, is a novel concept. The problem is it’s often just as easy to step out of cover blast the brainless enemies, who all appear to be suffering from some serious cataracts. Combat does get more interesting towards the end of the game when you get some more interesting powers (no spoilers), but it takes quite a while to get there, and this portion of the game is a quick burn.
Of course, you can try to sneak your way through each area, spawning random obstructions with your phone to keep you concealed. The problem is doing so requires sticking to a very rigid path or risk having the full weight of the enemies come down on you. The way each map basically forces you to stick to a tightly-scripted course hurts the experience and makes progression feel almost robotic at times.
Settling the score
The clunky combat isn’t the only thing that holds Get Even back. During my time with the game I found it to suffer from some pretty serious performance issues. The most glaring of these problems was the game’s frame rate, which dips significantly during combat. This is especially problematic when lining up shots with your CornerGun’s camera, which can cause the frame rate to dip down into the low teens, turning the combat into a slide show. I also experienced a delightful crash back to my Xbox One’s dashboard the moment the game’s very lengthy ending cinematic kicked off, forcing me to make some lost progress before seeing the ending. On the plus side, it is one hell of an ending that you’ll want to experience for yourself. And with multiple endings and tons of hidden collectibles, the game encourages multiple playthroughs.
Get Even has its share of lumps. It’s a game that often feels like several disparate parts that don’t quite get along at times. Despite these issues, I found it nearly impossible to put down the controller because I was totally immersed in the story it was trying to tell. Though the combat is dated and the game suffers from some frustrating technical hiccups (at least on the Xbox One version we reviewed), not too many games have stuck with me after the closing credits in quite the same way Get Even has. If you’re looking for the next big shooter, you’re certainly not going to find that here. However, if you enjoy surreal psychological thrillers with a healthy dose of gritty black ops melodrama, you might find what you’re looking for with Get Even.
Final Verdict: 3/5
Full disclosure: This review is based on a copy of Get Even given to Hey Poor Player by the Publisher.