Get Even is like a playable episode of Black Mirror
Get Even's been knocking about in some shape or another since 2014, and in all that time it hasn't really been on my radar. Now, though, with only a handful of months until its release and having sampled the first hour of this first-person thriller, it most definitely is.
What, then, is Get Even? Its enigma and its ability to wrong-foot players are a large part of its appeal, so maybe it's best not to get too explicit here, but here are the basics; the work of Polish developer The Farm 51, it's since become a passion project for publisher Bandai Namco who's worked hard to help it over the line. You're Cole Black, an inmate in an abandoned asylum trying to piece together who he is - and, more importantly, what he's done - as he stumbles through his own memories in a narrative adventure that's enjoyably twisted.
The set-up might be hackneyed, though the execution is anything but. The Farm 51 worked last year on the harrowing and beautiful Chernobyl VR project, a work of respectful tourism and historical education, and its experience with bleak landscapes bleeds into Get Even's artfully drab backdrops. It's enhanced by composer Olivier Deriviere's darkly throbbing adaptive soundtrack, which reminded me of Thomas Bangalter's grim score for the movie Irreversible. There's a similar economy in how it builds a sense of gnawing unease.
Which is precisely what Get Even's built upon. It's a first-person game that places a gun in your hand, but one that invites you never to pull the trigger should you so desire - the real explosives are to be found in its barrage of twists and its eagerness to explore your own murky morals. Set-pieces skip freely from one time period to another as you work your way through the fragments of Black's memories, your choices impacting a story that's as much of a puzzle as the occasional challenges you find yourself up against.
With its vague sci-fi trappings - there are VR helmets that play part in the asylum's terrible experiments - there's something of Black Mirror, a morality tale told through the dangers of modern technology. It's delivered with no small amount of conviction either thanks to a mostly British voice cast that adds another layer of grit to Get Even's already grim world. It's enjoyably dark; at one point you're given a gun that can shoot around corners, a piece of technology so intoxicating it's impossible not to give its trigger a squeeze. Take down the target that's placed so temptingly in your sights, though, and you'll interrupt their phone call; on the other end you'll hear his partner ask innocently what they should give their kids for tea.
There's a knowing schlockiness to Get Even that bodes well. This is a resolutely AA title, the kind of which you might have thought extinct in recent times, and its 8-10 hour campaign is going to be priced accordingly. It's all for the better, really, as it gives Get Even a chance to find the broader audience I'm fairly sure it deserves. There's not much been said about Get Even throughout its development, but maybe that'll work out for the best too - this one really has the capacity to spring a surprise when it's out in May.