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Get Even Review (PS4): A surprising and chilling first-person mystery

We review Get Even for the PS4, a mature story-driven title that’s part FPS, part survival horror game, with an intriguing plot and some smart mechanics to help it stand out from the crowd.

With a name like ‘Get Even’, I figured I knew straightaway what to expect with this PS4 first-person shooter, before the game even finished installing. Burly man is aggrieved in some way. Burly man guns down hundreds of generic soldiers, before taking down an inexplicably near-indestructible boss character. Game over.

I couldn’t be happier to confirm that these low expectations were immediately smashed to bits, in no time at all. Get Even’s developers have a clear focus on story and atmosphere over mindless violence, which is certainly refreshing compared with most other titles.

You’re thrust into the shiny army boots of one Cole Black, a mercenary for hire who takes on dangerous contracts for buckets of cash. So far, so pretty generic, although Cole does have the serious advantage of sounding a bit like Jason Statham. Which of course meant we imagined running through that first mission topless and smothered in baby oil.

As the game begins, Cole is tracking down a kidnapped girl in a derelict building. This opening scene acts as an effective tutorial, while also setting the atmosphere perfectly. Lesser games would have you simply gunning your way through the rancid hallways until you finally rescued the damsel in distress. Instead, Cole must sneak around while carefully searching for clues to the girl’s whereabouts, using his trusty mobile phone.

Like any good smartphone, this device offers up loads of handy features which you’ll need to progress through the game. You can of course receive text messages and other notifications from contacts, while the mobile also doubles as a flashlight, UV sensor, analysis tool and in-game map. This map helpfully reveals the location of any nearby enemies, so you can use it to stay undetected, a la Metal Gear Solid.

After the opening segment, Cole finds himself trapped in some kind of run-down mental health facility with a slightly terrifying machine strapped to his noggin. His captor is the mysterious Red, who communicates with him via the many TVs scattered throughout the rancid halls and rooms. At first it seems like Red simply wants to play sordid mind games with our hero, yet as the story progresses, his – or her – motivations are gradually revealed.

We soon learn that the aforementioned head machine has the power to transport Cole directly into physical manifestations of his own memories. With Red’s help, you have to enter these memories and try and piece together Cole’s forgotten past. It’s a great gimmick and works fantastically, leading to some truly stunning and mesmerising visuals. Levels literally unravel and reconfigure themselves, all while the hapless mercenary curses and spits desperate threats.

Inside of these memories, a large part of Get Even’s gameplay involves thoroughly exploring each location with your handset, seeking out and collecting evidence. These sections reminded me somewhat of the quieter moments in Condemned: Criminal Origins (an absolute gem of a game). Like Condemned, this game also features some absolutely brutal moments. And because combat is surprisingly rare, they have considerably more impact than similar situations from the likes of Call of Duty.

Completionists will be happy to hear that you can replay these sections as often as you like, from the game’s hub area. In this way you can find every last scrap and have it all neatly presented for you on the hub’s virtual walls, which is a really neat touch.

Occasionally in the memory sections you’ll have to deal with a group of foes, although you often have a choice of action. Either you can try and sneak on by to get where you’re headed, or you can whip out Cole’s impressive corner gun to take them out. The corner gun is amazing fun to use, with the ability to fire in pretty much any direction – thus leaving you safe behind cover during particularly hairy battles.

Impressively, Get Even tries to steer you towards the more peaceful, less bloody option of sneaking around. For every person that you snuff out, the memory gets more ‘hazy’. Your vision starts to get screwy and even your mobile begins to malfunction, although you’re generally okay to take down a handful of enemies without much repercussion.

That won’t appease anyone who’s after manic gunfire and buckets of blood, of course, but it’s an admirable approach. It’s just a shame that the sneaking around elements can be rather frustrating, with enemies spotting you from afar even when you’re crouched deep in shrubbery. Some pretty uneven save point gaps can result in frustration too, as you end up replaying large segments because one guy spotted you after twenty to thirty minutes of inch-perfect shadow running.

Despite those peaceful proclivities, Get Even is still very much a mature title, with a capital M and a big, fat exclamation point at the end. Not just because Cole utters the F-word in pretty much every sentence, either. The dark, brooding atmosphere is rather intense, especially as you stagger around the crumbling asylum. You see, you aren’t alone in there. The place is filled with seemingly forgotten patients from another era, which leads to some effective jump scares and plenty of tense confrontations.

Get Even’s impressive audio adds massively to that tension. The other inmates cry out for help, scream obscenities and even indulge in some sinister chanting, all of which proves perfectly unsettling as you creep through the darkened corridors. These moments feel straight out of a survival horror game, so are best played with the lights out and headphones on.

We won’t discuss any more of the story, as to do so would be to spoil the experience. However, the mystery plays out in a satisfying and intriguing fashion, keeping you glued to your controller for the majority of the dozen hours or so it takes to complete the game. If you’re after a cerebral gaming experience with a hearty dose of horror thrown in, Get Even is a solid – and surprising – choice.

Check out our round-up of the best mobile horror games if you fancy a scary experience on your iPhone, iPad or Android device, as well as our favourite games that f*ck with your head.

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