‘Tis the season to be jump-scared, fa-lalalala, lala la la.
One of the possible ways to review this game is a content warning list, thus: Content warning for jump-scares, player-gaslighting, violence to children, dolls (dismembered), discussion of obsolete (and violent) treatments for mental health.
As someone who loves the world and stories set in The Secret World, the reveal of The Park – a single player experience set in the universe of that game – is something I am massively in favour of. The Park doesn’t need you to have played TSW to play it, though if you have done the mission set centred around the same park location in the game, the setup and some of the backstory will be familiar to you. (It’s not *necessary*, or even a plot point, to know that the park is built on a Indian Burial Ground and influenced by the Illuminati, but it does explain a lot). It’s a slow paced horror game, kind of, based around a woman – Laura – who has lost her child. The interactions in the world are move, toggle run, left click to interact, right click to shout for your son. Shouting – which gets more intense as the game gets on – results in a sonic clue as to which direction to aim for, and a visual bubble like a lens over the next interactive object. There’s no combat, no puzzles, and the closest thing to a failure state is three achievements (out of 14) that require specific action (finding an object, etc.) rather than following the game.
The story is interesting, and disturbing. It uses the medium well, but if you don’t like your pacing slow, your tension high, and your ability to shoot things limited to screenshots, it’s not going to be your thing.
It ends in a very dark place (probably. The ending isn’t… conclusive, but it’s not nice), and the journey to get there is winding, but it clocks in at between 70-90 minutes playtime. None of that’s filler, though. There’s no going back and forth with objects, no reloads for combat retries, no arbitrary game-over screens; it sets out to tell you a story though an interactive diorama, and it succeeds – in my opinion – very well.
There’s a long list of people I’d not recommend this game to – anyone who uses the word “walking simulator” as a pejorative; anyone who flinches at anything in the content warning – but if any of the above sounds like Your Thing, it’s about 8 quid for an experience that I’d recommend.
(Plus, anything that keeps Funcom afloat at the moment is good for my long term ability to play The Secret World…)