The Park Reviews

AuthorReview
Mr Velezbian
315,770 (214,698)
Mr Velezbian
TA Score for this game: 1,029
Posted on 03 May 16 at 14:18
This review has 14 positive votes and 1 negative vote. Please log in to vote.
THE PARK
THE MIND CAN BE A SCARY THING

The Park is an interesting game about a trip to an amusement park gone horribly wrong. Single mother Lorraine and her son Callum visit Atlantic Island Park, a local amusement park with a dark history and even darker secret. Following cues from other recent first person immersive experiences like Gone Home, The Park is a one to two hour trippy thrill ride. What started as an experiment for developer Funcom quickly became the title at hand, which is all the more impressive considering budget and time restraints that were present during development. This twisted story is a deep and chilling, albeit brief look into what madness can come about when a mind is pushed to its limits. We all lose something from time to time. It can be something as simple as a phone or a teddy bear, or something more unhinging like a child or your sanity.

After a full day at the park, closing time is here and Lorraine and her son are ready to head home. Realizing his teddy bear is missing, Lorraine gets permission from an employee to go look for it when Callum unexpectedly darts off into the park. Chasing after him quickly becomes one of the most haunting experience of Lorraine’s life. The game is all about how the mind perceives fear and stress, and really plays to that well. Calling out for Callum gives a certain haste and pressure to the situation as you catch glimpses of him running off without you ever really being able to catch up. It is a chilling thought to ever lose a child, let alone not be in control. Funcom exceptionally pulls off this fear, and really unwinds a terrifying look into a broken mind as you progress. Since the game is relatively short, I will not detail the events that have lead up to the mother and son day out, but they certainly were not the happiest of times.

(Intro video here)

Running on Unreal 4, which is the reason the game began as an experiment, The Park looks great in many cases. The character models are by far the weaker looking textures in the title, but not much time is spent looking at people. It is all about the environment which is really well put together. The park’s rides are varied and detailed in their own way, with the animations, paints, and lightings each giving the rides their own character so to speak. The same “mostly good” case follows in the audio as well. The general emptiness of Atlantic Island Park is spooky enough, the howling winds that trace the edges of the park are accurate enough to run a chill down your spine. While the rides hum and whir to immerse you, the actual dialogue Lorraine speaks is sometimes awkward. Her personal insights (progressively triggered audio queues) sound great, both emotionally and in general, her callouts to Callum (which can be activated with a press of the B button on Xbox One) do not always fit the scenario. In any case where the player has the option of activating dialogue at a moment’s notice, a certain awkwardness can occur, but in this case not only is the phrasing sometimes off but the punctuality as well. What I mean by this is that some phrases that should be demanding come off sounding like questions (where “give him back!” sounds like “give him back?”)

The game truly is about storytelling, and it does that pretty well. Whether it is through the aforementioned personal insights of Lorraine or through notes scattered throughout the park, there is a deeply thought out consciousness to the narrative. The notes around the park entice the player as they learn about the troubled history of the park, and further about Lorraine during parts later in the game. My only issue with the notes as that they are incredibly hard to read, and should have had an option to trigger plain text on the screen. As enticing as the story is, when it actually came to a conclusion I was left disappointed. There were too many questions unanswered, and as I still theorize what was presented I am left wanting more closure. I really, really liked the themes at hand and how they weaved multiple notions and metaphorical figures into one narrative, but when it came to a close without wrapping it all up it made me question if they tried to use too much. The final act started so strong, and unfortunately lost its punch in the final moments.

The Park is a great, quick experience that is not without its shortcomings. Though it tells a chilling tale that truly deserves deep interpretation, the end is a bit of a letdown. For players that love the immersive, narrative driven experience The Park is another solid entry in the growing field. For the horror side of it, it gets the job done, but those who watched me play as well as I could have used for some more scares. There were multiple moments where I expected scares that did not come, and that is okay, but it really would have added to the experience. Through and through, the developers know how to tell a story. This is a deep and haunting look into the mind that will leave impressions on the player, both good and bad.

*Note: A copy of the game was provided for the purposes of the review

7/10
+A chilling look into mental disease
+Atmospheric
+Some really high points…
-but also some really low points
-unsatisfying conclusion
-no replay value
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Strategy One
639,632 (278,883)
Strategy One
TA Score for this game: 1,029
Posted on 11 May 16 at 06:59, Edited on 12 May 16 at 16:29
This review has 14 positive votes and 6 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
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Plot (without spoilers)

You are a mother entering a park on the look-out for your son who has disappeared. Through-out the game you do learn a bit about yourself and the park you're going through. You go through quite an experience looking for him, many questions will be answered and many will be unanswered.

Introducion

This small roller coaster of a game is not a game intended to consume your time, it has no replay value or time consumption. I went through the game taking my time looking at everything and looking at things closely and it only took me 1 hour and a half to finish everything.

Graphics/sound effects

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The graphics aren't an eye sore and they aren't eye candy, although if you like dark games I do recommend feasting your senses on this game because it is easily worth it. The game does a great job creating a dark setting. Its not extremely scary but it can definitely give you some good chills! They have done a good job making the controller vibrate at some moments and some flashes/jump moments which are always fun with some noise to help make you flinch or jump!

Story/Entertainment

I felt that the story was short and sweet, the game leaves notes laying around for you to read and get into the story. There are a few slow moments and a couple of moments that you thought would happen, but nothing does. The part of the game where you think you are done has much more material than the beginning of the game, I felt half the game was in the park if you are like me and look at every little thing.

Conclusion/my overall opinion

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I would wait for a price drop on this game or deal because it has no re-playability, the story is short and sweet but nothing super special. I say the game is definitely worth less than 12.99 to play. I agree with the current rating on this game which says the experience you will get while playing this.

Verdict:
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A Big Radroach
327,636 (182,068)
A Big Radroach
TA Score for this game: 1,029
Posted on 11 July 19 at 15:39
This review has 4 positive votes and 0 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
The Park

Is a psychedelic Interactive Walking Simulator where you play as the widowed Lorraine. A financially, emotionally and mentally, struggling single mum suffering from depression. You are at Atlantic Island Park forever chasing after your son, Callum (since the little A-hole likes to run away from you). You experience the narrative and world through Lorraine's eyes in her search for Callum.

The game itself is ludicrously short and relatively linear with little room to get lost. The world being confined by limited exploration and interaction only underlines the shortness of the game. To the point where you can gain a completion within a hour and a reasonable portion of the game is idled cutscenes. There are mechanics are in place to 'call out' for Callum to redirect you if you get stuck at any point. Bonus points awarded for being able to run and at a good pace too in a Walking Sim. Although the visuals aren't anything to write home about and the story isn't exactly "unique." More shall I say, the Director's intent I believe was to "feel familiar" but not too familiar at the same time. There's a few minor glitchy moments as any game contains. As for the horror aspect. I shall delve deeply into that in a second!

Have other games done it better?
Of course.
Is The Park a lazily made game? Absolutely not.

Give The Park more than the 1 hour it deserves and it will prove itself to you!
The more time you put into the game, the more you get a feel for Lorraine and those like her suffering with the daily struggle of metal health. The game is recommended to play with a good set of quality headphones for a more true experience within Lorraine's mind. Depression is a major theme which is brilliant to be included in a modern day creation with it's acceptance slowly growing in the game development world. You experience Lorraine's thoughts and feelings as she remembers the past. The viewpoint of her perception on the world combined with your own is simply brilliant. Taking a step from psychological to psychedelic. You experience hell from another person's point of view and how it differs to your own; You are forced to see how others see. Which is a beautiful take from this tiny, tiny game.

Now it's not a gory game. The horror and graphic content is rather mild. There are a just handful of jump scares that can be counted on one hand without the use of all fingers. All the more reason to pop on those headphones too. Spoiler alert. There's a short cutscene involving self harming which some players may be squeamish upon the sensitive subjects. Even though the cutscenes aren't overly graphic. They imply the imagery strongly. The horror involves you putting the pieces of the puzzle together and reading between the lines of the plot given to you. The majority of The Park's interactive experience can be untouched and thus not giving you any background information. There's a lot of documents to read that paint the picture but so much more that require you to fill in the obvious blank. Not that that's exactly the best selling point for most players. The horror fanatics though? Well the more horror you have in you. The more gruesome, twisted and vile you can fill those blanks in with, so the pay off is much, much sweeter.

Finally. The ratings themselves aren't painted overly positively for The Park either. I believe that the mediocre ratings it has received have been from those who've missed out on the full experience that the game has to offer.



The Brief:
- A very interesting and clever Director's adaptation of mental health. Mild horror but more psychedelic horror than visual horror. Worth putting on the Wish List and grabbing it when it's on Sale!
- Very, very easy completion with minimal effort of being completed in under 1 hour. Although I recommend taking the time to explore the game and read what you find.
- A lonesome 1 Ratio for TA users.
- A debatable £10.39/Not currently on Game Pass.
- It will mostly likely come across as a disappointment to your average player for the asking price with next to no replay value.
- A meaty 6.3GB Download (if you're like me, you spent more time downloading the game than you did playing.)
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