When I caught wind of a psychological horror game based in an amusement park, I thought I really should stay away from it to keep my pants white, for those concerned I can safely say I’m all clear. The Park is a short horror game spin off from Funcom’s MMORPG ‘The Secret World’, now personally I have never heard of this game. This isn’t surprising as I seldom play MMORPGs, but it seems fans of The Secret World have been awaiting a single player experience set in one its worlds. And after playing The Park, I can’t see why they wouldn’t be satisfied.
The Park starts off when you (Lorraine) and your son Callum are about to leave an amusement park after a day full of fun no doubt, but Callum being a small boy has left his teddy inside. So being the mother it’s your job to waltz in there after the park closing times and get it for him. However, children being children Callum runs in after you with the hope to play chase, now the fun amusement part takes a frightening turn as night arrives and the park is covered by dusk. Now your aim is to explore the park in order to find Callum, and escape the spooky park.
Throughout your travels you go through all the classic amusement park rides, from a Ferris wheel to the bumper cars. I will warn you, after playing this game you may not want to go on any of these rides again. Every time you go on one of these you receive a monologue from Lorraine, reminiscing about the fun times you had with Callum which slowly become more and more sinister as the story unravels. The rest is for you to find out.
Now this is more of an experience rather than a game, as you have very little control. You have control over where you go, where you look and what items/memos you inspect. I wasn’t really bothered by this as I prefer this in a psychological horror, otherwise it becomes too much like the combat system in Silent Hill: Homecoming. And seeing as the game is only short, it would have been wasted at add in a Silent Hill 2 type enemy system. This game is only around an hour long, dependent on how much you look around and read stuff. The time can also vary on how long it takes you to man up and enter the house of horrors.
The Park’s main asset is its atmosphere, and this is largely helped by the visuals. The game looks amazing, and combine this with the sounds makes a horror experience worth playing. Due to the incredible aesthetics you seldom get taken out of the realism, unless your computer crashes multiple times like mine did. But for those wanting to get the full participation I would recommend looking and reading all the notes you can find, as this adds more background to the story and the game as a whole.
One thing I noticed in The Park is that the “scary” skeleton man looked as if it was from ‘The Nightmare before Christmas’, as well as this there is a factor taken from P.T. in The Park. That factor being the repetitive endless looping through the same small area, while things in that area begin to change after each iteration. A big problem for me was the price, the game when it isn’t on sale costs £10, which for an hour experience isn’t really worth it. I could get behind this price if the game was £5, but the base price just seems a bit steep for what you’re getting.
Overall, I really enjoyed this game. The atmosphere is built beautifully created and the story is interesting, despite being somewhat predictable, as well as being deep if you choose to find the notes. The aesthetics are faultless and the shortage of cheap jump scares is good to see. However, I’m only going to give The Park a 6 due to its pricing and predictable plot. P.T. fans should not be worried as it looks like plenty of people are willing to fill the void it left, but I would say wait until it goes drastically down in price before purchasing.
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