An astronaut, adrift after his research station explodes finds safe haven aboard a ship no one has seen since the 80s. No, it’s not Event Horizon, it’s Event!
Genre(s): Exploration | Adventure
Developer: Ocelot Society
Publisher: Ocelot Society
Release Date: September 2016
Played: Full Story
Purchase At: Steam
Source: Review Copy provided by Publisher
Event takes place in an alternate universe where space travel technology advanced at a much faster rate than our own. The protagonist is an astronaut recruit sent to Europa, an assignment that doesn’t last long. Soon after you arrive, the station goes kaboom and you end up drifting aimlessly in an escape pod. Thankfully, the Nautilus, an experimental ship that launched and disappeared in the 80s is there to pick you up.
Event is essentially an exploration game aka walking simulator, but instead of giving you the exposition through environmental clues or character journals, you have to go through around 10 minutes of text-based explanations at the start of the game. These explanations are crucial in understanding the plot, yet the experience is clumsy and uninteresting and it wouldn’t surprise me if players missed key facts because of this. Here you also choose character gender and general personality, not that it has any bearing on the rest of the game.
As with other titles of its genre, there are no other human characters in Event but that doesn’t mean you’re completely alone. You have Kaizen, the ship’s AI, to talk to through command consoles. Whatever you type, it’ll respond, so of course I spent the first ten minutes cursing it within an inch of its artificial life. To give the developers credit, Kaizen recognised some of my more standard curses but once I got Shakespearean, it was at a loss. Can’t really blame them for that.
But I can blame them for how quickly Kaizen reveals its hand and shows the psychotic artificial intelligence angle that we’ve come to know for Science Fiction and almost predict every single time. Though once again, I’ll give the developers credit, because when I called Kaizen Hal, it had a reply for me. Good move, my friends, good move!
I found the controls for the game strange. Moving forward with the left mouse button and backwards with the right one and using the keyboard to type into the consoles was a bit strange for me, used to the traditional WASD scheme. But when I tried to change it, it turns out the original scheme was much better, providing a smoother experience, particularly once you step outside the ship for some space walking.
In Event Kaizen threatens you into helping him destroy the Singularity Drive powering the ship, as it’s a danger to humanity, which sounded fishy as hell to me. To get there you need to open the way to the bridge and you do so in the most circuitous way possible, including an “accident” that dumps you into the void of space for a few minutes.
Sadly, once I cleared the game with the easiest choice I’ve ever made, the ending info-dump revealed just how contrived the premise of the game is, as it ties all events together as one giant political conspiracy, which left me scratching my head and saying, quite loudly: “what?”
Sometimes simple stories are better, guys. Adding complexity to the plot during the ending will backfire almost every time.
There are only a couple of voice actors in Event and they’re generally good. The music though takes the prize, with some amazing 80s synth-tunes that reminded me of the great sci-fi films of the era. There’s also a main theme song, which you hear over the course of the game in fragments. It isn’t until you heart it during the ending that you realise that all the songs had been the same one.
To go along with it are the beautiful aesthetics on the ship. The rooms look straight out of a late 70s or early 80s catalogue, particularly in the use of colours and shapes. It’s great how these old-school designs marry the high-tech rooms to create something that feels timeless. I saw most 80s films living rooms and bedrooms in the game. Not only that, but the TVs play videos in Betamax tape quality and the computers are big and clunky.
Event has an interesting premise and nails the 80s sci-fi aesthetics magnificently. Sadly the storytelling is lacking and what little characterisation there is in the character Kaizen just makes it a predictable AI villain.
3/5 – Alright