IntroductionThe Park, developed by Funcom, brings a short first-person story full of scares and backstory narrations. You play as Lorraine, a mother who decided to spend the day at Atlantic Island Park with her son Callum, who coincidently was born the same day the park was built and is a favorite of his. As the park closes, Callum runs back inside to find his teddy bed. Follow him inside and bring him out. You can buy the game on Steam, PlayStation Network, or Xbox Marketplace for $12.99.
StoryThe amusement park has had a history of grotesque deaths over the many years since its establishment. The earliest incident was "The Bumper Car Accident," whereupon delivery of the bumper cars, the latch holding them on the truck was released, crushing one of the employees underneath. Police chalked it up to superstitious eye-witness accounts when told there was someone on top of the load who released the cars, dismissing the case as nothing more than an accident.
The next horrific death(s) came with the headline "The Chipmunk Killer." The man dressed as the amusement parks mascot was carving ice sculptures with a chainsaw. When one of the kids walked up and harassed him for the sculptures looking ugly, he lost his mind and started massacring people in the park. Ultimately this would be the case that shut the park down.
GameplayThe game plays as a walking simulator, with the emphasis being on story and scares. Everything is very straightforward and almost linear. You can feel the slower pace of the game from the very beginning when you walk across the park to speak with the ticket counter employee about Callum's lost teddy bear. Stepping inside after he unlocks the entrance so that you can get your son, the escalator ride that brings you to the park feels like it's running on low power. The game doesn't speed up regarding movements anytime after. It both feels slow, but also provides the desired feeling of helplessness. Jumping on one of the several rides available will provide a good portion of the scares and intensity but occasionally feel dragged out.
There are handfuls of objects to interact with in any given area that will provide a deeper look into the backstory of the park and the events that happened within, but in general, they are fairly vague or bland. Consistently you'll need to call out for Callum to track him around the park. Calling out for him will also give hints as to what objects near you can be looked at. Later on, in the short gameplay, you'll find a flashlight to use; this is the extent of new mechanics being introduced.
Sound and GraphicsThe environmental and atmospheric sounds are immersive and one of the strong aspects of the game. The shouting back and forth between the mom and her son give a deep fear feeling in the tones (more so the mom since Callum shouts as if he's having fun yelling "come on mommy" while he traverses further into the park). The narration is expressed randomly throughout the game by Lorraine as she contemplates and rationalizes the experience. All the sounds you could possibly imagine hearing in an amusement park are present, and extremely well done. The water splashing on the swan boat, the rollercoaster clicking as it moves up the track, the crashing of the bumper cars, everything is attentively produced and implemented to make the game everything it is.
Graphics as a whole look very good. It doesn't challenge AAA title material but does make its immersive world an incredibly impressive experience. If you nitpick at the details you'll occasionally find muddy textures when looking close. The psychological effects Lorraine will have at times looks well done and doesn't hinder the rest of the visuals while walking around, and plays out in a believable fashion with the blurring of the screen and worried acting as she looks at her hands for help with stability and understanding. The game runs smooth and keeps its consistency in this regard throughout the game with few to no bugs, glitches, or screen lagging.
ConclusionThe Park, while short (roughly 2 hours), offers a more than decent experience. First-person horror/thriller games typically don't last very long, and have little replay value after experiencing all the jump scares, but repetition for an amusement park theme is not an issue. It offers something different than other options on the video game market (at least for console gamers), and does a great job providing an immersive environment through sound and visual graphics. The ending to the game lacks the climatic finale it deserves after being built up nicely throughout the game, and if having ended in better fashion I could see the game having more replay value than it arguably already does.
|+ Unique carnival environment for horror||- No more than 2 hours needed to complete|
|+ Intriguing narration and backstory||- Arguably little replay value|
|+ Immersive sound effects and voice acting||- Underachieving ending|
|+ Creepy environment and quality jump scares|