The Park Xbox One Review
Publisher: Funcom Developer: Funcom Genre: Walking Simulator, Adventure Players: 1
Age Rating: 16+ Other console/handheld formats: PS4
The Park is another one of those divisive first person walking simulators, in which action and puzzles take a backseat to, well, walking about and progressing the narrative. It’s obvious as to why such a genre has split opinion, as the majority of walking simulators really don’t have too much depth to them, so an interesting story and an absorbing environment are real essentials for this type of game.
The Park is developer Funcom’s first console game in ten years, although this isn’t the first time that the game’s Atlantic Island Amusement Park has opened its doors, as the game was first released on the PC in October of last year. The Park is actually a spin-off of The Secret World; a 2012 MMORPG which was also developed by Funcom.
The Park is all about a single mother named Lorraine and her son Callum. Having just spent a day together in the Atlantic Island Amusement Park, a search for Callum’s teddy bear soon turns into a search for Callum himself, and things keep getting weirder from thereon in. The story is certainly intriguing, although I must admit that I could see particular things coming before they even happened; I’m either psychic or the narrative is overly predictable at times. Another issue with the story is that it starts feeling incoherent later on with nothing seemingly connecting; in the closing moments, I really didn’t have the faintest idea what was going on. A Google search soon revealed to me that many others have been confused with the plot, leading to many different theories as to what’s actually afoot.
As you explore the gloomy environments, you are able to find text files in your journey across the spooky park, which adds further depth to the story, but it’s almost like the developer didn’t actually want you to read them. The text is so small and there’s not even a zoom-in feature to take a closer look at it. I played the game on a 42 inch screen, but it made no difference, and the only way I could see the text was to shift closer to the screen. Because of this, I’m sure that many won’t even bother reading these documents which is a shame as they are so essential to enhancing the plot, meaning players will be missing out on crucial information.
More positively, The Park is a horror game, and it’s a successful one at that. The game has a very creepy atmosphere, and I never knew what was going to happen next as I explored the not-very-amusing Amusement Park. There are some effective jump scares, which certainly brought back memories of Louise’s jump scare article and how games are often better at these things than films are. The horror and atmosphere in the game are definitely some of The Park’s greatest strengths, and for maximum scares you should definitely play the game in the dark.
Being set in an Amusement Park, you are also able to test out some of the rides, which adds a bit of fun to the game. There are seven to be found, and you might even find some of them scary in ways that such rides normally aren’t. It really is an effective horror, and this is something that the game does well. It’s just a shame that the rest of the game is lacking so much.
I respect the developer for being very open about the short length of the game, but sometimes you can be too honest for your own good, as admitting that the game only lasts for around 1 to 2 hours in the description, but then asking £9.99 for it is perhaps a little bit cheeky. Well, brave but cheeky. I know that developers have to make a profit, but it’s also their responsibility to offer value for money, and The Park doesn’t really offer this. After completion, you could go back and find some of the things you missed, but there’s little joy to be found in doing this.
In truth, The Park is not worth its current price, and is definitely a game that can be described as overpriced. If you really want to play it, I would recommend you to wait for the game to come down in price, or for it to hopefully appear on PlayStation Plus or Games with Gold, as there are far better games to spend £10 on. Don’t get me wrong, The Park is effective as a horror experience while it lasts, but the short running time and incoherent story puts this way down on the list of games to play.