Funcom‘s (best known for the MMO The Secret World and the MMORPG Age of Conan) The Park takes place in the same universe as the The Secret World. If you haven’t played The Secret World—no worries, it won’t interfere with your playthrough—you’ll soon find out the Atlantic Island Park has a dark history of mysterious murders, unexplainable accidents and a seemingly crazy owner. Players control Lorraine, a woman who has lost her son, Callum, in the infamous park.
This psychological horror isn’t the run and hide—or shoot wildly at nothingness, hoping you made contact—kind of game I’m used to playing. There are no weapons, no monsters stalking you, waiting for the perfect time to attack. You’re just a spectator, watching a woman, mother unravel before you. The controls are simple: walk, run, look around and pick up random items. You can also call out your son Callum’s name and get a reaction/response.
The Park isn’t scary like Silent Hill or Outlast, it’s more of a creepy game with a few jump scares. I scared myself more than the game did. I spent most of the time expecting something to jump out and chase me, but it never happened. The sounds in the game raise the creep level even more: whispers, echoes, something that sounds like a speaker or radio in distance, the wind. The sounds are a nice touch, and there isn’t much music, which made the experience better for me. I did missed the scary, though. A creepy park at night is the perfect setting for terror, and I was expecting that.
As you explore the dilapidated park, you’ll come across notes, reports and letters revealing bits and pieces of the park’s history. Lorraine will chime in with her thoughts and revelations about the park and her life. Riding the rides also causes her to give insight into her past and her decent. For someone who has lost her son, she is awfully calm: walking around, riding rides and contemplating. By the end of the game, I understood why, of course, but it did confuse me for a bit.
The story doesn’t get really interesting until the second half of the game; that’s when it gets juicy. Learning about the park and its dreary past is interesting, but as Lorraine reveals more about herself, the more I wanted to know about her and Callum. However, I felt a disconnect between the park and Lorraine. Because The Park is connected to the MMO The Secret World—which I haven’t played—developers had to tie in references, but it was still nice to learn a little bit about the park.
It’s a short experience (about an hour or two), but that’s expected when you are seeing only a glimpse of a woman’s life. The Park didn’t wow me or keep me up at night, but I did really enjoy the game. the story touches on a topic we rarely hear or know much about. I also like the short-story approach, peeking into a character we may have never bumped into during another game. I probably won’t play The Park again—maybe just to get the last two achievements I missed—but I would recommend it to a friend.