Game Review: The Park (Xbox One)
The short description that accompanies The Park is enough to get any horror game fan salivating.
Set in a creepy amusement park hiding a dark & sinister secret. The Park is a one to two hour first-person psychological horror experience focusing on intense storytelling & exploration instead of combat & action.
Don’t let the length put you off, The Park is an excellent & immersive walking-simulator. You play as Lorraine, a single mother who has been visiting Atlantic Island Park with her young son, Callum. Getting back to the car as the place is closing she realises they’ve left his favourite teddy bear inside. As she talks to the operator at the main entrance, Callum runs into the park.
Lorraine is allowed to go after him…and this is where things get really interesting.
Going up the long escalator the park changes before your very eyes. What was once a bright & sunny day has now become a dark & starry night, what was once colourful & exciting rides are now rusted & dangerous looking, the park has been abandoned right before your very eyes.
Gameplay is limited, you can walk or run to try & catch up with the boy while picking up notes & other clues that have been left hinting at a much darker turn of events.
You can also call out to Callum which can often give you visual or audio clues about what direction you should take.
While you move around the park Lorraine will often talk about her experiences & difficulty being a single mother. The voice acting is excellent, she sells the hardships she has gone through well making her a very sympathetic character.
At first it all seems ok but as the game goes on her narration begins to turn darker & much more troubled with her rant about how children should feel lucky & that Callum owes her everything leaving an uncomfortable feeling.
A lot of scares come from the well built up atmosphere & odd jump scare. Often it’s just seeing something in the distance or an implied threat (such as the end of the Ferris wheel ride) but it is very effective.
As well as walking around the park you can get on some of the rides often for more of Lorraine’s narration that add much more weight to the story. A few good scares come from these with the subtle swan head turn in the Hansel & Gretel story boat part being particularly awesome.
That being said this ride in particular goes on for far too long, lasting over 5 minutes with no way to interrupt once you’ve started.
It’s a minor complaint in a game that just drips atmosphere. The focus on Lorraine’s mental health left me cold & uneasy with the realisation that this was more than just a spooky park.
It’s not a long game, I finished it in just under an hour & a half & there is little replay value (even achievement hunters can get the full 1000 in the first play-through without even trying) but for the time it does last it’s well worth every penny. I’d love to see this idea expanded on.
You want an atmospheric, well-told story with plenty of creep-factor? Look no further.
The Final Score - 9/10