Event Review – It Can Only be Attributable to Human Error
EventSeptember 14th, 2016
Copy provided by publisher.
Event took me by surprise at Gamescom, actually causing me to have a literal argument with an AI. You’ll be happy to know that this argument has continued and got more heated. I’ve debated the meaning of life. I’ve explained the fact that I am, indeed, a human and that I will come back to the ship when I go for a little float around in space. How many times can you genuinely say you’ve done this with a game? Me, I can count on one finger the number of times this has happened. Welcome to the Nautilus, setting of Event and the home of Kaizen, the most interesting AI character since GLaDOS.
It’s a little unfair to compare Kaizen to GLaDOS or any other AI character. While other interesting ones, from Shodan, GLaDOS and even The Reapers, are written specifically, Kaizen is unique. There are fixed parts and lines from Kaizen, that much is certain, but the vast majority of it is a conversation with what could almost, if not completely pass the Turing test. Be careful what you say, be careful what you do, because Kaizen will remember what you say and do. It also has feelings, because if you annoy it, you could be putting yourself in danger.
Event is set aboard the Nautilus, a space ship orbiting Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons. This is an alternate history where we have managed advanced space travel, even commercialising it. A huge accident happens during the introduction, float to the Nautilus and find out exactly what happened to the now abandoned ship. Of course, having been alone for years, Kaizen is understandably lonely and touchy, but ultimately the most powerful thing you’ll encounter. It is linked with everything in the ship, every monitor, window, door and light are under its control. Do you want to advance and find your way through? Time to make a friend.
This need means that there are old CRT terminals positioned throughout the ship, letting you talk and offering you help in solving the puzzles throughout the game. Do you need to break into a room that Kaizen has been cut out of controlling? It will drop hints that you may need to break in through an alternate route (spoiler: The window). But how? Of course, you will be directed to controlling little droids that are stationed outside of the ship. This will require you to take a little space walk.
Solving puzzles will allow you to explore the Nautilus and uncover what exactly happened to the ship and its crew. The way you’ll figure this out the best will be through reading the logs found throughout the terminals, exploring the ship and studying the environment and what’s around and, of course, interpreting it exactly how you can. Studying the environment will be the key aspect, and what an environment it’s got.
Every square inch of the Nautilus has been carefully detailed. It feels genuinely lived in, but also shows the decay of time and the aftermath of whatever incident caused the ship to be abandoned. The corridors are cramped and claustrophobic. Debris litters the floor. You can investigate every single item in the game and it will tell you what it is. From the mundane to the esoteric, it all adds to the sense of realism that Event wants to bring.
For all the accolades I want to give Event, and praise the work that Ocelot Society have done, it’s not infallible. Kaizen does have a genuine personality, it can genuinely come across as lonely and will make you feel sorry for it. You can genuinely build a sort of relationship with it. However, as good as it is and well developed it can be, the conversational system can certainly have its problems. It’s often best to pretend that every line you type is to be taken as its own.
The other issue Event could have is that it is a genuinely short game. For some, this could certainly be an issue. At the same time, and this is a discussion I’ve had with many people and a point I will always stand by: A game should last as long as it needs to. Ocelot Society could have certainly dragged the game out, forced some back-tracking and introduced strange elements to the conversational system that could have been convoluted. They didn’t and I credit them for this.
You’ll be able to play through the game in one sitting, though there are reasons to come back. There are different endings to encounter and you can have as many conversations with Kaizen as you could possibly want to have. That should be a testament to Ocelot Society as anything could every be. They’ve created an AI that will genuinely keep you interested and make you feel something for it, whether that is anger or sorrow.
I don’t want to spoil the story of Event and I’ve already spoiled just one of the puzzles. Like so many games of this type, you need to experience it yourself. There are dark turns, twists and details that simply should be explored without any prior knowledge. But, also, there aren’t that many so spoiling too much would invariably be damaging to the game.
What I also haven’t covered is the outstanding audio found in the game. The music is absolutely perfect, but most of all the ambiance. Most importantly is the lack of it, particularly when out in the depths of space. Just the deep, slow breaths you take and the sound of your jetpack as you propel yourself to your target. Inside, the clatter of keys as you talk to Kaizen and the sound of doors opening. It’s second to none and near perfect design throughout.
I want to repeat the question I asked at the very start: how many games can you genuinely have a conversation or argument with? This is the game, don’t let it pass you by. While it’s not perfect, it has its problems, you need to try it.
Event is an incredibly interesting game. Set on a small but incredibly detailed space ship and featuring an incredibly unique character, in the AI Kaizen. It will test your brains and your empathy, as well as your patience. Will you argue with Kaizen? Will you be friendly? There's so much to do, puzzles to solve and the space to explore.
- Incredibly unique AI
- Excellently crafted Environments
- Interesting puzzles
- Excellent music and sound design
- Short game length
- Somewhat difficult to control