Survival horror has been slowly fading away as newer console generations have been released. The mainstream survival horror games have been laughable at best and generally aim towards the action route anyway. It seems that the best way to get your survival horror on is through lower budget almost indie style games. Layers of Fear was a nice little sleeper hit for me, and The Park seems to be following in its footsteps. I’m glad we have these little tidbits of horror, but I cannot wait for another Until Dawn to stumble my way.
The Park begins as a benign enough tale of a mother searching for her son’s teddy bear. As you take control of Lorraine, you learn that this tale is much different than what you were expecting. In search of the bear, you talk to the person behind the information desk that sees your son, Callum, dash into the closing park. Being the good mother you are, you follow in suit, which begins our tale. A long escalator rides awaits you, and as you slowly ascend, the park changes around you. Stepping off of the escalator, you enter a world of horror. Gone is gleeful happy park from earlier; now you are lost in your own nightmares.
The park’s and Lorraine’s backstory is told as you search for your son. Controlling Lorraine is the standing first-person control set up, and you use X to interact with things in the world and circle to call for Callum. When you hit circle and are near an item of interest a visual cue can be seen on the screen. The cue looks like a giant teardrop has hit your television set, and as you get closer to the item of interest, the drop grows. The items of interest are usually notes, bills or pictures from the past that tells about the building of the park and Lorraine’s life. It is a unique way to learn about where you are and who you are playing as, but I kept wanting to find more and more notes to learn about this mysterious park. I did figure out the ending about twenty minutes into the game, but it was fun nonetheless to actually get there with Lorraine.
Since this is a downloadable game, I went in thinking that it wouldn’t be a very pretty game. I was wrong; the game looks great and carries the haunted theme park atmosphere very well. I jumped a few times with some cheap jump scares, but for the most part the game kept you creeped out. Every ride I had to get into was sinister in someway; the rides not only made my skin crawl but helped me learn more about the park and Lorraine. The nicest touches that I saw while playing are the nods to H.P. Lovecraft. Callum’s tee-shirt has a drawing of Cthulhu on it, and there are various nods to Innsmouth in notes that Lorraine finds. I love little things like that, especially since I’m still waiting for my sequel to Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth.
While the game is generally scary, it feels like it is on rails, there is not exploration allowed other than what is scripted. This aggravated me a tad seeing as I wanted to explore this haunted theme park on my own, without chasing some child. I also finished this game in one very short sitting, I don’t even know if I broke the hour mark to be honest. While I played for that hour, I did enjoy riding the maddening rides and chasing after a Cthulhu loving child. I just wish there had been more meat to this game, I have no plans to replay it; I’ve seen all I wanted. For those of you looking for a quick scare and an easy game to knock off a list, I suggest this title. If you’re looking for something that will take you a long time to beat with lots of in-depth exploration, then I’d look somewhere else.
2 PS4 codes of The Park were provided by Funcom for the purpose of this review.