When we first read the press release announcing The Park’s upcoming release for PS4 and Xbox One, we were a bit surprised. We had seen it come out on the PC, but being a spin-off product of Funcom’s The Secret World, this seemed like a natural fit in terms of a release platform. The Secret World isn’t available on consoles, so let’s see how it fares as a ‘standalone’ release on consoles.
The Park centers around an amusement park and how it becomes a dark and scary place after opening hours. You play the role of a mother whose son has wandered back into the park in search of his favorite teddy bear, and the experience can best be described as a psychological horror movie turned into a videogame.
In The Park, you won’t be engaging in combat, nor will you be running through corridors to save yourself from monsters that chase you around the park. Instead, suspense is key – with the odd jump scare here and there to keep you on your toes. For the most part though, the story unfolds at a pedestrian pace – with little in your way to stop you from moving forward. As mentioned, there are no combat situations, but it’s also not a game where puzzles will stump you and prevent you from moving forward. The game makes sure you keeping heading in the right direction and is rather linear in that regard – making The Park a pretty good example of an interactive movie.
This is also true when you look at the game’s length – it can be completed in about two hours, which is about the length that a decent length movie had. The big difference is that you’re right there in the middle of everything, with a tense atmosphere surrounding you and the quest for your son at the center. Aside from the dark and foreboding visuals, the game also does a really good job in the auditory department – with audio cues that include the ability to call out to your son, and his responses helping you determine which direction to walk in next.
With so little to experience in terms of ‘traditional’ gameplay, The Park’s strongest asset is its story development – and this is really the reason you should check out this game. If you’re into (psychological) horror and enjoy a narrative experience where you play the lead role, then Funcom’s spin-off of The Secret World is an excellent choice – even if you’re not familiar with the source material.