Movie lovers will probably remember HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey, and the protagonist’s relationship with it. Event by Ocelot Society echoes that dynamic in a wonderfully unique sci-fi adventure.
In Event, you find yourself in an alternative (sci-fi inspired) version of the present day. Space travel for humans is quite common, and while traveling you find yourself lost in space and eventually come across an old and abandoned tourist ship. The only thing on the ship is Kaizen-85, an AI entity.
Interacting with Kaizen-AI is not like conversing with HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Using a design that is both futuristic as well as ‘retro’, Event forces you to use old fashioned terminals to ‘converse’ with Kaizen – and it’s the central dynamic to everything that goes on in the game world. If you get stuck in front of a closed door, then you’ll have to ask or convince Kaizen to open it for you. If Kaizen wants something from you, you have to choose to either cooperate or steer towards an alternative solution.
The way Kaizen-85 works is a bit like a very advanced automated support chat on some websites – it feels genuinely intelligent and, at times, even as though it has a personality. This is in large part due to the fact that Kaizen’s replies aren’t predetermined, but rather feed off how you play the game and interact with it. Push it too hard, and the AI will push back – be soft on it, and it will try to take advantage of you.
It’s a great dynamic that will have you second-guessing yourself, distrusting someone who doesn’t actually exist and wondering what would happen if you played the game differently. Luckily, you can – the story doesn’t change drastically but the game is relatively short so you don’t have to spend ages getting back to game-changing decision points.
Aside from the unique gameplay, the game also stands out because of its audiovisual presentation – it’s beautifully designed and features a fitting soundtrack. Audio is fairly minimalistic, but that’s only fitting considering the “alone in space” theme that the game has. The only thing holding the game back is its short length and lack of radically different story paths on subsequent playthroughs, but the initial experience is well worth the asking price of this atmospheric sci-fi experience.