I can’t shake the overbearing sense that something isn’t quite right, that perhaps I’m being lead on some sinister death march around this rotting husk of a ship. In an attempt to keep things light I decide to ask a few mundane questions. “What’s your favourite color?” I enquire, but all I get in return is an icy observation on my speedy typing in the form of “I’d thank you to use proper punctuation.” This isn’t going well so I decide to up the ante. “What’s your favourite movie?” The response: “You ask too many questions, this is none of your business.” Oh dear. I think I’m making it angry.
The AI computer which controls the ship in Event has got to be one of the most impressive methods of telling a story I have ever encountered. Over the course of the game I found myself discussing all manner of subjects with it, from the nature of cruelty, to the classic 1927 film ‘Metropolis.’ At its core, of course, it is little more than a sophisticated chat bot and from time to time the parser controlling its responses got confused and spat out some oddly irrelevant responses. But for the most part, it genuinely felt like I was talking to a semi-sentient being and the suspension of disbelief was ever-present.
Event finds you drifting in space after being forced to eject from your own spacecraft in a rescue pod. After several days of being stranded, you come across a derelict ship called the Nautilus and dock with it. You are greeted by Kaizen, the AI which controls the vessel and it is immediately apparent that something is not quite right. Where are the crew? Why is everything in an advanced state of disrepair? Why doesn’t Kaizen want you to leave the lobby? All will be revealed in due time.
The primary form of interaction in Event is done via terminals dotted about the ship. Each one allows you to chat with the AI as well as request services such as accessing the logs of previous conversations, opening doors, moving elevators and anything else that might require electronic intervention. In this way, you slowly explore the Nautilus and begin to learn of the day-to-day lives of those who once inhabited it.
The visual and audible side of things are exemplary. The Nautilus itself looks astonishing, from the faux ‘80s interior design of the living quarters to the clunky, ageing computer terminals, everything is designed to evoke a sense of some past greatness that has thoroughly faded with time. The doors creak and groan and the electrical items of convenience, such as projectors and microwaves, sputter and clank under the strain of having been left unused for such a long time. It is this visual fidelity, coupled with the highly innovative manner of storytelling which sets Event apart from any other game I’ve played.
Unfortunately there is a downside here and it’s in the story itself. While it starts off strong, stranded on a spaceship with nothing but an unstable AI to keep you company, it quickly becomes obvious what the ‘big reveal’ is going to be and then after a mere couple of hours, it’s all over. I felt profoundly undernourished afterwards; wondering what might have been if the time had been taken to further explore the possibilities of interacting with Kaizen. But in the end, it felt like an extended tech demo. A damn good tech demo in all fairness, one which would have absolutely got me hyped up, but a demo nonetheless and I’m certainly keen to see what developers ‘Ocelot Society’ can produce in the future.