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The Park Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Although brief, The Park offers an alluring setting and tense atmosphere. It's a fascinating character study that looks at a single mother and her connection to Atlantic Island Park. Unfortunately, there aren't many puzzles and the world they've created isn't as interactive as other games in the genre. This ride comes up short. Rating: 57%
The Park
The Park The Park The Park The Park
  • Review Score:

  • C+
If there's one thing scarier than a crowded amusement park full of screaming kids and angry parents, it's a completely empty park covered in darkness and despair. That's the lesson Lorraine learns in The Park, Funcom's brand new first-person horror game. What starts out as a simple trip to Atlantic Island Park will quickly turn into a nightmare roller coaster ride filled with terrifying memories and revelations, both figuratively and literally.

A young windowed mother, Lorraine is taking life one second at a time. She has a million thoughts in her head, but right now is all about finding her son's misplaced bear. Of course, as any parent knows, simple plans can quickly spiral out of control when children misbehave. In this case, the young boy decides to race off into the empty park all by himself, sending our reluctant protagonist on a quest through the venue's many attractions.

The Park is part of a growing sub-genre some people affectionately refer to as a walking simulator. Instead of focusing on puzzles and action, this first-person adventure is all about setting a mood and telling a story. We simply walk around the amusement park picking up notes and listening to Lorraine's inner monologues. Every path sheds new light on this young mother's past and her connection with New England's creepiest tourist trap.

It won't take long for The Park to show its hand. There's a boat ride early on that presents the story of Hansel and Gretel, a theme the game comes back to repeatedly over the course of the two hour adventure. This is a decidedly eerie moment that helps to set up a lot of the horrifying things you'll uncover inside Atlantic Island Park.

As effective as this opening is, the boat ride perfectly illustrates the fatal flaw in The Park. So much of the game involves spooky things happening around Lorraine and not directly to her. She sits in a lot of the rides watching events play out; as much a passenger as the player is. The path she's on is linear and not especially challenging, and there's even a help button just in case you get lost while exploring.

The Park (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Unsurprisingly, The Park's most compelling ride involves a haunted house that sends Lorraine on what seems like an endless loop. This will immediately remind players of Konami's P.T. demo, which seems to be a trend we're seeing a lot of these days. The marriage of storytelling and horror works best in the confines of the house, since it gives you more control over what you're doing. But even then, there isn't much of a puzzle here, and it ends up being just another stop on the way towards the dramatic conclusion.

With no combat or puzzles to solve, most of your enjoyment will come from uncovering Lorraine's many layers and exploring her connection to Atlantic Island Park. She's being haunted by a ghoulish figure with more than a passing resemblance to the Babadook. It all leads to an effectively tense atmosphere that generates a few jumps. There's enough here for those genuinely interested in the story, but gamers looking for consistent scares will be disappointed by this short adventure.

The Park (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Believe it or not, I played through the entire game not realizing that this is a spin-off to another Funcom release. Having never played The Second World, I'm happy I went into this with no pre-conceived notions or expectations. I simply hoped for a great story and a few scares. What I got was a solid story and a scare here and there, but nothing that will keep me up at night.

At its best, The Park is a fascinating look at a mentally-troubled woman trying to keep everything straight for the well-being of her fractured family. It's a good looking game with an eerie atmosphere and a memorable lead. Unfortunately, the adventure is over too quickly and isn't as interactive as other games in the genre. On the other hand, it's a whole lot cheaper than planning a trip to Disneyland.
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