Since Youtubers took to Steam and began streaming games with countless jump scares, the horror genre has received a well deserved comeback. The Park is another one of these games that is predicated on cheap scares and a less than engaging plot.
Taking place in the MMO universe of The Secret World, the player takes the role of Lorraine, who is visiting Atlantic Island Park with her son, Callum. During the visit, Callum goes wandering through out the park, and it’s up to the player to find him. The game’s narrative is narrated through Lorraine’s inner monologue and various notes that she comes across throughout the park.
Popularly referred to as “a walking simulator”, the main mechanics of The Park are quite hollow. By simply walking and observing environments, the player is engaged into a narrative experience than an interactive one. Unfortunately for The Park, the overall gameplay style did not match up well with the quality of its plot. If a game is solely focused on atmospheric experiences and nothing else, a solid narrative is key and in the case of this title, there wasn’t really anything special about it.
By calling for Callum, the area that the Lorraine needs to direct herself next is displayed with an apparent distortion from the rest of the environment. This leads the player to the different roller coasters and attractions where bits of the narrative can be found. During the less than two hour experience, the player will be riding these rides while spooky images appear, and right clicking the mouse to call for Callum.
The game’s plot goes to a much darker place than initially portrayed. Unfortunately, The Park uses mental illness as a crutch that could be viewed as offensive to a person that deals with it. There is a way to portray mental illness in a way that doesn’t demonize the people that suffer from it, and The Park fails at that. Any further explanation would give away too much information. If you want to read more on the subject, there is a great article on Forbes, but BEWARE OF SPOILERS.
While The Park is a horror adventure game, the game is not challenging, and there is no way the player can die. Throughout the relatively short experience, there will be several jump scares and plenty of unsettling imagery. However, The Park doesn’t do anything that hasn’t been done time and time again in the horror gaming genre.
The Park is a short, creepy experience that falls into the ignorant stereotypes of mental illness. YouTubers who thrive on jump scares reactions will appreciate this title for a short time, but there isn’t much to go on in The Park. Fans of the Secret World will appreciate the backstory of the Atlantic Island Park, but there is little excitement to be had otherwise. Thankfully for us, Steam provides plenty of other first-person horror games that are much more successful at providing a more satisfactory experience.