The Park Adds Depth and Psychological Intrigue to The Secret World
The Park, a new single player horror adventure from MMO developer Funcom is launching on October 27th. We recently toured a bit of the game with its Creative Director Joel Bylos, and came away quite impressed. Build upon the foundations of Dreamworld tech with the Unreal Engine on the front end, The Park will undoubtedly give The Secret World and horror gaming fans alike something to talk about this Halloween.
Lorrain and her son Callum take a day trip to an old Theme Park. When Callum runs back into the park after closing, things quickly go the way of darkness and mystery as Lorrain has to track down Callum, solve the mystery of The Park, and hopefully survive it all in the end.
There’s no action in a traditional sense here, no combat, no fail state or game over screen. The Park is very much an adventure where the player must act as Lorrain to solve the mystery, find her son, and see the events to their logical conclusion. It should be noted that The Park is designed to be a short 1-2 hour experience. At $9.99 when it launches next week, Joel and crew liken it to a movie. It’s something they hope players will want to experience more than once, but they understand that its length might have some folks shy away.
There is some added value to the $10 fee though. If you’re an exsiting Secret World player, you’ll get a costume that’s themed after the Park’s Chipmunk mascot as well as a set of talismans exclusive to the Park. You simply go into Extras on The Park’s game menu and link your TSW account and voila. Considering costumes tend to cost about $10, plus you’re getting talismans, it’s a pretty good deal for Secret World fans. No to mention all the in-game shoutouts to events from TSW.
The Park itself is ripped right from Funcom’s Horror MMORPG. It’s been rebuilt from the ground up, but players will recognize landmarks and even the Park’s antagonist. Characters from TSW are mentioned in notes and letters found in The Park, too. So fans of TSW will get lots of nice little easter eggs, while folks who never played TSW won’t be alienated by them. It’s all there to fill out the lore of the Park itself.
At the core of The Park is Lorrain. Her story, her inner monologue as you play through the game, is the kind of dark and thoughtful material I’d expect from the folks who brought us The Secret World. It’s also the kind of stuff that’s bound to make parents wince, feel edgie, and question themselves as they play. Not only is Lorrain’s son Callum lost, and you’re trying to rescue him from supernatural forces, but her thoughts dive deep into what it means to be a parent, the pressures those of us with children face on a daily basis.
It’s heavy, man. And just this brief teaser had me dying to see the rest. I won’t spoil it for you, but prepare yourself for the roller coaster ride, metaphorically and literally.
Will The Park single-handedly make millions for Funcom? I doubt it. Like their MMOs, this one seems destined for cult-hit status and that’s not a bad thing. The company, as Joel told me, is focused now on leveraging its existing core IPs (AO, AoC, and TSW) and building upon them both in their original MMO forms and with new games that are entirely different experiences… like The Park. If The Park is a hit with fans and critics, expect to see more games spinning off of The Secret World, Robert E. Howard’s world, and even good ol’ Anarchy Online.
The Park is a way for Funcom to try something new without needing millions of investment dollars, or years of work to ship a product. It’s surprising then that it feels like the kind of game which will be an “indie darling” in the new digital and social media led world. It’s chock-full of moments, and even with a short playtime, I can’t wait to dive into The Park and see how it ends.