The Park - Funcom's Secret World Spin-Off is Worth Experiencing
This review is going to be a bit different from our usual fare on MMORPG. For one reason, the Park isn’t so much a game as it is an interactive movie, and a short one at that. You’ll probably only need 1-2 hours to play through Lorraine’s nightmarish experience, but if you’re a fan of Funcom’s Horror MMORPG The Secret World, it’s more than worth the price of admission.
For starters, The Park comes with bonus talismans and an outfit of Chad the Squirrel from The Park itself to be used in The Secret World. So if you spend the $10 (or less depending on sales) to play The Park, you need only synch up your TSW account in the game’s Extras menu and you’ve already gotten your $10 value back in the MMORPG.
I don’t want to spoil all that much here. As a narrative-driven game with a single ending, and one that only takes 60 minutes or so to play through, The Park is nevertheless ripe for discussion. Some serious issues are tackled within The Park’s quick narrative: from parental abandonment, to depression, to the dark side of being a parent. As many a parent here can agree… it ain’t always sunshine and rainbows. Some days you just want to scream.
And scream you will with The Park, or at least jump. I’m not easily startled by horror movies, but there were a couple good freak-outs in The Park, and as the game recommends at its opening I’d insist on wearing headphones and playing The Park in a dark room. I finished the game in 67 minutes from start to finish, and while I’m not itching to play through it again, I can see this becoming something of a tradition on Halloween alongside my favorite movies like Trick r’ Treat.
Visually, The Park is competent. There are some oddities in animations of Lorraine when cutscenes take the focus out of the first person, and some of the writing on the notes is small and faded as to make them difficult to read. But really, the power of the Unreal 4 Engine front end is not tested here. It’s a dark, spooky, and atmospheric game but it won’t tax your system. The real shame to me is that with only an hour’s worth of play, I suspect most people interested in the game will just view it on YouTube or some other service. It’s for that very reason I’m not including video here.
Fans of The Secret World and Horror games alike will want to play this one, especially the former as it provides so much more story and little details about Solomon Island and the world in general. Mentions of Jack and Wendy’s Bed & Breakfast won’t go unnoticed here. These little things are great for TSW fans, but it’s not necessary to have played the game to enjoy The Park.
Indeed The Park isn’t really a game either. You’re basically walking around, viewing things, and watching as events unfold. You won’t get lost, and if you do the Right-Click of your mouse will show a visual cue to point you back in the right direction. The whole game is the journey of this one woman, from despair into mental breakdown as you yourself ride along her own personal horrific rollercoaster.
Do you need to play The Park? Nah, not at all. But should you? Probably. The perks of getting a fun outfit for The Secret World and some nice talismans are just a bonus. Recommended for fans of TSW and fans of horror and adventure games in general. It’s a fantastic little experiment from Funcom, and if we get more off-shoots like this from The Secret World, maybe with more actual gameplay, I’d be happy. Even with its short running time, I feel like my $10 wasn’t wasted thanks to the bonuses for TSW.