Release date: October 27, 2015
Price: $ 12.99
There have been numerous interactive horror games lately that slap on the exploratory “haunted house” experience, making The Park no stranger to the ever growing genre. But what it does differently is add a good dose of psychological horror to it’s experience. At its center, The Park is about a mother named Lorraine who enters ‘Atlantic Island Park ‘ after closing to look for her son Callum, who has gone missing inside the park. As the sun starts to set, the sunny atmosphere soon fades away as you enter the dismal and dilapidated park where you soon find yourself collecting clues to the parks history and even of your own.
The game is all about exploration and lore building inside the sparse park as you pick up pieces of paper throughout your play-through. It gives you stories from it’s past that can be quite interesting, like one involving the crazed squirrel mascot which feels like it’s channeling Robbie the rabbit from the Silent Hill franchise. There is also narrative dialog that comes from Lorraine who gives us stories and memories from the park, along with other commentary. All of which starts off normal enough and then soon take a dark turn that delves into her psyche.
For a game that is only an hour long, It’s most pivotal moment is in it’s last thirty minutes or less, depending on how much time you really spend noticing the changes around you and exploring them. It’s at this point that the game really shines and brings in that psychological aspect as the reality around you starts to fall apart and leaves you to pick up the broken pieces and place them back together. With this being the point that draws you into it’s story, the rest of the time (except for a few given moments) as you explore the park can be a little bland. There really isn’t too much park to explore, making it unfortunate given the title of the game and it’s themes. If it was a few more hours longer with more of a park for you to use as your playground it would have made exploring that much more enjoyable and eerie in this distorted reality that is happening around you.
The Park is not your traditional survival horror, since there is little survival to be had, but when it pulls out its psychological elements, it does it well. Yes, there are a few creepy moments where you feel like something or someone is watching you or could very well be right behind you breathing down your neck, but those moments are few and far between. While the game could have benefited from more exploration when it came to the park and adding more unsettling moments, It’s strongest parts are when it tries to do something different, making it an experience for the player.