The Park (video game)

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The Park
ThePark KeyArt.jpg
Developer(s)Funcom
Publisher(s)Funcom
Director(s)Joel Bylos
Artist(s)Gavin Whelan
SeriesThe Secret World
EngineUnreal Engine 4
Platform(s)Microsoft Windows
PlayStation 4
Xbox One
Release
  • Microsoft Windows
  • October 27, 2015
  • PlayStation 4, Xbox One
  • May 3, 2016
Genre(s)Exploration
Mode(s)Single-player

The Park is a first-person psychological horror adventure game developed and published by Funcom.[1] The game was released via Steam on October 27, 2015 and is a spin-off of an earlier Funcom game, The Secret World.[2][3] It was released for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on May 3, 2016.[4]

Gameplay[edit]

The Park is experienced from a first-person perspective as the player interacts with and experiences the decrepit environment of Atlantic Island Park. There is no combat or defense and the player has no health HUD as Lorraine can only interact with limited objects in-game and there are no enemies to battle. These objects mostly consist of pages that reveal the backstory of the park and later, Lorraine. Lorraine can call out to Callum at any time during gameplay, and this may have a small affect as it allows Lorraine to follow Callum's voice and thus continue the narrative of the story or to reach necessary areas or objectives within the park such as the rides. The rides act as both exposition and scares. To enter the House of Horrors, Lorraine must find a flashlight. Throughout the game, Lorraine narrates her feelings and memories to the player.

Plot[edit]

The game follows Lorraine, a struggling single mother and widow with a troubled past, as she searches for her young son, Callum, who goes missing in Atlantic Island Park. Lorraine enters the park after her son just as the park prepares to close for the afternoon, only to find that nighttime comes unnaturally fast as she ascends the escalator and discovers the park to be abandoned, vandalized and rundown as if several years have passed. Despite abandonment, the rides and lights mysteriously still function. Lorraine calls for Callum and his voice calls to her, leading her through the decrepit park.

Lorraine boards several rides which reveal the themes and backstory of the game: the Tunnel of Tales tells the story of Hansel and Gretel, this time with a new ending - in which after cooking the witch in the oven, Hansel and Gretel devour her. On the Ferris Wheel, Lorraine remembers Callum's father Don, a construction worker at the park who died in a fall from the Ferris Wheel when Lorraine was still pregnant with Callum. Between rides, Lorraine expresses her frustration with Callum, her belief that she is a failure as a mother, her history of mental health problems, and her fear that Callum is becoming changed by some mysterious threat. However, while aboard the roller coaster, a monstrous top-hatted ringmaster (identified in the credits as The Boogeyman) accosts Lorraine and claims 'the Witch' has her son.

According to notes found throughout the area, the park's grounds are hinted to have a sinister history that tainted them, as a consequence of previous owner Archibald Henderson's actions, which the new owner Mr. Winter tried to take advantage of: several notes indicate that he had found a way to unlock the power hidden beneath the grounds by harvesting the positive emotions of guests, and believed that the energy he unlocked would be enough to grant him immortality. However, workers and employees alike experienced feelings of anxiety as a result of the process, and a number of fatal incidents occurred. One noticeable case involved 'Chad the Chipmunk', the park's mascot: Steve, the employee wearing the chipmunk suit, became disturbed and reluctant to remove the suit as time went on - and ultimately murdered a teenager with an icepick. Following Steve's arrest and the disappearance of over a dozen children inside the House of Horrors, the Park was forced to close permanently, drawing Lorraine's perceptions during the introduction into question.

At last, Lorraine enters the witch-faced House of Horrors, still following Callum, and remarking on the similarity between this and the Hansel and Gretel story. Inside, messages from Mr. Winter reveal that he retreated into the House with his machines when the Park closed, hoping to achieve immortality by other means. However, the interior of the House changes to a loop of Lorraine and Callum's own home through time, where it is revealed that Lorraine's father abused and abducted her as a child, her estranged mother refuses to help her in the belief that she ran away from home, and she suffered from depression when Callum was born and given electroshock therapy. As Lorraine passes through each version of her house, it becomes more decrepit and disturbing. At the end, she finds a message by Mr. Winter revealing that he needs children for his harvesting machines, and has already kidnapped and killed at least one in order to fuel his immortality; notes such as these, combined with popular depictions of Winter in a similar ringmaster's garb and top hat, suggest that he is actually the Boogeyman haunting the grounds.

Lorraine reveals that in the oldest versions of the Hansel and Gretel story, the cruel mother and the Witch were the same person, and that she believes she is the real Witch - apparently accepting that her neglect of Callum was the indirect cause of Callum's disappearance. Finally, she reaches Callum, lying unconscious on a slab. Chad the Chipmunk appears behind her, then is replaced by the Boogeyman, who forces a bloody icepick into Lorraine's hands, then guides her hands so she holds the point above Callum's chest; however, he then releases her hands and vanishes, allowing Lorraine to stab Callum in the heart.

Afterwards, Lorraine is sitting in a police station interrogation room, clearly grief-stricken. A detective identical to the Park gatekeeper enters, carrying a jar with a bee in it, and tells her not to worry about losing things and to think of the last place she saw her son. Lorraine narrates that, in her heart and mind, she will always return to Atlantic Island Park. Ultimately, though the supernatural elements of the game are eventually confirmed to be true by the game's ties with The Secret World and Lorraine's appearance in later issues of the game, it's left ambiguous as to how much of The Park was real and how much was simply imaginary.

Development[edit]

The Park was announced by Funcom on August 26, 2015. According to Funcom's Rui Casais, the games' development began as an experiment by a small team. The team hoped to utilize the worlds from their previous massively multiplayer online games, and reshape them into some smaller single-player games. According to Casasis, it was "creatively energising" for the team to work on a new single-player game as their last game with a single-player focus was Dreamfall: The Longest Journey in 2006.[5] The game's universe is based on 2012's The Secret World.[6]

The game was announced for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in November 2015.[7] Funcom later announced that the console versions will be released on May 3, 2016, making it the first Funcom game developed for consoles since Dreamfall in 2006.[8]

Reception[edit]

The game currently holds a rating of 67 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 25 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Grant, Christopher. "The Park is a short, experimental horror game from Funcom coming this Oct". Polygon. Retrieved 6 November 2015.
  2. ^ Conditt, Jessica. "'The Park' isn't your typical haunted-carnival horror game". Engadget. Retrieved 6 November 2015.
  3. ^ Smith, Adam. "Wot I Think: The Park". Rock Paper Shotgun. Retrieved 6 November 2015.
  4. ^ Matulef, Jeffery (April 18, 2016). "Funcom's horror game The Park was released on PS4 and Xbox One in May". Eurogamer. Retrieved April 19, 2016.
  5. ^ Blake, Vikki (August 25, 2016). "Funcom Announces New Horror Game The Park". IGN. Retrieved April 19, 2016.
  6. ^ Davenport, James (August 26, 2016). "The Park is a short horror game set in The Secret World's universe". PC Gamer. Retrieved April 19, 2016.
  7. ^ Knoop, Joseph (November 15, 2016). "Psychological Horror Game The Park Coming To Consoles". Game Informer. Retrieved April 19, 2016.
  8. ^ Matulef, Jeffery (April 18, 2016). "Funcom's horror game The Park is coming to PS4 and Xbox One in May". Eurogamer. Retrieved April 19, 2016.
  9. ^ "The Park". Metacritic. Retrieved 16 August 2017.

External links[edit]