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The Park review

Take a trip to your local game store and the shelves are full of shooters, sports and adventure titles – the market is well and truly saturated – so when a title like The Park comes along I couldn’t help but sit up and take notice.

The Park is a psychological horror game that makes no excuses for its two-hour campaign. At its dark heart is exploration and storytelling rather than combat, and why not? Outlast managed to execute this perfectly. So what has this sinister looking theme park got up its sleeve? After all, amusement parks are happy places…

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You play as Lorraine, a mother who after a trip to Atlantic Island Park with her son Callum has returned to the park entrance to enquire about her son’s lost teddy bear. Instead of waiting in the car as instructed, Callum charges off into the park, which is closing for the day. As you chase after him something weird, and possibly supernatural, sweeps over the park as night suddenly sets in.

As you explore, you can take a ride on each of the amusements and as expected, things get a bit weird during each ride, and I don’t mean getting funny in the tummy because it goes round fast. The rides, which make you sit through their entirety, are a moment of solace for Lorraine as she recaps her terrible story. Each one ends with an eerie vision, which will twist your perception of what’s happening. While enjoyable, the rides seem like an odd decision to include – I’m looking for my son who has run off, I’ll just play on each ride I come across then some spooky shit happens – to begin with, the rides don’t sit well with the story, only after a second playthrough did I understand their inclusion.

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As you make your way around the park, in what feels like a guided tour, various newspaper clippings, objects and notes are left for you to find – like breadcrumbs from the tale of Hansel and Gretel – these help fill in the wider story about The Park and the various unhappy moments in its history. Most of these are rather small to read and I had to (unwillingly) get closer to the screen.

The Park is best experienced at night, with no lights on and a good pair of headphones cranked up to the max. This will ensure one or two jumps, followed by a wave of embarrassment that Funcom got one over you and made you jump at something quite trivial. This is down to some excellent sound design. The music will penetrate your soul and by the game’s climax, I was feeling as distressed and tired as the angry shouts of Lorraine as she calls in vain for her son to return.

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The Park never outstays its welcome and tells a superb narrative before throwing you into the chilling climax of the game. There’s a lot more to the story than you may initially think and its conclusion is open to interpretation as to what happened to Callum and whether the events within the Park ever existed. This may agitate some gamers who are expecting a neatly wrapped up finale. Postnatal depression, bereavement and the struggles of parenthood are just some of the things I picked up on during my two-hour playthrough. 24 hours after finishing the game I was still trying to unravel the events and meaning of the game, a second playthrough is certainly needed.

Best experienced in one sitting, The Park is a fantastic experiential game and something that I’d love to play in VR. Those of you that are parents will feel that much more for the main character than maybe those without kids, and while short, I really enjoyed my walk in The Park.

Thanks to Funcom and Xbox for supporting TiX

The Park opening times published

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Back in November 2015, we were teased with the announcement that Funcom’s funfair based horror-survival title; The Park was coming to Xbox One. The game saw a successful Hallowe’en release on PC last year and the developer decided that it would be a perfect fit to release on console. Now, Funcom have finally gotten around to revealing a release date.

This will be Funcom’s first console release since Dreamfall: The Longest Journey, way back in 2006. The Park will release on the 3rd of May worldwide and will serve up it’s chills, ice cold.

Just like other psychological-horror titles, the game is massively popular with online streamers and the PC version generated more than 10 million views on Let’s Play YouTube videos. I’m sure that it will generate as much interest on Twitch through Xbox One.

The Park will see you step into Lorraine’s shoes, a mother, whose son goes missing at the abandoned Atlantic Island Park. Players must explore the dilapidated amusement area and face panic and paranoia as they progress. Unravel Lorraine’s story and the history of the funfair itself.

Focusing entirely on intense storytelling and exploration instead of combat and action, this draws inspiration from other first-person exploration games such as Gone Home, Dear Esther and The Vanishing of Ethan Carter. This funfair has a dark and sinister secret. Your task is to search for Lorraine’s son, Callum. Call out for him as you examine clues and listen to Lorraine’s own inner voice as the game progresses.

CEO of Funcom, Rui Casais;

We are thrilled to develop for consoles again. Not only because The Park is a great fit for console gaming, but the process has also given us a lot of experience which we can use for some of our upcoming games, like ‘Conan Exiles’.

The Park is opening it’s gates to Xbox One gamers on the 3rd of May, then. Here’s a reminder from the announcement trailer of what you can expect from the game.

Funcom invites us to The Park

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Psychological horror games are becoming more and more popular. There have been a few releases, like Slender: The Arrival, to games that are coming soon, like Outlast 2.

Funcom had entered the fray at Halloween, on PC with their offering, The Park. It’s been such a success that it’s been announced to be coming to Xbox One in the first quarter of 2016.

Creep round the eerie theme park in a desperate attempt to simply not die.

Funcom’s CEO, Rui Casais;

Encouraged by the positive reactions we have received on the Windows PC version, we are very excited about bringing it to consoles. Exploring a dark, sinister and frankly terrifying location from the comfort of your sofa, with the lights turned off and controller in hand is sure to be a very rewarding experience.

So, step into the shoes of Lorraine, a mother whose son has gone missing at the Atlantic Island Park. Explore the ruins of the funfair and face panic and despair as the story unfolds. Are you ready for The Park?