Event, from the French studio Ocelot Society, was the finalist for Best Narrative and the winner of the Innovation Award at this year’s BIG Festival. The game consists of first-person exploration and interaction with an artificial intelligence through computer terminals. I started the game in a chamber inside of a spaceship before beginning my exploration through its many rooms and halls.
Suddenly thrown inside this reality, I had to move towards a bedroom and speak with the AI for the first time. The keyboard is used exclusively to talk to it, while the character is controlled using the mouse. My login was requested in my first contact with the machine, so I typed my name and the conversation started. As would be expected from anyone, I started throwing lots of “What,” “Where,” “Who,” and “When” questions at the poor AI, who was very confused and couldn’t answer some of my questions right away. After a few questions, it explained to me that everything I wanted to do inside the spaceship would have authorized through the AI, from opening doors to fixing parts of the ship.
The relationship between the player and the machine looks a lot like the one with GLaDOS in the Portal series. At first, it seems that it will help you through your journey, but it doesn’t take long to reveal itself as careless about your safety and your access to the truth. Unlike in Portal, you really need to interact with the artificial intelligence in Event and depend on it to perform some actions, although it may take some time to find out the best way to get things done through it.
The ship itself also offers some information that can be used to interrogate the computer, like broken terminals and objects left behind in some of the rooms. Everything can be used as a hint to get more information and discover the next steps to leave the ship. Although, some of the explanations were so sloppy they left me stuck in certain areas of the ship. It looked like the AI needed just a little adjustment in some parts of the game to not leave players completely lost during their exploration.
This feeling of being lost and alone (besides the AI presence) is enhanced by the game’s scenarios. The spaceship shows many signs of a structure left behind a long time ago, like dusty rooms, broken walls, and corrupted computer terminals. Where are the people that should have taken care of this? Why has nobody cared about fixing things and, most importantly, why was I left aboard? The lack of any soundtrack also contributes to the loneliness, making the mechanical and electronic sounds the only thing that can be heard inside the spaceship.
Event felt like a fresh exploration game, one which is best enjoyed by those willing to take in the atmosphere and narrative, and not just the sights. It offers players the chance to explore an intricate plot and everything that literally surrounds the main character, from the ship itself to the AI and its own story. Event will be available for PC, but has no release date set yet. Further information can be found on the developer’s Twitter page. Don’t forget to check out our other BIG Festival Previews.