Have You Played… Event[0]?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Event[0] was, I fear, a little bit overlooked, partly because of an unwise name and partly because – speculating entirely here – many of us find it too hard to take the concept of chatting to a machine at face value. We know how often Amazon Echos and Apple Siris get it wrong; how could a videogame possibly get it right?

When it did, it really did.

Moment to moment, chatting to the AI who was the sole remaining inhabitant of a Marie Celeste-esque space station showed up plenty of flaws – triggering more on keywords than on meaning, looping some comments, offering a few too many barely-concealed ‘I didn’t understand the question’. But that didn’t matter, because at specific moments there was an eerie sense that this thing was really paying attention to you – and, in fact, toying with you.

One sequence really stuck with me. You’ve just been outside the station, doing a low-g traversal of it its exterior to fix a broken mast, and your oxygen’s almost run out. You get to the airlock, expecting to go back inside and breathe freely – then the AI, Kaizen, refuses to open it.

At which point, a desperate mindgame begins. I had to talk the paranoid, possibly murderous machine-being to let me in, which involved a curious network of promising that I cared about him and praising him. It felt like a hostage negotiation, only I was the hostage.

11 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    I wanted to like this game, but Kaizen didn’t give me the feeling of understanding anything.

    Any time it wanted, whether you said anything related at all, it would respond with the solution to the next puzzle.

    “Kaizen, please open the skylights.”
    “You will have to control the satellite to break a window, how will you do that?”

    Also the game plays out identically if you constantly praise it or constantly tell it it’s a murderer who killed the crew. Kaizen is just flat and dull.

    Game looked neat though. Cool design, all 70s and 80s style. I just wish it had lived up to the concept it was sold on.

    • Jalan says:

      Intended to write something similar, thankfully you’ve already done it (and better).

      The entire concept feels like an infant taking steps in regard to AI (especially since we already know it’s possible to do something more than what’s on display in this) and as an unfortunate result of that, it really comes across hollow as an experience.

    • Giaddon says:

      And yet still 10000x more interesting than another game in which you shoot stuff.

  2. fish99 says:

    The best thing about the game IMO was the end sequence where it presented an easy solution that felt a bit off (deliberately so), but if you dug around there was actually a bunch more to find and several other more satisfying endings.

  3. Person of Interest says:

    I tried it for five minutes, got nauseous from the narrow field of view, and refunded it. The developer said in a Steam discussion that an FOV slider would be added in a later patch. Has that been released?

  4. JWill says:

    Looks like the Event[0] tag link is broken. Appears to contain those weird angled quote characters rather than real quotes.

  5. Premium User Badge

    particlese says:

    I was one of those who simply overlooked it despite the good coverage, but your recent Electronic Wireless Show series helped it finally sneak into my queue.

  6. Premium User Badge

    Edski says:

    Absolutely loved this game. It’s basically just a chat bot, and it’s horribly optimised, but it’s awesome.

  7. Caiman says:

    Yes, poorly optimised indeed. It often brought my 980 to its knees at 1080p, so now that I have a 1440p monitor I’ve not dared go back to it!

  8. myhandleonrps says:

    I loved this game, but I made a choice at the end that I assumed meant I was playing along, and instead turned out I was doing the dumb thing it had been warning me against doing all along. A quick YouTube search showed me the ending I thought I’d have, but I was still pretty bummed out at the time.