Event is a departure from the rank and file of modern video games. In Event you play an astronaut who is stranded near Europa after your spacecraft is destroyed. You take refuge on the Nautilus, a relic from the 80s in the game’s alternate timeline where interplanetary travel was achievable then. However, when you arrive the Nautilus looks abandoned and in a state of disrepair. After registering as a new user you have the ship’s AI, Kaizen-85, open the next airlock and enter the lobby.
Que 80s synth music on a slightly distorted tape. The audio in Event captures the retrofuturistic vibe of the music of the era perfectly for the welcome video. Kaizen’s responses are accompanied by text to speech that makes Microsoft Sam seem advanced. Talking with Kaizen feels just like you would expect it to feel while talking to HAL9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey or the WOPR from WarGames. According to the developer, Ocelot Society, Kaizen can procedurally generate over two million lines of dialogue and its personality changes depending on how you interact with it. You’ll need to develop a rapport with Kaizen as well. You can’t do anything for yourself. you have to request Kaizen to do it for you, even for things as simple as opening doors or operating an elevator.
The Game’s primary gameplay mechanic revolves around the Nautilus’s AI: Kaizen-85. You interact with Kaizen by approaching a computer terminal and typing to converse with the AI. Movement is handled with your mouse: left click to walk forward, right click for backward. Your keyboard is reserved for input to the terminals scattered throughout the station. As you solve the puzzles you will have access to more of the Nautilus as you piece together what happened to the crew and try to find a way back to Earth.
You also have the opportunity for extravehicular activity. You need to make full use of the Nautilus’s systems if you will figure out how to get back to Earth. If you dig deeper there is a log in each of the terminals in the Nautilus full of backstory. You can ask Kaizen about the previous residents of the Nautilus to piece together why the Nautilus is empty and abandoned in orbit around Jupiter. The story of Event only took me about three hours on my first playthrough. My second i was able to blaze through in just over one hour. A thorough playthrough once you know how the puzzles work will probably take around an hour and a half. Event may not be a long game, but it is worth two or three playthroughs to see the different endings.
Event uses the Unity Engine 5 and, in my opinion, looks great, especially for an indie game. Unity’s shadow effects and lighting are impressive and the textures look great unless you get really close to them. Using over a 1080 monitor probably wouldn’t do this game any favors though. The retro vibe of Event is fleshed out with the decor of the Nautilus. there is terrible wallpaper, wood veneer in the living room/kitchen, and records littered throughout the station. The Audio of Event emphasizes just how isolated and alone you are in the Nautilus. There is no soundtrack in the typical sense, rather all the sound is from the gameplay. While on an EVA the vacuum of space limits your hearing to your breath and the sound of your thrusters. as you type in a message to Kaizen you’ll hear the clacking of a mechanical keyboard in game.
One of my favorite moments was during my playthrough where I was being mean to Kaizen. I treated him like a simple computer program and being rather mean. Kaizen got offended and told me that I could be nicer to him and say please, etc. When i didn’t, he acted like his feelings were hurt and wasn’t as nice to me either. Another playthrough he wanted me to do something and when i asked him about it he used the Linux command SUDO human – do whatever. The personality of Kaizen usually got a chuckle. and while it doesnt have an exhaustive knowledge of the English language, even when Kaizen gets confused it fits in with the aesthetic of a limited intelligence AI from the 80s.
While this game is not for everyone, I enjoyed the crap out of it. Event is in a similar vein as other games such as Gone Home or Firewatch. It is almost more of an experience than a game. I had a blast both befriending and belittling Kaizen on different playthroughs to get different reactions. At least two playthroughs are warranted to see more of what Kaizen has to offer, if not three to see all the endings. If you want a change of pace from the typical game, Give Event a try. you won’t regret it.