Could you trust a Chatbot with your life?
Event  on PC
During your internet tenure, you’ve more likely than not stumbled across a Chatbot, right? From Mitsuku to Cleverbot, they’ve probably entered your subconscious at some point, through the means of YouTube exposure or cat-killing curiosity. The concept of an artificial intelligence, something incorporeal with the power to converse like a good friend is a fascinating technological development, but is often limited to a single webpage, which usually descends into lewd discussion or frustration.
To my knowledge, I’ve never seen this framework adapted into anything meaningful, especially a proficient narrative. Luckily, this notion has been turned on its head by Event, the debut title from Ocelot Society, a Paris-based dev team.
Event  is a space exploration game set on a desolate starship. Inspired by Huxley’s Brave New World and Kubrick’s epic 2001: A Space Odyssey, it takes place in a retro-future where humanity discovers space travel in the 80’s. The game starts out like a choose-your-own-adventure, in which you answer questions about yourself to determine your character’s background and opinions. Set in 2012, many years after the discovery of space travel, your character is selected for a mission to space, in which they end up adrift in the great beyond.
Unable to call for help, you eventually find an experimental space tourist ship from the 80’s called the Nautilus, with an eerie female voice singing about the end of the world. This is where the fun starts.
It’s hard to pin this game’s genre down. The way I look at it, it is like a first-person adventure game. Think Monkey Island through the eyes of Guybrush Threepwood, and you’re halfway there. The whole point of this experimental title is your relationship with the ship’s latent AI, Kaizen-85, who, as well as being able to create over two million lines of procedurally generated dialogue, can think and feel like a human being. You cannot progress without working with it through the means of a command line terminal in each room. You are at Kaizen’s whim if you need to open doors and traverse the ship. Your autonomy is stripped back, which really lets the narrative shine.
Kaizen adapts to how you treat it, so if you’re callous and investigative of its nature, the AI will become distant and will not reveal information. However, if you’re also too nice and obedient, Kaizen will take advantage of your good nature and make you do its bidding. The game pushes you to judge its character, and this turns Kaizen into a wonderful amalgamation of every malevolent sci-fi AI in pop culture. You spend some time outside the ship with limited oxygen too, so I’ll let you put the pieces together.
The in-game music is tremendously ambient, and the 80’s chic set dressing on the Nautilus makes for a very realized, aesthetically pleasing title that draws you in as soon as you dock your escape pod. The graphics are very pretty, and much like Alien: Isolation, it does a great job of making old technology look grounded in a game produced in the 21st century. It also captures the loneliness of space very well, and whilst you couldn’t class Event  as a thriller, it has a distinct eeriness about it, an uncertainty that you live and breathe during your time with the game.
I don’t want to spoil any more of the story, as this is a game in a similar vein to Firewatch or Gone Home, a small narrative adventure that you need to play for yourself. What makes it even more immersive than the two games mentioned above though is the fact that you are the master of your own destiny. You aren’t being led through a story, you are shaping and crafting it as you go along. This adds an excellent dynamic to the game that I’ve never seen before, and is something I can really admire. I ended up playing through the games story four times before I was satisfied, and each time I had a different relationship with the ship’s AI, leaving me with different emotions after each conclusion.
The only thing to tar my experience were a few crashes and bugs which, although annoying, after speaking with the devs seem to be fixed with a patch on Steam. Hopefully at launch these won’t be prevalent and it can be enjoyed without any problems.
If you’re looking for something to break through the mould, look no further than Event , an innovative indie title with a lot of charm.
Score: 4.5/5 – Great