Genre:       Narrative experience           

Developer & Publisher:    Funcom            

Released:    October 2015            

Requirements (recommended):

  • OS: Windows 7 64 Bit/ Windows 8 64 Bit/ Windows 10 64 Bit
  • Processor: Core i5 processor or equivalent
  • Memory: 8 GB RAM
  • Graphics: NVIDIA 760 series 2Gb VRAM or better / AMD Radeon R9 270X 2Gb VRAM or better
  • DirectX: Version 11
  • Hard Drive: 4 GB available space

Additional screenshots



By flotsam


The Park


The Park is self-described as a narrative focused psychological horror experience, based around intense storytelling and exploration. That is a pretty apt description.

Notice it doesn’t use the word game. There are game-like qualities, but “narrative experience” is probably the best label. The notes which accompanied my review copy refer to titles such as Gone Home, Dear Esther and The Stanley Parable as occupying the same space, so if you have “played” any of those you may be in familiar territory.

Using those same notes, as the sun sets over Atlantic Island Park, you/Lorraine must enter in search of your missing son Callum. While meant to be a happy place, the vision of eccentric business man Nathaniel Winter was undone by tragedy and drama. As you search, you will unravel that tragedy, through notes, newspapers, and other written material. The strange and real motivations of Nathaniel will start to come to light.

You will also access your own thoughts and behaviours concerning your son, coming to you in voice overs at certain points in the park. Some seem to be triggered by examining certain items, others by simply being in a particular location.

What starts in the daylight outside a functioning park turns to night as you ascend an escalator, and the park appears to be anything but functioning. Dilapidated, run down and overgrown, and far less hospitable.

Maps of the Park are at every ride, and taking the rides is part and parcel of progression. There isn’t a lot to find and not everything is essential, but some things must be found to enable you to progress. Calling out to Callum by right clicking can assist (if you tick the appropriate box in the options menu), as it is tantamount to revealing hotspots, as well as perhaps eliciting a response from Callum. There aren’t a lot, so don’t panic if nothing happens, but it certainly helped me now and then when examining the right object was fundamental to moving on.

Ultimately, you end up in the House of Horrors, and in my view things then really take off.

Which is not to say that everything which came before is in any way disappointing. Far from it. The dual tales (the Park and Lorraine’s) were intriguing and more and more unsettling, the park appropriately foreboding, and there was certainly a fright or two to be had. By the time I entered the House of Horrors, I was well aware things were not as they seemed, and I knew enough about Lorraine to know that hers was likely the real story. In retrospect, everything was set up perfectly for what followed.

Which was more than just unsettling, and could, as the notes said, be emotionally distressing. They (the notes) recommend player discretion.

Which is well and good and certainly appropriate. However without telling you what the main issue is, which would spoil the impact and the tale itself, I can’t really give you any meaningful heads up. It’s a bit like those tv warnings that say viewer discretion advised as it contains adult themes, but you have no idea what the theme is and therefore whether it’s a theme you want to avoid.

What I would say is if what you hear in the voice overs during your exploration of the park prior to entering the house causes you concern, perhaps stay out of the house.

I did think the house was superbly done. What it depicted, and the way it did so, was equal parts compelling and harrowing.

The narrative is the thing, and the writing doesn’t let it down. Nor does the voice over. The sights and sounds combine to deliver a creepy experience with just the right amount of menace. Cutscenes and visions help build the desired mood. Everything then comes together in the final sequence in the basement in a remarkably simple yet exceedingly complex way, to progressively bore into your skin with each staircase descent. 

The Park is played in the first person and uses the WASD keys to move around (you only really need the W) and the mouse to steer. Left click to interact, right click to shout, and shift to toggle sprint. There is no inventory, although there is one item you have to find which you take with you in order to enter the house. The game auto saves at various points and on exit, and you pick up where you left off. There is only one save though, so starting again will erase progress.

Please note - There is a warning on the game’s website about the videos on the site containing content which could trigger seizures in people with photosensitive epilepsy, and other players have commented on one video in particular possibly causing migraines. While that specific video (it is part of a roller coaster ride) does not feature in the game, there are still flashing light sequences that may cause issues for some players. 

The whole thing clocked in at just under two hours. I confess I entered The Park with an open mind and not much else. I left rather impressed. On its strength I will play more of these narrative experiences.

I played on:

OS: Windows 7

Processor: Intel i7-3820 4GHz

RAM: 12GB Ripjaw DDR3 2133 Mhz

Video card: AMD Radeon HD 7800 2048MB


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