Thanks to a code from Standfast Media, we’ve recently played through Christopher Brookmyre’s game, Bedlam, which aims to take a nostalgia trip utilizing a cleverly crafted storyline while showing off the evolution of gaming. Will it succeed, or will Bedlam prove to be a lackluster attempt?
Bedlam places you in the role of one Heather Quinn. Loosely based on the book of the same name, Quinn finds herself transported into Starfire, a game she had long forgotten from her days of youth.
Quinn is dropped into the body of a half-man, half-machine known as a Gralak and is soon told to, “Get back to The Sims!” by some rage-addled teenagers. Quinn eventually renames herself to “Athena” as she attempts to figure out what happened to force her into the game and how to escape, and her reactions are typically fun to react. She quickly becomes one of the more engaging protagonists, and is armed with a supply of assertive put-downs that she unloads on anybody who attempts to dismiss her as “Just a girl”. Her personality is also quite a bit more interesting than just the “Enjoys killing everything” type that so many first-person shooters these days seem to suffer from.
If the story and Quinn’s character are the strong points of the game, then the actual gameplay is definitely the weak point. It is interesting to adventure through all of the different types of games, and I especially had fun with the PacMan level, but the controls just felt off.
This is to be somewhat expected in the early games, particularly when they are copying the likes of DOOM, but when you get to the more advanced and modern style games, the controls feel far too clunky. It feels as if you move quite quickly in many cases, but doing something as simple as turning can be a chore.
And though the game can enter a cover shooter’s territory, you don’t actually have the ability to utilize a cover system, as you did in something like Gears of War. Also the enemies in the more modern levels are just as eager for death, running straight towards you in many cases, when you would think that they would become smarter.
They do eventually improve in difficulty and intelligence, but there are times that it still feels far less intelligent than it should.
When all’s said and done, whether you should check out Bedlam depends on the answer to a few questions. 1. Do you want to see how the genres evolved, despite some technical difficulties?
- Do you enjoy a good story, and could it outweigh any lackluster feeling you may have in terms of gameplay?
- Do you enjoy interesting characters?
Do you enjoy a title chock full of references?
If you answer yes, then by all means, check the game out. If you stated no, then you may want to wait a bit before you do, for while Bedlam is a love letter to gaming’s history, the gameplay can easily turn quite a few gamers off of the title.
Final Score: 3/5