Release date: Now
Following a trend that should, in our opinion, being utilised more often, Bedlam is based on a novel of the same name by Christopher Brookmyre. The first thing Bedlam does right is transport you back to the feeling of playing FPS games from the 90’s. There’s influences here from older games that are still popular with those that grew up with them – Hexen, Blood, Duke Nukem, all the shareware glory games. Only this time we have a female protagonist in Heather Quinn who fits in nicely with the genre. It’s been awhile since we last saw a really good female lead in a FPS or any female lead really, first ones that come to mind are obviously Joanna Dark from Perfect Dark and Cate Carter from No One Lives Forever.
Heather is programmer who finds herself stuck inside an actual 90s video game called, Starfire. Movement primarily takes the form of Risky Business style gliding only with big guns as you blast away at enemies and get pummelled by retro references to 90’s gaming that is sure to give older gamers a chuckle. The character also throws in tidbits of her own memories of gaming with her brother when they were younger and it gives the player a nice connection between the game and a bounce of nostalgia.
But you’re not alone in this video game world, other people are stuck inside Starfire as well.
It feels as if Bedlam could benefit for a bit more time being put into level design and general mechanical execution before it was put out on the market. We encountered a few glitches on our play-through. The glitches add frustration, but our run through was not abysmal because of them. Perhaps luck of the draw. There are nice touches in this game that it doesn’t detract from the enjoyability of the basic gaming you undertake. The further into the story you advance, the better the actual graphics improve. But the difficulty setting and nuisance enemy levelling can sometimes cause more annoyance than anything.
Such a small yet noticeable change shows that the creators of Bedlam really wanted to make a game for those who loved gaming and wanted to revel in their childhood experiences. Nevertheless there is quite a reuse of visuals throughout and that is one of the primary areas that could have benefited from more variety
The performance of the voice actors in this game is pretty great and it’s a testament to the current issue of voice actor strikes that is going on in the gaming industry. Heather’s voice actor gives us a fun lead to control, full of sarcastic quips about the bizarre situation she finds herself in.
Bedlam seeks to remind you of how FPS games were, what was treasured about them and how they have evolved since but of course there are a lot of little changes that aren’t included and maybe after playing the game you might think “hmmm they could have added this or that” If you had a day of nothingness to yourself Bedlam could be completed easily enough and we’d like to have a few more levels thrown in but there is a replayability option for this game based primarily on the 90’s style nuances and references, moreso than the game-play itself overall.
If you’re someone that finds that graphics need to be at their optimum best for you to enjoy a game then a) why and b) Bedlam will disappoint but it does so purposely. This is an homage, not a COD rival.
Bedlam is not a bad game by any means, it’s just one that would have benefited from a lot more polishing and a bit more variety. Voice acting cannot be faulted nor can the passion for gaming and showcasing memories of playing a game in a game you play (say that 10 times fast). But with added touches, fixes and a bit more breadth pumped in Bedlam could evolve past status of “decent with potential”. If you have a few quid to spare (though perhaps wait on a sale) and have a lot of fondness for old school first person shooters then check the game out.