Villordsutch reviews Bedlam…
If you’re like me , an old mature gamer who has been around for a fair few decades watching games evolve, we’ve seen wondrous things from black and white tennis (Pong) to the monochrome colour clashing on the ZX Spectrum then onwards to the 486 basic PCs up to our beast of a gaming machine and the Next-Gen consoles. If you’re not like me however and you stepped into the world with all of this new spangled ultra-realistic graphics on your plate a) you’re very lucky, and b) you’re very unlucky for you haven’t lived. Granted these days the “Retro” scene is quite big and a lot of people flock to embrace games I’ve discarded eons ago, but you weren’t there man!
It was my gaming past which attracted me to Bedlam from the very short demo I witnessed, based upon a novel of the same name by cult Scottish author Christopher Brookmyre. This FPS game sees you take on the role of Heather Quinn (aka Athena) a colleague of Ross Baker (aka Bedlam). Heather is an overworked and underpaid scientist developing medical technology for corporate giant Neurosphere. One rainy Monday morning Heather volunteers as a test candidate for the new Neurosphere brain scanning tech – anything to get out of the office for a few hours. It’s here it all starts going wrong for Heather as she becomes trapped inside Starfire – the Sci-Fi shoot-em up she played as a teenager – with no rhyme or reason for why she’s in her and currently under fire, she picks up a gun and ploughs on in.
Within seconds of playing this game anybody that played Doom, Quake, Star Wars: Dark Forces, Duke Nuke’em, Castle Wolfenstein and of course Star Trek: Elite Forces (just) will feel right at home. That’s clearly a lot of names on the chest but it’s proud to show them and further into the game it even manages to sneak in a UT’99 Homage with the Deathmatch map Morpheus (with trolling Teamspeak teenagers too). This is in amongst the many other nods to the decades of gaming through the years you’ll see. The generation of FPS from the 90’s (and late 80’s) has been perfectly captured with pixellated blood spurts, limbs falling off and the surrounding maps. It’s clear that the designers had a love for this era and they’ve set out with a goal and they achieved it.
The missions though basic occasionally can be a bit of a challenge and make you work for you goal; from domination to destroy the towers to your basic run through the map and destroy “X” at the end. You do need to keep an eye out for the shields and health packs as the enemy’s fire does inflict significant damage; with no health regeneration you can be quite knackered without the two afore-mentioned items. Occasionally you’ll come across a bizarre moment like the UT’99 homage when I assumed I was finished a mission. You just have to remember this is part of Athena’s Neurosphere brain scan and accept it. Occasionally Athena starts talking to herself – singing too – which can be amusing and also help push the story forward.
A couple of things however bothered me about the game – one being the basic pistol seems in the opening levels to be the best weapon in the game for range and damage (minor I know), but the biggest issue I have – one that made me rage quit at one point – is the bizarre autosave the game has. In this case it saved me at one health before a mob so when I restarted the game I was shot straight away and died. After five times of dying I decided to go to the next autosave it had created which was on a set of stairs with four health surrounded by mobs (where I died). The next save was my own from twenty minutes before. I walked away from the computer for an hour at this point.
Taking these two things into consideration, if they could nerf the pistol but really fix the autosaves the people at RedBedlam would have a storming bit of single-player FPS nostalgia on their hands here.
Bedlam is currently available via Early Access on Steam priced £12.99
Villordsutch likes his sci-fi and looks like a tubby Viking according to his children. Visit his website and follow him on Twitter.