Also On: PS4
Publisher: Vision Games Publishing
Just the thought of someone making a game based on a book that is about a game was enough to pique my interest. Bedlam is a novel by award winning author Christopher Brookmyre, who was also brought in to write the story for the game. Bedlam is about a young woman named Heather Quinn who gets put into a digital game world influenced by late 80s and 90s FPS like Doom and Quake. The goal is to survive and figure out why she is there. Along the way you meet other players that have met the same fate and are also trying to escape.
Early on the gameplay style is simplistic and the AI is as dumb as a rock as you would expect from classic FPS games. It usually takes one shot to kill most enemies and the graphics are pixelated and have intentional glitches in the audio dialog as well as in the game world itself. For someone that doesn’t research the game, this will quickly seem like there is something wrong with the game and would be a cause for concern. This is what happened to me at first. Once I did some research, I learned that this is the way the game is built.
It’s an unusual design choice and I will explain why a little later. The game itself is level based and as you progress, you enter glitches that will take you to other worlds that will reflect some other class and modern genres. For example, when you start the game in the Doom/Quake style game, you will have a run and gun experience, whereas the next game is like the original Call of Duty games on PC where cover shooting was the focus. You will obtain weapons that are appropriate to the genres and improve as you get into some newer games.
The funny thing with Bedlam is that it’s first and foremost a FPS, yet you will visit some other game worlds that are inspired by non FPS styles like Pac-Man and even Space Invaders styles, while experiencing them as a FPS. It’s an interesting premise and works for the most part. One of my biggest issues with the game is the difficulty balance. You have to be familiar with each of these types of games to have a better chance of getting through levels. For example, if you continue the run and gun mentality when you reach the cover based shooter level, you won’t get far.
Bedlam was without a doubt made for old school gamers that played these types of games in their peak. The gameplay isn’t the only element here. This is actually story intertwined within and it can be interesting and worth playing though when you aren’t experiences unintentional glitches. (What I mentioned earlier) I had three instances where I was playing and the game would completely freeze. I got the vibe of Metal Gear Solid when Psycho Mantis would mess with the game. I would wait a minute or so, then the console would actually reboot. I am pretty sure this isn’t part of the intentional glitches and bugs incorporated into the game.
Lastly, the biggest issue I had with Bedlam was much later in the game when you are in a Halo/Planetside inspired level fighting off a horde of Master Chief and Spartan clones where the framerate would drop like I am playing on a PC. This is a design flaw that really hindered my overall experience. It got to an almost unbearable point of giving up entirely. The story is really the only component that kept my interest outside seeing the different genres in each level.
Bedlam has a unique concept with pretty good nostalgia and a decent story. It’s a shame to see it fall victim to consistent game crashes, framerate drops and other game breaking bugs. I had to give myself a break due to frustration but still want to finish the game to see what happens. I would personally recommend trying a demo if one is released or wait for a sale. $19.99 is a bit steep unless they release a patch sooner than later.