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The Bradwell Conspiracy review for Xbox One, PS4, Switch


Platform: Xbox One
Also on: PS4, Switch, PC
Publisher: Bossa Studios
Developer: A Brave Plan
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: T

The Bradwell Conspiracy feels like it should have a lot going for it. After all, on its website, the list of talent behind the game almost reads like bragging. Developers who worked on games like Fable, Batman, and Tomb Raider. Top-notch voice actors. Dialogue consultants from critically-acclaimed TV shows. The guy who did the music for Journey. As pedigrees go, this game definitely has a more impressive one than most.

None of that apparently matters, though, because this game is absolutely terrible.

What’s surprising is that the blame for The Bradwell Conspiracy’s failure can be spread around pretty evenly. In almost every respect, this is just a bad, bad game.

It all starts with the design and execution, so let’s start with that. The Bradwell Conspiracy is intended to be a Portal-style first-person puzzler, where you have some neat tech that allows you to create or dissolve things in front of you to get you from point A to point B. In this case, that means you have a gun that’s functionally a 3D printer, which allows you to suck in matter and use it to create useful objects.

While that sounds pretty straightforward, in practice, it’s a mass. The gun doesn’t work well at all, and you need to be standing in exactly the right spot if you want your objects to be able to print properly. If you’re not — and you almost certainly won’t be, because the controls here are awful and make precision a near-impossibility — you’ll just see a big red shape in front of you, and you’ll be forced to spend endless minutes moving your cursor ever-so-slightly in the hopes you can see precisely where the game wants you to place an object. I get that none of the puzzles here are that hard and The Bradwell Conspiracy needs to up the ante somehow, but making it so that you’re actively fighting with the controls feels like the wrong way to make that happen.

Mind you, the bad controls aren’t just when you’re trying to solve a puzzle. You’ll notice them even when you’re walking, or simply standing in place. The Bradwell Conspiracy marks the first time I’ve ever had to turn off head-bobbing, because leaving it turned on made me feel queasy. Not only that, there’s some weird movement going on at all times — it was pretty common for me to be standing in place, not touching the controller, only to have my field of vision suddenly start drifting in one direction or another. These problems even extend to the menus. Trying to scroll through the conversation log was virtually impossible, since the only speed at which you could do it made it fly by so quickly you couldn’t read anything.

 

While the other component parts of The Bradwell Conspiracy aren’t as bad as the controls and the core mechanic, none of them work quite the way they should. While the voice acting is quite solid, for some reason the developers thought it would be a good idea to have your offscreen colleague chime in with the same lines over and over again, making them go from charming to annoying in record time. On top of that, it sometimes feels like the game’s creators didn’t have any idea of how dialogue works: whereas the usual flow of conversation follows some kind of cause and effect (i.e. one person says something, the other responds, and so on), here they occasionally have random non-sequiturs that make it feel like they simply forgot the order in which the events of their own game took place. That said, those odd asides are better than the frequent moments of your offscreen colleague saying, “Are you stuck? Send me a picture of where you are!”, followed a moment later — after you’ve sent a photo, as requested — by that same person asking why you just sent them a picture.

It all feels lazy and sloppy — much like the rest of The Bradwell Conspiracy. Clearly, they people behind this game should have known better, and yet, at every turn, it feels like it actively works to make itself worse. In the right hands, this could have been a great game, but in these hands, it’s just a badly-executed, broken, near-unplayable mess.

Bossa Studios provided us with a Bradwell Conspiracy Xbox One code for review purposes.

Grade: D+