- + Down to earth voice acting
- + Nostalgic
- - …but only for sparse moments
- - Bland, formulaic levels
- - Sluggish gameplay
Want to look beyond the score? Check out the full review below…
Start Replay: “Generic Nostalgia”
Bedlam may be a genre-hopping FPS, but it certainly isn’t genre-defining.
Based on a novel of the same name by acclaimed British author Christopher Brookmyre, Bedlam: The Game tells the story of a Scottish medical programmer named Heather Quinn, who becomes trapped within the world of a nineties video game.
As Heather (aka Athena) you’re taken on a journey through a variety of gaming locations, many of which she’s personally invested time in growing up. Each world she enters documents the evolution of first-person shooters and is littered with references of gaming throughout. Despite presenting an intriguing story and down-to-earth voice acting that lightens up the mood, bland gameplay and level design keep it from going beyond a mediocre experience.
Those with a taste for highly-detailed adventures may want to turn away now, since everything is built to look two decades old. Blocky characters and jagged level design fill an uninteresting set of levels. However, as I stared at whichever weapon was hovering in front of me I did have moments of nostalgia. I was reminded of Goldeneye on the N64, but whereas that game was based on an awesome movie and had brilliant gameplay, Bedlam’s cobbled-together mechanics come across as dated and boring.
It doesn’t help that control over your character is nowhere near as sharp when compared to today’s standards. This makes sense considering the time period it’s set in, but it results in gameplay becoming sluggish and tedious.
Despite taking inspiration from the book it’s based on, including a variety of different video game tropes such as zombies, sci-fi settings and red barrel explosives, its lack of individuality means it contains zero character. Its only saving grace is the voice acting of Heather, who spouts out swear words and phrases in a harsh Scottish accent. While this is often quite funny, the harsh dialect can grate after a while.
Christopher Brookmyre’s story lends itself to some pretty interesting situations, but what has clearly worked on paper unfortunately doesn’t replicate its successes within the medium it’s based on. I’ve personally never read Bedlam, and probably never will, but judging from reviews it seems better to read it than play it.
The need to turn the book into a game has resulted in the consumer’s imagination being subjected to pre-conceived thoughts of what things should look like. At least in the book readers can input their own vision and personal memories of gaming, but in Bedlam: The Game the vision I’m seeing is neither interesting or imaginative. The quality of the nineties has remained in the past for a reason.
The only reason Bedlam isn’t a complete failure is because I personally found it very nostalgic. The old school gameplay has its pull, but only in short bursts. Unfortunately Bedlam’s generic and plain playground makes for uninteresting gameplay. If you grew up in the nineties then you might have a few enjoyable moments.
*Bedlam was provided to Start Replay on PS4 by RedBedlam