Christopher Brookmyer’s ‘Bedlam’ for PC is a Nostalgic Blast from the Past

GameStop, Inc.

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How can an indie game developer compete with the drop to your knees, awe-inspiring, and GPU crippling graphic demand of today’s mega titles? Easy, make a game solely about other games, specifically old ones. Award winning novelist Christopher Brookmyer’s story, of a video game adventure, jumps off the pages and dives into a… video game adventure… in Bedlam!; a comedy satire throwback to the games we loved to hate, complete with cursing, violence, and Scottish accents. Players take control of Heather Quinn, a.k.a Athena, who finds herself trapped inside the games she played growing up. Cross the divide between game titles, with the help of the hacker known as Bedlam, and find the way back to reality.

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“It’s time to kick ass and chew bubble gum, and I’m all outta bubblegum”

But, whether or not you grew up playing the original titles, or just have a fascination with clunky graphics and menial tasks, Bedlam offers a bit of nostalgia for gamers of any generation. 

Gameplay

Bedlam is relatively short with about 5-6 hours of solid gameplay boasting a straightforward plot and storyline. Enemies don’t offer much in way of A.I. and can be frustrating at times, but that’s on purpose. Play any FPS from the 90’s and you’ll find more of the same. Character development is a bit on the shallow side, and even though several times you’ll hear and speak to other characters through transmissions, you never run into anything that isn’t trying to kill you. Nevertheless, what the game lacks in an intricate story filled with plot twists and surprises is made up by the game’s humor. The developers take an outside approach and constantly poke fun of gaming in general. For example, experience first-hand a simulated online match before the introduction of the ever-popular mute option.

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Sticks and stones may break my bones, but simulated lag will kill me every time.

Or maybe you’ll have better luck in the survival horror genre and send hordes of zombies flailing into the air by using a more explosive selection of weapons .  Truly, there’s something for everyone.

Difficulty varies between levels, but in terms of tactics; the game feels fast, like a run ‘n gun style of gameplay. The developers may have had strafing and taking cover in mind for some of the later generation types of stages, but in practice, it isn’t really necessary. Most of the levels are about running from one end of the map to the other, teleporting between worlds, and expanding your arsenal. Enemies will chase you down and can turn into an out of control horde if you leave too many behind. In other words, get used to quick-save and quick-load. The developers actually encourage players to take advantage of their built-in quick-save exploit, making it possible to grab the same items many times to stock up on health and ammo when it seems like the enemy waves never end.

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Seriously, get used to quick-saving.

Technical

Graphically, Bedlam is not a next gen work of artistry, but then again, it’s not supposed to be.  When stacked up  side by side with the games they mean to pay homage, the detail to each level is spot on. Each stage has its own unique soundtrack, which accompanies its level’s genre appropriately. Whether its horror strings, 8-bit, or a medieval lute, they play all the hits. Controls are the standard WASD, similar to most games, or if you prefer the feel of some weight in your hand, the game offers full support for the xbox 360/One controller.

Final Thoughts  

The game is good, not great, but definitely not bad. As far as replay value, there’s not much else to do in the game. There are no tokens to collect, no side objectives to complete, or alternate endings. However, the game does offer a couple bonuses for beating the game, including something pretty special… Christopher Brookmyer will read all of the dialogue… by himself.

So, if you are looking for an indie game that offers a moderate challenge and has some pretty hysterical content, you might want to take a look at Bedlam. You can find it on Steam for $20, which isn’t bad, but may be a bit much for the amount of game play it offers. However, if you happen to see it in one of steams many sales, Bedlam would be a great game to add to your inventory.

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