Bedlam Review (PC)

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Developer: RedBedlam
Publisher: KISS Itd

Main Review

Review Context: I’ve been playing first-person shooters since Call of Duty 2, and have since gone back and played the classics like Quake, Doom, Unreal Tournament, and Duke Nukem.
Date of Playthrough: October 2015

PC Specs Game Played on:
OS: Windows 7 Ultimate
Processor: Intel Core i5-3570K CPU @ 3.40 GHz
RAM: 16 GB
Video Card: Nvidia GeForce GTX 760
Resolution: 1920 x 1080, 60Hz
Disclosure: This review was based off of a review copy.

Bedlam is a classic first-person shooter based off of the 2013 book of the same name written by Christopher Brookmyre. A story about a scientist that is inexplicably trapped in a strange, yet familiar video game universe, Bedlam explores classic video game tropes from the 90’s and 80’s, while the main character, Heather Quinn, attempts to understand and possibly escape her new found digital prison. Though plagued by a few quality of design flaws, Bedlam is a fun and interesting romp that brings the classic FPS feel of games like Quake back to the modern gaming community.

Bedlam plays much like a traditional, or classic, first-person shooter: Fast movement speed, little reliance on aim down sights, and non-regenerating health evokes fond memories for anyone who has played Quake or Unreal Tournament. Bedlam should be played on mouse and keyboard in order to get the full nostalgia inducing effect. Due to the over saturation of modern day shooters, Bedlam feels like a welcome blast from the past and a fun and simple experience from start to finish. The most ethereal aspect of a video game is how it feels to play the game. Bedlam not only has very good game feel, but it feels just like the old classics that make up its content. Taking everything into account Bedlam is just a joy to play.

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Though the game feel is solid and runs just fine, it does seem to suffer from some shoddy coding. The visual outline of many structures and obstacles often does not match the bullet stopping hitbox of the actual object, rendering corner peaking a usually fruitless endeavor. Though rarely a problem, as the style of FPS lends itself more to running and gunning, relying more on dodging incoming fire than hiding from it, the issue is persistent, as the whole game is full of poorly coded edges. The only true enjoyment hurting flaw is that specifically in the final segments some terrain and obstacles weren’t implemented or coded properly. Some objects impeded the movement of the player and their fire, but not that of the enemies. Hidden rocket launchers in boulders and unforeseeable flanks led to a few very frustrating moments. Some obstacles would flicker in and out of view even though the player still couldn’t walk or shoot through them, and some just didn’t exist at all and could be walked and shot through despite blocking vision. It is possible to say that based on the context of the final stages that these errors are intentional, but even if they are, it is a very poor design choice. No one likes bad glitches.

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On the upside, Bedlam‘s story is fun and very interesting. A quick little sci-fi mystery sort of thing, Bedlam feels like a Doctor Who, if the Doctor had a beam rifle instead of a screwdriver and was Scottish instead of British. Quick to the point and enjoyably witty, Bedlam‘s story is engaging without dragging on or pulling the player away from the game too long to explain things. Details aside, the story serves as a pleasant and driving soundtrack to the unique journey through game history that is Bedlam. Though Bedlam mostly avoids brand names, the nods to the early days of gaming are accurate and clever. Zombies, aliens, soldiers, and skeletons; Bedlam has it all. It even takes the player into a first-person Pacman knock-off called Chili Chomper; fun, exciting, and never staying in one place long enough to get dull. Bedlam is a roller coaster of gaming cliches. There some quality of design flaws here as well. The developers tried to emulate Half-Life by leading the player indirectly. Trying to get them from point A to point B, while making them feel like they are getting there on their own. Unfortunately, no one makes a game like Valve does and it is somewhat easy to get lost, though never for very long. It’s other weakness is the final boss. The events leading up to and the climax of the story are very exciting and engaging, but the final enemy is very lackluster. No great challenge or awesome creature, just a menial task. Most people go on roller coasters for the ride however, and Bedlam is worth the ride, even if getting off at the end kind of sucks.

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Bedlam‘s strongest point is definitely its weapons. Bedlam boasts an eclectic arsenal to choose from. Everything from shotguns to rocket launchers, Bedlam has over 15 different weapons to destroy your enemies with. They even give you a flaming sword that shoots fireballs for Pete’s sake. All the weapons are fun to use and unique in their own way. Just as the story never gets dull, there is always something new to shoot at something else. You only get the weapons as you progress or pick them up from enemies, so it starts with just a laser pistol, but it doesn’t take long to fill your holster. After you beat the game you get to play with infinite ammo mode on. This makes some of the guns a lot more fun since you don’t have to reload. One gun, a sticky grenade launcher, lets you launch yourself around the world with explosions, and lets you get to places you never thought were possible.

All in all, Bedlam certainly has it’s flaws. There is lots of room for improvement and a few objective negatives to the game, but a game that is fun is a success in my book. Even though there is quite a bit wrong, there is more than enough right to make Bedlam a fun and enjoyable arcade shooter. Everything comes together to make a game that isn’t really about the story, leveling up, or being the best; it’s about having fun. It may not be a game you play twice, but I’m sure you’ll be glad you did at least once.

Similar Games Liked:
Duke Nukem 3D (PC)
Quake 2 (PC)

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