Bedlam Review – A Bad Copy

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The past can sometimes come back to bite you. Find out why FPS history takes a bite out of Christopher Brookmyre’s Bedlam.

Based off of the novel by Christopher Brookmyre, Bedlam sets players in the shoes of Heather Quinn, a programmer who finds herself stuck going through the history of FPS video games. Using commentary on the evolution of shooters, Bedlam shows a bit of depth through its use of introspection, but its reliance on mimicking a variety of tropes puts it up to a task it sadly cannot keep up with.

From the very beginning, players are placed in a representation of the origins of the shooter genre, but its bypassing of the 2D Doom or Wolfenstein era puts it on a path that the game never seems to be able to get past. This is only exasperated by Bedlams inability to meet the same level of quality of mechanics or visuals of the series it is trying to mimic, which ultimately makes the whole experience feel overly ambitious with more than a few opportunities missed and corners cut.

While games from the 90’s were a bit more constrained than games of the modern era, the good ones always had a level of polish that made its controls feel worthwhile and deep regardless of when it was developed. That is why many of them have become timeless classics. Bedlam is sadly unable to really create that same sensation to give players any nostalgia, and in parts, many of the touched upon eras feel so vague that you cannot tell what year it is trying to recreate.

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Given that the story is based off of a novel, one of the best aspects of Bedlam is its narrative and self awareness of how it approaches itself. But, much like I have already stated, getting through the gameplay aspect of it is simply not worth the effort. Even after you move into more modern takes of shooters, Bedlam still feels like the same underdeveloped project but with improving textures and character models.

Sadly there isn’t much to really say about Bedlam that is positive and that is mainly because it is an interesting concept that failed on a fundamental level. While I don’t think anyone could expect a AAA experience out of an indie title like this, it being as such still doesn’t give it a pass on it not being a well made product. While it can try to excuse its lack of polish as being retro at times, it still can’t escape the reality that those were titles being developed to be the best they could be at the time, Bedlam simply isn’t.