I’ve been playing games for a long time now, and if there’s one thing I’ve always yearned for it’s a game which takes a leap back in time, sets you up as a sweary Scottish girl in a 90s game setting and introduces characters which have a bizarre obsession for insults involving slug scrotums. Who wouldn’t dream of such a game? By a bizarre coincidence, that’s exactly what Bedlam is, and in its current early access state it’s already shaping up to be a pretty decent game to keep an eye on.
Based on the novel by Christopher Brookmyre (which I haven’t read, incidentally) the game revolves around a Scottish scientist who ends up involved in a science experiment and is transported into a series of game worlds spanning several years of the FPS genre. It’s a pretty entertaining story, with the scientist Heather Quinn having no idea what’s going on at first, with things starting to dawn on her as the opening few levels plays out. Her dialogue is genuinely funny, and has been performed extremely well which adds a lot to the experience of playing. Other characters aren’t blessed with quite the same level of quality just yet, but with the game still in development there’s every chance that could change.
Whether you’re running round levels inspired by the likes of Quake or the early Call of Duty games, the weapons are all as you’d expect them to be: pistols, shotguns, machine guns and other same-as-always weaponry can be found around the place, with the occasional hidden gem also raising the stakes if you take the time to hunt them down. Somewhere worth looking is the glitched areas, sections of a level where you seem to end up in unfinished sections of game with other (pre-recorded) gamers chatting to each other about some fairly modern gaming stuff. It’s a clever spin to make you feel as though you’ve ended up somewhere you shouldn’t have, or give you a feeling that you’ve been given access to something left behind by other hacking gamers. It’s a very neat feature.
Another well thought out part of the game is the faux multiplayer, sections which play out as if you’re up against other gamers on the same level. This is extended by the fake kids who get stroppy and hurl abuse at you during the game; it’s a novel take on the idea of a bot-based multiplayer game and the addition of the trash-talk makes it feel very different to a normal single player FPS match.
It’s still in early access, so Bedlam is still pretty buggy in places – I tried to do some exploring and got stuck at the edge of the map half-way down a cliff and trapped by invisible walls. My only option was a restart, which sent me back 10 minutes. I also got shot through a wall a couple of times, although as that happened to me yesterday on Destiny as well you can forgive that one. There’s still some way to go, but for where the game currently is it’s looking pretty slick so far.
The best thing so far though is the fact that Bedlam doesn’t take anything seriously, and throws all manner of strangeness into the mix. Weapons and enemies don’t combine as you’d expect, futuristic and historical elements merge together, and the dialogue isn’t that of a serious game. All in all it’s a very enjoyable game so far, and I can’t wait to see the finished product in all its glory.