Bedlam is a first person shooter from RedBedlam and Vision Game, which has recently launched out of Steam Early Access. The game aims to offer gamers a unique storyline which ties a large variety of themes together, a sort of nostalgic ride through the FPS genre. However, does Bedlam manage to offer gamers a shooting experience that both copies past classics and be original at the same time? Or is it an experience that feels like a mismatch of themes that are thrown together? Read on to find out!
Being trapped inside a game may sound like Heaven but for the main character Athena it seems closer to Hell. The storyline revolves around the hilarious Scottish female protagonist helping others who are also trapped in-game. Athena adds a level of comedy to the title often poking fun at the themes, game modes that players must complete and even the game itself. This cuts through the title, adding to the fun factor with some witty one liners and quick comments. It also goes to show how Bedlam doesn’t quite take itself seriously; a point made more obvious by a number of the in-game meme style message.
Bedlam is homage to games of the first person shooting genre which thrived in the 90s and moulded the core experience you will find at the heart of most FPS games today. It is also a throwback to the time before cut scenes and quick time events, when shooting games continually tried to do something different for new consoles that were coming along. Bedlam has a similar feel to it to Evoland; a game which focused on the evolution of RPGs and Zelda styled games. Unlike Evoland, Bedlam doesn’t start in black and white with a small pixelated man at the centre of the screen. Nevertheless the feeling of stepping back in time, to a Half Life era and seeing how the FPS genre and its games have changed is certainly captured in Bedlam.
As the first person shooting genre has evolved the saying of “graphics aren’t everything” has almost been forgotten, with developers constantly striving to show off a new shinier game than the previous year. Bedlam doesn’t do the opposite but it also will not be winning any Graphics of the Year awards. This is naturally a part of the game and a conscious decision from the developers, making the 90s game setting that bit more real. The graphics also vary depending on the game world that you find yourself in with visual homage going hand in hand with mechanical ones to make each section different and distinctive.
The most surprising part about Bedlam is that it manages to feel unique, despite the entire game taking influences and throwing in references from other games. To be both original and a homage to classic first person shooters from years gone by is certainly a selling point of the game, as the developers RedBedlam have struck the perfect balance: including the ability to use laser pistols in World War II themed levels and beyond.
The addition of a variety of game modes, such as domination, adds to the evolution of the genre sensation which has been captured perfectly. This variety of game modes, within the story, also goes a long way to mix up the gameplay on offer and opens the door for some great comments from Athena and the AI “players”, prepare to be called a noob multiple times when in a Free-For-All.
Over the past few months Bedlam has been in Early Access on Steam, with RedBedlam tweaking away to rid the game of bugs. On the whole this has been a worthwhile process with the issues that were often mentioned by early adopters, such as frames per second problems, seemingly now absent from the game. The odd bug and loading stutter remain, even when played on a decent gaming PC, but these do little to detract from the overall enjoyment of the game.
One issue that some many have with the game is its length, even those taking their time and enjoying each world will get less than 10 hours from Bedlam. This being said first person shooters from current time, such as Call of Duty, often have storylines which last little longer than 6-8 hours. The price of a game isn’t something I like to bring into a review as it doesn’t change how good the game actually is. However, it is worth pointing out that for only £12.99/$19.99 Bedlam’s story does offer the same approximate length as current day FPS titles at a fraction of the regular price.
Overall, Bedlam is a stripped back shooting experience, which Quake fans will thrive on, and will be somewhat of a new experience for those young enough to have not played first person shooters since the early 90s. The game still feels like a shooter that today’s fans of the genre know and love; with the main characters movement designed to be similar to current day FPS titles. However, it is spliced with nostalgic, sometimes almost reaching out to retro, themes and mechanics from before the iconic Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare took the scene by storm.
It is fair to say that Bedlam is trying to pull off a lot… Thankfully the obvious enthusiasm of the developers shrines through. Bedlam has some issues and the odd bug but the core of the game, the no fuss shooting, and the comedy added via Athena’s thoughts and comments instantly makes the title stand out from a sea of FPS games.
[Editor’s Note: Bedlam was reviewed on PC. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]Bedlam Review,