EGX Rezzed, the little brother to September’s EGX Expo, is the place for indie games to shine. This year’s event saw a significant presence from ID@Xbox with a large array of games on offer to suit any gamer’s taste. Having had the privilege of attending the event this year, one game really got my attention and struck a chord for me, Bedlam.
Publisher: KISS ltd
Previewed on: Xbox One
Also Available On: PC
Release Date: TBD, available now on Steam Early Access
The brainchild of Scottish author Chris Brookmyre, Bedlam is billed as a nostalgic shooter for gamers who survived the 80s and 90s. Based on Brookmyre’s novel of the same name, you play Heather Quinn (aka Athena), a colleague of the books protagonist Ross Baker.
Heather is a programmer at medical scanning developer Neurosphere who accidently finds herself transported into the world of Starfire: a nineties FPS she remembers from her teen years, much as her colleague does in the book. Searching for answers and a way home, she discovers that Starfire isn’t the only game world she can visit as she begins a journey through the virtual relm of the FPS genre.
Her unexpected adventure takes her through levels inspired by Doom, Call of Duty, Halo and many more, all with unique environments.
Whether intentionally or not the decision to change the gender of the protagonist is a pleasant yet subtle nod to the fact that female gamers are not a new thing, they’ve been around since the beginning like us guys. I may be overthinking this but either way it’s a classy move that has little effect on the gameplay or enjoyment.
The gameplay itself delivers exactly what it promises, nostalgia. As a fan of the FPS genre dating back to the release of Doom, I found myself thrown back to the days of my trusty 486 running Windows 3.1 in the early 90’s, a simpler time when decent PC gaming didn’t require a mortgage.
There’s so much in this game to appeal to the older generation of gamers but you don’t have to be edging towards your mid-life crisis to enjoy and fully appreciate this game. The melee attack, for example, is a hidden gem that modern players will like as you run in for a close quarters kill and the familiar hidden blade from the Assassin’s Creed franchise makes an appearance.
The mechanics for the game are bulk standard FPS template, utilizing the template made popular by one of the games influences, Halo. The controls are simple yet effective and as a result it’s very easy for any player with minor FPS experience to pick up a controller and get playing instantly.
During the demonstration at Rezzed I did feel that the movement controls were a tad too sensitive, the game felt like it was made specifically for the PC controls and this did mean that it took a bit of adjustment to not die at the earliest opportunity. Even so, the learning curve was fairly steep and before long the skills I’ve learnt from playing hour upon hour of Halo kicked in. I’ve been assured that the sensitivity issue will be dealt with long before the Xbox One release so don’t worry if you’re a bit rusty with shooters, it’ll be a far easier adjustment.
Visually I found myself a little ambivalent looking at the game as a whole. When playing levels based on older games the improved and modernised graphics were noticeable and made a significant difference to the overall experience, a 90’s shooter with modern graphics appeals to me greatly given my fondness for the games of my childhood. However, this is an indie game, not a triple A, so when you’re playing through levels based on Call of Duty and Halo era games the graphics can be a little disappointing.
What is great about Bedlam though is that this doesn’t affect the enjoyment as the overall premise for the game draws you into the experience, you don’t need crystal clear million dollar graphics because the gameplay integrates the new and the old so well.
Bedlam is a game for those who love first person shooters in all their glory. It’s a game that reminds players of the games that set the stage for the modern blockbusters and it’s a great way for younger gamers to appreciate the infancy of the genre in a modern setting.
The story is something of a fresh twist on the idea behind the movie Tron but with a more serious underlying message, would it really be your ultimate fantasy to enter the world of a video game, a world where you’re fighting for your life against every demon ever conjured by the human mind made flesh.
Bedlam is currently available on Steam as an Early Access Game with a full game release on both the PC and Xbox One due later this year.