Based on a novel by Christopher Brookmyre, Bedlam is a 90’s first-person shooter armed with dark wit and some interesting twists.
First off there’s not much introduction to your purchase. You play as Heather Quinn, a bored research scientist. She’s a Scots girl who likes a challenge and finds herself transported into the world of Starfire: a nineties first-person shooter, a game she use to play when she was younger. Starting the journey you find yourself surrounded in a chunky Doom or Quake-like world. Upon first glance it looks like it may not be an altogether appealing world, if you bypassed the late 80’s early 90’s days of gaming, that is. But to others Bedlam hits the mark. And why? Because it’s crammed with a host of gaming nods from Pac-Man to Medal of Honour. Give the game time and there’s a special journey ahead of you that is brimming with surprises. It’s a nostalgic trip you may not have been expecting.
Bedlam is a simplistic first-person shooter with a simple in-game compass giving you directions to the next task and the way forward. Objectives which don’t require too much brain power to complete need to be carried out to open up the next chapters. Half the fun in Bedlam is wandering around the different scenarios you encounter. While some locations don’t aesthetically please, others seem to brim with depth and detail and fire out some unexpected scenarios. It’s this mixed bag of action that makes Bedlam an interesting shooter and it taunts you to stick with it.
At times trying to fathom out where you are and in which direction you’re meant to be heading is half the fun. The routes are clever and sometimes it’s a case of taking two steps back and re-thinking your route rather than rushing forward. Batting with gravity and even death match levels bring a host of different experiences to the 90’s gaming table.
Bedlam is not short of cannon fodder which can cause some testing moments. The opposition all have the capabilities of somehow picking you off from miles away, and it does become mighty annoying if you’re down on medi packs. You’ll be happily skipping down a mountain top unaware that you’re about to be bombarded by a wealth of laser fire you can’t actually see before it’s too late. Luckily this hardened Scots girl is a fast mover as Bedlam comes complete with its own rules to keep moving. You’re not tempted into hiding behind corners or cowing behind rocks that could have created a more tactical kill. This is where Bedlam falls short. The game wants you to run and dodge at all times in a headless chicken-like flurry. Also where this shooter just misses the mark is that the selection of fire power you stumble across never purveys the satisfaction or feeling of a decent kill. Saying that, a shotgun to the face always brings a certain satisfaction to any game, and it’s no different here.
As well as some punishing checkpoint systems, Bedlam does have some strange respawning going on. If your health’s down to its last trickle, restarting next to a swarm of cyborgs as they open fire makes for a precarious first few seconds of play.
On the whole Bedlam is an adventure journey, one of which any gamer from the late 80’s will understand. There’s some cracking voice acting and dark and rude dialogue, all of which is executed with style and charm.
If you want a trip back in time to the not so distant future, Bedlam delivers its own take on what got us hooked into gaming in the first place. You need to stick with it to enjoy its off-the-wall content, humour and story. A first-person shooter that may take you by surprise, Bedlam just about hits the 90’s mark.
Lizard rating 6.5/10