A genre-hopping retro FPS.
Ever wondered what it would be like to be stuck inside a videogame, specifically a selection of shooters from the 90s? Well, that is the subject of Bedlam, the novel from Scottish author Christopher Brookmyre. It also happens to be the subject of a videogame that is based on the Bedlam novel, which also happens to be called Bedlam. There, have we all caught up now?
Developed by RedBedlam, Bedlam sets the player in the sassy pixelated shoes of Heather Quinn, or Athena as she is known in gaming circles. Although not following the same character as the novel, both characters exist within the same world and know each other, ensuring that the Bedlam game is more than just a tie-in experience, but rather an experience that compliments the novel, allowing the player to enjoy either or both.
Anyway, volunteering as a test candidate for some new brain scanning technology, Heather finds herself transported into the virtual realm, where she will have to work her way through various different genres of retro videogames if she is ever to get home. It’s all pretty interesting stuff, and the perfect excuse to mash different types of FPS gameplay into one single game.
Currently, Bedlam is in Early Access, which means that the developers at RedBedlam are still beavering away at the game behind the scenes. The result of this is that Bedlam is unfinished so far, featuring only two of the promised worlds for the FPS games of Yesterday.
- Just the other day, RedBedlam released the September patch for Bedlam which not only increases the gameplay in the first two game worlds, but also adds two arcade levels based upon the classic titles Pac Man and Space Invaders -
However, the mechanics are already working pretty well. Sure, little bugs and glitches may pop up from time to time, but for the most part these just seem to add to the retro aesthetic and fun. Movement is fluid in the game, and the shooting itself has a lovely retro feel that tugs on the sense of nostalgia.
Players will begin by finding themselves stuck in a Quake 2 style game called Starfire and will be moving from one objective to the next while shooting enemies with an incredibly ineffective gun (something which even the main character comments on). These relatively linear objectives are interspersed with the occasional nostalgic event, such as one area in which the player is running around trying to capture three points on the map while the enemy is doing the same, or a deathmatch arena which the player has to win. It is all pretty good fun and flows really well.
But the real magic comes when the player leaves this area for the next. Up until now this could have been any retro styled shooter, but when the player moves into Death or Glory, a Call of Duty style game world, complete with a totally new setting and higher quality graphics, the huge potential for Bedlam becomes quite apparent. All of a sudden, the player is sniping soldiers at windows and running through burnt out buildings rather than sci-fi corridors and alien landscapes.
One of the coolest things in Bedlam is that the player gets to carry through weapons that they have picked up between game worlds. It seemed a bit strange finding a crossbow on an alien world, but maybe that was just hinting at another game world to come in the future. There is quite a selection of different weapons, ranging from a flaming sword, through sniper rifles and machine guns, to futuristic laser guns.
Another highlight in Bedlam is the writing and voice acting. The dialogue is both witty and typically British, dealing with this strange situation almost as if it were just another day at the office. Dry one-liners and a commentary from the main character fill out the world and create a real sense of admiration from Athena. I do wish that more lead in to the game could be added, as the player is rather unceremoniously thrown into the first game world with very little background, but this is something that may be added as the game approaches launch.
All in all Bedlam is really impressive. At first glance, it may look like a well made retro shooter. But the reality that RedBedlam is aiming for is more of a walkthrough of the history of first-person shooters, and so far it is looking good. Bedlam is only short at the moment, with only a couple of hours of gameplay, but the developers are updating regularly and new content is on the way.
If you have fond memories of the shooters of yesteryear, or even if you just fancy a retro shooter, Bedlam has a lot to offer. The game is already incredibly playable and, at this point in Early Access, can only get better. Available now on Steam Early Access for £12.99, Bedlam is well worth checking out.