Bedlam is an original and fun take on the old school first person (multiplayer) shooters from the 90’s (and even before the 90’s). If you enjoyed playing Quake or Unreal Tournament back in the days (you might even play them to this day) then Bedlam is everything you want and more. No need to look any further. Here’s why:
Since this is an Early Access game – and therefore still incomplete – I can’t tell if the final product will be worth your money and time but the first few chapters that I’ve played so far are very entertaining to say the least. I won’t go as far as to say it’s brilliant, but I can’t remember a game that has tried this sort of story before. Not like this, anyway.
The basic story is as follows: your character is a scientist who’s volunteering to test some new brain scanning tech. The scan it makes eventually puts you inside a game, but you quickly realize that you can’t get out of it so the scientist is now experiencing the game herself. That’s correct; you are a female gamer, and a Scottish one at that.
The story is fairly to-the-point, so you’ll receive mission objectives and you carry them out. The girl will narrate as well, but this is mostly done for comic relief and a bit of a backstory.
Normally I’d write a whole paragraph about the gameplay, but the game plays like most first person shooters. So there’s a whole lot of shooting involved while completing different objectives. These objectives range from capturing checkpoints, blowing up towers, just plainly killing enemies and even winning an Unreal Tournament inspired low-gravity deathmatch. All made as a nice tribute to some of the older, but still great, games most of us used to play when they were young.
I haven’t yet played any of them, but there also seem to be a few levels that are a bit different as far as the gameplay is concerned; one of them seems to be a sidescrolling shooter (yup, it’s still all about shooting things). I think it’s a good idea to mix things up a little because not everyone might appreciate and enjoy this sort of repetitive gameplay nowadays. People keep looking for new things and ways to excite them and giving them an old school shooter might not just be the best solution/idea here. But there’s always an audience for things, no matter how silly, so I’m sure it will do just fine.
Bedlam is a game that references a lot of older games but it doesn’t seem to introduce anything truly new to the genre. Don’t get me wrong, because that isn’t really necessary in any way, of course; the game stands outs because of its fun voice-overs and over-the-top action, while it will also let you think back of the times when things were simpler. The Unreal Tournament-like level especially triggered some memories for me. Great times, and I’m certain there are a lot more people who will agree with me here, not just for that level.
The graphics can also be seen as a tribute with some old-school ugliness in there, especially in the earlier levels, but it gets increasingly better as you progress. It never becomes perfect or beautiful, but it’s all very serviceable nevertheless. Despite its (intentionally) ugly models and environments it all looks very sharp and clean. The developers have done a great job here, even if my review let you think that I maybe didn’t appreciate any of it.
The voice acting is charming but the Scottish accent can get a bit tiresome sometimes (no offense to Scottish people ;)). Sometimes it feels like she’s trying a bit too hard but overall I’m very satisfied with how it’s done. The rest of the cast also does a great job here.
In short; nothing wrong with the audio-visual experience here.
Because the game isn’t complete or even out yet, and levels are still being added, I can’t really tell you how long a playthrough will last you. I finished half of the levels in about an hour so I’d say that you can complete this Early Access version in 2,5 hours or so. I’m not sure about this, but I think the final product will last somewhere around 5 hours, maybe even longer.
Bedlam is all about bringing you a new old-school experience, and with success. It references a lot of the older shooters from the 90’s while adding some humorous voice acting and levels to complete the package. It might not do anything truly new but if you’re one of those people who doesn’t care about that sort of stuff then you should absolutely play this game. It’s a nice trip down memory lane, no matter what.