Bedlam: The Game by Christopher Brookmyre
Top Critic Average
An ambitious and fascinating wander through gaming's history, but one that can't replicate the addictive gameplay of the forefathers it documents.
Bedlam's concept is absolutely brilliant, and it's voiced very well too. Unfortunately, its stiff, unforgiving gameplay just isn't much fun, and what you're left with is a great idea whose potential just hasn't been fully realized.
I genuinely did have some great laughs, and there are worse ways to kill an afternoon, but ironically Bedlam falls prey to many of the same issues of the games it apes.
In the end Bedlam has an interesting premise at its core and dialogue that will amuse for a while, but it gets same-y very quickly in each environment. Perhaps if the game started more quickly and had you hopping genres a little earlier in the game, it wouldn't outstay its welcome quite so quickly. As it is, it can only really be recommended if the genre-hopping idea has you weak at the knees.
A faux-retro shooter with an irreverent sense of humour, Bedlam is hard to recommend as anything other than a curio, despite its popular source material.
Bedlam: The Game isn't particularly well made, nor much fun to play, but it is interesting. I've played far better games that I'll remember less.
The whole thing can be polished off in a long day (that's what I did), and in certain sections I was enjoying the old-school run-n-gunning. But just as often I was being frustrated by glitches, poor enemy AI (which is pretty unforgiveable after they mock it for being such in the early levels, and then never improves), or aching repetition.
Bedlam is an interesting experience, and one that older gamers can probably appreciate a bit more than the younger generation today. Even with my experience of older games, this is an experience that reminds me how much gaming has evolved over the last few years, and for the better. It's a nice idea, and in a world where gaming could use more inventive narratives, it succeeds. It just isn't a very fun game to play, and that's honestly missing half the point. If the idea behind the game interests you enough, read the book it's based off of instead.
Bedlam: The Game is not all that fun to play, but that doesn't mean that it's an outright disgrace. Rubbing shoulders with its cruddy combat and occasionally criminal controls is a release with a strong sense of humour and some razor-sharp writing. It's just a shame that this escapade fails to ever elevate itself beyond the properties that its parodying, serving up a sloppy first-person shooter that should have been so much more.
Bedlam will help you remember why classics are classics; but not because Bedlam lives up to them.