In a time when the FPS genre is ruled by big budgets, high frame rates, annual clones and more serious text than war and peace, the world has been waiting for an injection of laughs. Tongue firmly in cheek, Bedlam is looking to take up that mantle. Throwing you into the shoes of Heather Quinn, a programmer at medical scanning developer Neurosphere, she finds herself transported into an old school FPS and must find her way out, but not before traversing decades worth of FPS tropes, cliches and homages. Sure its a straight forward, yet entirely off the wall premise, but it sets up a bucket list of things to do in the realm of first person shooters from days gone by. For those of you who don't remember the glorious days of Quake, Doom, Wolfenstein and Call of Duty (back when it was a shooter not a movie with playable bits) you can expect lots of blocky bullets, health drops and the chance to rocket jump all over the shop.
Plain and simple its because Bedlam is a game that, while tight on budget, is rich with jokes and a soul that knows exactly what it is. It’s a shooter about the fact that shooters just don't shoot anymore (tongue twister I know). You wont find cutscenes longer than Peter Jackson's last efforts (I'm looking at you Metal Gear) and nor will you find quick time events to ‘mix up game play’.
Each FPS world is tied together through a version of purgatory that looks an awful lot like the wastelands of Tron, with bright light bleeding through dark rocks and peaks. Even this simple bridge of sorts is a joy to wander through in order to find the next glitch that'll snap you into the midst of world war two, or a dark chamber of an evil spaceship covered in jump pads. Its not all there for changing backdrop, you’ll find some glorious yet, entirely out of place weaponry. I wouldn't want to spoil any surprises but trust me when I tell you that you’ll see a crossbow in that anti-space area. Take it and love it, its much more than it looks. In fact, that pretty much sums up Bedlam over all. Its much more than it looks.
The story, which comes from Christopher Brookmyres novel of the same name, is delivered souly through Heather Quinn or Athena if you'd prefer (Kirsty Strain), with her sweet yet foul mouthed scottish stylings. Heavy on the puns maybe, but it works really well, and helped bring me into the utter madness of Bedlams world with a small touch of reality. Its always nice to play a game that isn't voiced by an american male who sounds as if he likes smoking only as much as he loves his ‘roids.
A lot of effort has gone into the level design too, opting for authenticity in every era. You’ll have the chance to dash around open Quake style ‘arenas’ complete with jump pads, steely corridors of space fighters, which Doom fans will feel really at home with. Even those C.O.D maps offer you windows and rubble for cover if you fancy taking a breather, but of course the beauty of Bedlam is you can ignore all of this and just charge in guns blazing on any map, with any gun. Just go nuts.
This all out tribute to the old school FPS has a lot to offer and works hard to be many things in one package, which for me is a total success. I was reminded how much fun could be had rocket jumping around maps, while belly laughing as Athena comes to terms with her fate and offers up words of wisdom and quotes that I wont post here (trust me)
My only question really is God Mode? Multiplayer? PLEASE!?