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Indie Corner: Bedlam (PlayStation 4 version)

Writer’s note: Bedlam was played on a Playstation 4 and this review reflects my experience on the Playstation 4 not the PC version. Bedlam is based on the book-series of the same name. The books covers a man who gets trapped into a video-game and tries to escape. The games serve as a somewhat side-story from a different perspective. The game tries to do something interesting by following the main character trough several fictional First Person Shooter games inspired by famous FPSs of days past. Bedlam tries to homage and reference these famous shooters and does it very well. The only problem is everything around it.

 

Heaven is a prison.

Bedlam follow a woman who is mainly refered to as Athena. She mysteriously finds herself in StarFire, A game inspired by the old Shooters of the nineties like Quake or Unreal Tournament. What follows is a journey trough several fictional video games. Throughout her journey she meets other players who have met with the same fate and together the group tries to find an exit out of the videogame-verse and fight an evil mysterious force that threatens to kill them. Bedlam is written really well and while the plot is fairly simple it does have some interesting elements and a nice twist. What really sells Bedlam is the dialogue between the different characters. Most of the voice-acting is good but what’s really enjoyable is Athena. She has a thick Scottish accent which is something more games need to do without satirizing or parodying. Not only is the voice acting good but the writing and most of the humor is great. It is definitely a weird experience to hear names of actual video-games being dropped. Most games try to make up a game they reference, and while everything the player visits is fictional and a parody character mention other games like Rayman, Bioshock or Quake. It almost surreal to hear this in a game. Bedlam from a narrative perspective is enjoyable. However the game end on a cliff-hanger that leaves the entire adventure feeling almost unrewarding.

Bedlam reviewMost of the narrative is done trough enjoyable and funny dialogue.

 

Hell is a playground.

Bedlam is a first person shooter that plays in a very old-school arcade style. The player runs really fast and loose and there are guns aplenty. However the main problem of Bedlam comes not from its controls but the controller. Bedlam was made as a fast paced shooter on PC. And as a fast paced Shooter on PC it probably works great. However the game just doesn’t work well on the Playstation 4. Not only is a controller for a twitch shooter bad but any of the features on consoles shooters have like aim assist and such just don’t work in the way they should to make the game play optimal. Bedlam is playable but it’s hard to actually and precisely hit enemies AND move at the same time without that mouse precision. The main thing about the game is that throughout the game the player will travel trough different games based on famous first person shooters like the Second World-War genre or things like first person RPGs. The twist however is that while traveling between games you keep your weapons from the previous game. So you can use a pistol from a nineties twitch shooter complete with original Playstation graphics to shoot Nazis in a Medal Of Honor inspired Original Xbox level. It’s really fun using weapons that don’t fit into their games to destroy the enemies in that game. The only problem is the specifically in the World War 2 sections the AI is dumb and manages to get stuck on the level design. Another problem is those levels is that while the player runs fast as in a twitch shooter it’s not designed for small indoor sections which the WWII sections have in spades. Players will get stuck or bump into wall because of it. Bedlam might be a game that’s fun as long as it’s played with a mouse and keyboard.

Bedlam_20151010010418The game just doesn’t play well with a controller.

 

Would it be your ultimate fantasy to enter the world of a video game?

Bedlam looks like it supposed to. The game doesn’t try to look amazing, but what it tries to do is look authentic. When the game first starts in StarFire it looks exactly like nineties first person shooters look like. And going from that point on the game absolutely nails the graphical look of the games from that era. Problems do arise however. The game has awful draw distance which in the earlier level isn’t noticeable but specifically in the Elder Scrolls-inspired section which is open and big you can see how short and painfully obvious the draw distance is. At one point in the game a car disappeared while standing next to it and the spot where the car was still had the hitbox. When walking away it spontaneously reappear. but aside from some graphically bad glitches the game suffers from a problem far worse. It’s fairly glitchy. At one point the game just crashed for no reason and it didn’t happen after it either. Another glitch encountered was that the game decided to skip trough the dialogue. The text scrolled by at an unreadable pace and there was no sound accompanying it. And while weird glitches can happen, even if the examples set are pretty bad it doesn’t excuse the awful drops in frame rate for a game that at it’s best looks like a late Gamecube game. It wouldn’t be a problem if the enemy encounters closed the players of from progressing but it doesn’t. Instead players can run past a lot of stuff(certainly in the last level) which results in the game not despawning enemies and spawning in extra enemies. The game doesn’t push the PlayStation 4 to any of its limits yet it manages to run at ten to fifteen frames per second when there is too much going on. It’s incomprehensible and inexcusable for the game to run that badly considering not only the graphical look of the game but also the fairly low amount of enemies that get spawned in. These are the things that make Bedlam on the Playstation 4 a rough and extremely flawed experience.

Bedlam_20151011141741The game nails the graphical look of the game it’s referencing.

 

bedlam verdict
The good: The Bad:
+good humor – awful performance issues
+great nostalgic feeling when playing – doesn’t play well with a controller
+cool idea – really bad level design

Bedlam is written well and really funny. The levels of authenticity that went into creating the level’s art style and weapons is admirable and invokes a strong sense of nostalgia that any fans who played any of the Shooters referenced back in the day will appreciated and love. The problems with Bedlam are bad but it feels like most can be avoided if played on the PC. Aside of the controls being probably better on PC there probably aren’t any problems with the frame rate and such. All in all people will really like Bedlam if it work and is played on PC but as it is right now Bedlam on the Playstation 4 will be a bad experience.

2 out of 5:

2ster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

writer’ note: As I tried to state in my review the PlayStation version certainly is an inferior experience if not frustrating but I don’t hate this game. Despite all the problems I really loved it for the most part and will certainly get it on Pc and when that happens I will re-review this game but on the PC and see if it’s fun there, which I think it will be. Not because it’s necessarily super well designed but because of the humor and nostalgic trip.

I'm a fun loving guy who like piña coladas, getting caught in the rain and long walks on the beach. I work hard, I play hard. Must like cats. Ugos need not apply. If you want to ask me anything you can contact me at yordi.verhoene@gmail.com