Published on August 11th, 2014 | by Dougie Wythe0
Bedlam is a unique indie title, adapted from the Christopher Brookmyre novel of the same title. Rather than telling the exact same story as the book, we’re put into the place of Heather Quinn and offered her perspective as she’s sucked into the world of Starfire, a retro sci-fi shooter. In the real world, Heather is a programmer for Neurosphere, the same company the novel’s hero, Ross Baker, works for. Yet, in the world of Starfire, Heather’s nothing more than a simple grunt of the first level. Existing for no other reason than to be gunned down instantly. With a quick trigger finger and modders giving you the occasional helping hand, Heather is going to have fight her way through Starfire and the past 20 years of gaming history to get back to the real world. This may be the same world and premise as the book but it has a different perspective, offering a new story for those who are a fan of the novel. Much like playing the Blue Shift Expansion for Half-Life, the original protagonist will be running around in the world, adding a sense of excitement at the possibility of crossing paths with the book’s story.
Described as a ‘Genre Jumping Shooter’, Bedlam will have you travel through many interlocking gaming worlds. Despite the game being fixed to the first perspective, you’ll explore other genres as you break through to the worlds of other games and explore their style and genre. Whether it’s the arcade classic Space Invaders or a Real Time Strategy, you’ll be exploring this world from Heather’s eyes and with your guns at the ready. As of the early release, there will be two of these differing game genres accessible, with more being added in the following months, with the ending being promised as ‘everything at once’. This is an intriguing and exciting concept that’s made me eager to see what genre could come up and what diverse gaming landscapes we’ll experience in the adventure.
Bedlam works as a living documentation of shooters from the 90’s and reaching to more modern games. The inspiration from Doom and Quake alike are apparent from the outset. The monstrous enemies, simple reload animation of guns that float in the centre of the screen and graphics that certainly feel 20 years old. This is far from a bad thing. Nostalgia may be a key aspect of the game, but it’s the story and the evolution of shooters that unfold before your eyes that’s the truly intriguing part. The opening level is littered with the simple minded enemies we were familiar with in Quake. Standing out in the open, waiting to be shot and offering very little challenge. Yet as the game goes on, as does the gaming history it borrows from. The difficulty and graphics evolve as you jump to different games and progress through levels. Starting with the simplistic Doom-like engine and slowly getting more and more detailed as you venture further into time. The World War Two era of shooters offers a more detailed world alongside smarter AI and we can expect this to escalate further as the game progresses. As the game jumping doesn’t stick to just shooters, we can expect to venture into the likes of medieval towns from Role Playing Games and Adventure games and even beyond that. With such a large history of games, locations, genres and scenarios to draw from, Bedlam has so much potential and opportunity with where it can lead the player.
A key part of gaming history are glitches and mods and this means they’re an important part of Bedlam. Glitches are nothing game breaking or something to be reported, but rather something to search for as they hold portals to a bizarre dark realm. This is where ‘modders’ in the real world will leave weapons from other games for you to use throughout the campaign. This can range from a magic sword, which can launch fire balls, to a futuristic sticky grenade launcher. All to be used against your current adversary, whether it’s the invading Germans of a French Town or the Integrity who are not a fan of you jumping between games and want to stop you at all costs. Once you own these lethal presents from the modders, they’re yours to keep and use as you wish when replaying previous levels.
Here is our interview with Christopher Brookmyre and Nick Witcher for a deeper insight into Bedlam
Bedlam will be in early access on Steam as of the 8th of August as a chance for the entire community to play the game before the full release. The early access offers the first 2 hours of the game, which roughly translates to a quarter of the story. Yet, with a dedicated team, we’re going to receive ongoing bug fixes and added content to give us the full campaign and game modes. With such a unique premise and aspirations, I’m very eager to see and experience where this game can go. With the prospect of sequels already being planned, the possibilities are boundless. This could be a stand-out title in your steam library and something to be excited about.