We recently reviewed genre-hoping FPS Bedlam and was blown away by the unique storytelling tied so intimately into the experience. It’s an odd and clever game that doesn’t always tap into the fun we so often associate with games but instead purposely builds on frustration and unfairness in order to share its story. It’s terrific and awful at the same time, and a nightmare to try and describe, but fortunately Chris Brookmyre, author of both the Bedlam book and the accompanying game, has a new behind-the-scenes video where he takes viewers on a short tour through some of the worlds seen in Bedlam, explaining his thought processes and giving extra details on the creation of the game.
If the video wasn’t enough to tempt you into playing, why not give our review a read.
Bedlam The Game is a peculiar title, one where its missteps as a game are more forgivable because many of them are intentional, and one where the overall story is more important than the minute to minute experience. As such it’s a difficult game to recommend to the majority but a superb representation of the book it’s based on, whether it’s the kind of experience for you or not depends entirely on what you want from playing a game, which is a fascinating question in its own right.
Indeed Bedlam: The Game is based on Bedlam the book, written by Christopher Brookmyre, a novel full of razor-sharp commentary on videogame culture and design wrapped in a fascinating story about AI and player immersion. As a companion to the book it’s brilliant, capturing the same dark, humorous tone and immersing you in a believable facsimile of retro games experienced through the mechanics of a first-person shooter.
Playing as experienced gamer and programmer, Heather Quinn, you initially find yourself in a 90s shooter reminiscent of Quake II. Before long you’re hopping between game-worlds and experiencing parodies of Medal of Honor, Pac-Man, Halo and generic RPGs, all through the perspective and gameplay of a first-person shooter, as you try to find out why you’re stuck in this digital world and how you can escape. It’s a terrific tale told wonderfully through excellent voice acting and a thematically accurate script, but the mechanics themselves are dire.
Weapons are inaccurate and lack impact, the AI is aggressive but utterly stupid, the textures are muddy and lack detail, music and sound effects are indelicately implemented, checkpoints are infrequent and the frame rate regularly chugs when the enemy count increases. It’s a poor offering of game mechanics and production quality that reeks of amateurish and lazy design. But indeed that’s the point. Bedlam: The Game means to torture you with poor checkpoints, ugly aesthetics and predictable AI; what you’re experiencing isn’t the game itself but more the game within the game.
It’s the moments between each game-world where you’re playing the real game, the rest is a purposely built arena for you to experience the retro design elements of the very game it’s parodying. Between the game-worlds are fractured platforming sections with images and email messages you can find that help fill in more of the story, meanwhile other characters contact you via audio chat to explain and drive the narrative forwards. The true object of the game is for you to exploit each game-world with the first-person mechanics you’re stuck with, bringing weapons from other game-worlds with you to carve out slight advantages and making liberal use of the save function in the menu screen to brute-force your way through the increasingly challenging enemy encounters.
Unfortunately this is not immediately evident, partly because the story would otherwise be ruined if all its tricks were revealed at once, so the experience can feel more torturous than is should for large parts of the game. This is less of a problem within the initial game-world; the fictional game of Starfire plays precisely how you remember the likes of Quake II playing, with a highly familiar sci-fi setting and the traditional slow projectiles, but once you jump over to the Medal of Honor parody, Death or Glory, the challenge jumps significantly and the nostalgic fun you were having is quickly replaced by frustration. This is intentional, of course, but you don’t really find that out until later, leaving the driving force that keeps you playing up to the narrative.
Fortunately it’s a great story that’s excellently paced, and as frustrating as Bedlam: The Game can get it’s all part of the experience it means to immerse you in. That is accepted for the framerate issues, which can cause some unfair deaths, especially near the end of the game. There’s also a lack of a quick save button, which proves to be a crucial tool. It’s still a fairly quick process to jump into the pause menu and save but this reveals a PC bias that never translated to console.
Bedlam: The Game is a terrific story wrapped in an intentionally bad game, and as such it proves to be an absolutely brilliant companion to the book it’s based on. In fact, thanks to the perspective of a different character in the game it helps compliment the book superbly, but this does mean it’s not the most enjoyable game to play. The nostalgic moments in the odd game-world will strike a nice chord with fans of the original titles they’re based on, and the Pac-Man inspired level is very clever, but you’re unlikely to find much fun here. But perhaps we can play a game in order to experience emotions and situations that are something other than fun. Through play and interaction we can experience these things in a more personal way, and for that Bedlam: The Game should be applauded, and if you’re open to that idea then should absolutely try this title out.
TiX Crowd Funding Spotlight is our latest weekly feature showcasing a selection of projects on the likes of Kickstarter and IndieGoGo that are either being primarily developed for Xbox platforms including Xbox Games for PC/Windows Phone or include stretch goals that will see the project released onto either of those platforms.
In our first weekly edition we have an old PlayStation game ‘Fan Edition’ looking to make its way to Xbox One. A 2006 Xbox 360 classic looking for a revival. An RPG drawing inspiration from Thief, Deus Ex, BioShock, Skyrim and Dragon Age and finally a fan art book looking to raise money in the fight against cancer.
Strength of the SWORD ULTIMATE
Originally a PS3 game, Strength of the Sword gathered a massive following. Now Ivent Games, a two-man team, are hoping to re-release this ultimate fan edition on as many platforms as possible.
The entire original game is ported and polished as part of the new ULTIMATE game. Every location, every blood-thirsty monster from the original campaign will be back with as much bite if not more. New features include a PvP mode, CO-OP mode, Dark mode (hinted at as an awesome asymmetrical PvP marathon!) and an extended single player mode bringing the new ideas of Ivent Games to fruition.
Towards the end of the week, Ivent Games dropped the stretch goal for a current gen console release from $100,000 to $82,000 but there is a catch… backers of the project need to vote here for their console of choice. The winning console, well wins. To see this project released on Xbox One, click the link just gone and get voting!. Currently they’ve raised just shy of $51,449 and have 9 days left. Having passed $43,000 the game will see a release on PS Vita and the Wii U, which although we are happy for Ivent Games we want to help push them to Xbox One. So check out the project using this link and donate if you’d like to see an Xbox One release.
Crystal Quest Classic
Crystal Quest Classic is a revival of the 1987 award-winning video game. The original was played on almost every Macintosh computer in existence before being ported to the Apple IIgs, Amiga and the Game Boy – followed many years in 2006 by a reawakening on the Xbox 360.
All the addictive levels and mesmerising gameplay of the original have been retained in the design of Crystal Quest Classic. The goal is to match the mechanics of the original with even better sound and graphics. Plus the developers want to get it on as many platforms as possible. Although the initial plan is to release it for PC, Mac and Linux, with a little more support and funding Crystal Quest could see itself back on the Xbox platform.
Crystal Quest Classic has only managed to raise just short of $3,000 towards their $14,000 target. That said there are still 7 days left to back the project. So check out the full project page on Kickstarter here support them if this revival is up your street.
Game Artists unite to battle cancer
Gamer for Life is a Fan Art Tribute book. 283 game artists came together and donated 476 art pieces to be used in this campaign to raise funds for the fight against cancer. In 2012 Kevin, a game developer at Blizzard was diagnosed with stage four Alveolar Soft Part Sarcoma, an incredibly rare cancer with no cure and no clear treatment path. This project came to be when those close to Kevin decided they had to do something for their friend and fellow game developer, Kevin Kenai Griffith (KKG). Unfortunately in Oct. 2014 KKG passed away, as the content for the book was completed.
The initial goal for the funds raised by the book was to cover Kevin’s medical expenses. When Kevin passed he had no unpaid medical expenses. Gamers for Good were able to financially support his memorial event. Now 4 months on, word has spread beyond those with personal connections to Kevin and gained interest from around the globe. Artists from Blizzard, Riot, Carbine, Activision, Microsoft, Ready at Dawn, GREE, Tencent, Turtle Rock and many more have all come together to contribute to this book.
In order to try to stay as close to the original intent of the project, the organisers we will be splitting proceeds of this campaign between 2 charities in KKG’s memory; Games Changers and CureASPS. With 18 days left this project is almost there having raised $38,847 of the $40,000 target. Donators will receive a variety of thank you gifts so check out the project page on IndieGoGo and donate what you can.
And finally another project that caught our eye was Underworld Ascendant the rekindling of the Underworld universe. Ultima Underworld (and Ultima Underworld II) are fantasy RPGs that influenced RPG titles like Neverwinter Nights, Skyrim and even BioShock. The project has been picked up by The OtherSide Entertainment who between them have worked on over 25 award-winning games like Deus Ex, Neverwinter Night, Dishonoured, Medal of Honor, Uncharted, Last of Us, BioShock Infinite and many more.
Far more than a dungeon crawler, Underworld Ascendant features a dynamic, player driven narrative, an improvisation engine, intense combat and inventive magic, create your own character class feature and new ‘stretch RPG’ mechanics.
Although not immediately set for a console release, they have a mystery stretch goal yet to be announced. One has to hope that the team with their experience of releasing titles like Dishonoured and BioShock Infinite will make the jump to console, now that would be the perfect final stretch goal. I for one would love to see Underworld Ascendant make it that far.
With 5 days to go until the project runs out of time, The OtherSide Entertainment have managed to raise just their initial target of $600,000 towards development. You can check out the full KickStarter page here including additional detail, concept art and videos.
This isn’t a mistake, not a glitch and a surprising fact to learn that EA has now opened up older games on the Xbox 360 to have their online passes made available for free. If your mouth has just dropped that EA has given something away for free – welcome to the club.
We had previously reported that EA intended to drop the Online Pass, and we came to the assumption that some form of DRM “must” be in place for next-gen rendering the passes on a new console – useless! We was indeed right to assume that, but EA stated prior that future games would not be shipped with Online Passes, we had no idea about past games.
EA Games with Online Passes include Mass Effect 2, Battlefield: Bad Company 2, Alice: Madness Returns, Bulletstorm, Shift 2: Unleashed, Medal of Honor, Dragon Age 2 & many more. This now means that used games can play online without forking out extra cash.
EA’s Chief Operating Officer, Peter Moore, has stated in the latest Investor Call that Medal of Honor is to be “taken out of rotation”. In basic terms it means that the game did pretty crap and having played this bland generic shooter – I hail this as a hallelujah to the first-person-shooter genre. Continue reading EA Kills Off Medal of Honor Based On Low Scores→
Military shooters are all the rage at the moment and Warfighter has moved away from World War settings, much as its competitors have, and thrown its lot in with modern day combat. It attempts to differentiate itself from the obvious competition by attempting to be as realistic as possible, with accurate weapons, missions based on actual events, and less gung ho action to represent the fact that every operation that the army takes on isn’t down to Mr Smith, the man who can sort out all wounds by standing behind cover for a bit. Drudgery and repetition may indeed be an everyday part of a Special Operatives day job but this doesn’t mean it makes a good game. Continue reading Medal of Honor: Warfighter Review→
Danger Close Games, and EA Games has announced recently that it is offering players an open multiplayer beta worldwide for their upcoming game – Medal of Honor Warfighter. In this innovative multiplayer design, the most elite soldiers from 10 different nations will go head-to-head to see who is top dog. Gamers can choose from among 12 Tier 1 units including the British SAS, German KSK, Russian Spetsnaz Alfa Group, Korean UDT and U.S. Navy SEAL as they represent their elite Special Forces online. Continue reading Medal of Honor Warfighter Beta Inbound Early October→