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Score: 60%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Vision Games Publishing Limited
Developer: RedBedlam
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: First Person Shooter/ Classic/Retro/ Action

Graphics & Sound:

There is a certain amount of excitement surrounding a game that is based on the lore of yesteryear, and it seems that recently, this has caught on to both the videogame (Eat Lead) and film industry (Pixels, Wreck it Ralph). Christopher Brookmyre has written a work of fiction that basically surrounds this type of lore, and that has been translated into the game that lies before us, Bedlam.

Out of the box, most present-day gamers will see Bedlam’s visuals and immediately be turned off. Even as a gamer of, shall we say, "experience," I felt the same way. However, the game has to be given a fair chance because it is striving to provide graphics that rival the 1990s’ console and PC gaming. In a small way, Bedlam accomplishes this but still fell short of its goal, in my opinion. It’s almost as if the developers wanted to go old-school, but couldn’t fully commit. I get it… engines have changed and it may be a bit hard to capture the era perfectly, but admittedly I wanted more. On top of that, level design was pretty basic at best, and could have been a bit more thought out (or fleshed out, as it were). Still, the developers do get an A for effort in their attempt to capture many past stereotypes and game-specific parody-type visuals.

The audio in Bedlam varied as well, depending on where you were in the game’s ever-changing levels. For the most part, the game does a decent job of presenting level and enemy-specific auditory cues that lend themselves to the time period represented. One ever-present aspect of the audio is the main character’s inner and outer dialogue, as well as that of NPCs. While overall the sound quality feels professionally done, I have to admit that I did have a hard time understanding the main character’s Scottish accent and I felt like that took a bit away from the game’s story just enough to serve as a bit of a disconnect.


Bedlam’s storyline takes place in a gaming universe that happens behind the on-screen pixels. Our heroine is a girl gamer named Heather Quinn who gets caught up in the "gameverse" hidden behind her favorite avatar name, Athena. The premise of the story is that Athena has to work her way through a series of games that have taken place over the course of video gaming history, all in the form of a First Person Shooter. The hook is that this gameverse is collapsing and all remaining within will be destroyed, so Athena needs to work her way through the glitches that are present in order to find her way out. In all, the storyline itself is semi-solid and makes a lot of references to real-world titles that we have grown to love over the years. It was refreshing to see someone use the creative license of parody to do so.

As Athena, you will travel throughout many eras of gameplay, picking up a variety of FPS-style weapons that will aid you in your process. There really is a nice variety of weaponry at your disposal, but honestly it felt a bit odd to take iconic era-themed guns across generations and styles of games-within-the-game. Not only was shooting a laser in WWII a bit out of place, for example, but it was also a bit unfair. The bigger problem I had with the balance of attacks was that there was little indication of not where, but when you may pick up more ammunition for a specific gun. Clearly, each themed level only offered its respective styles of armories, but beyond that, I constantly wondered if I should be saving certain ammo for special occasions throughout the game.

Bedlam could have thrived, but fell short of expectations by quite a bit. The gameplay itself felt a bit repetitive at times and really didn’t seem to have a lot of substance (well, to be fair, that goes for a lot of FPS games). I had hoped for more and walked away somewhat disappointed as a whole, although admittedly there was still a sense within that the game would get better and that is what kept me playing. Unfortunately, this never truly came to fruition as far as my expectations were concerned.


Bedlam was a mixed bag as far as difficulty was concerned. There were a couple of situations where, because of my most recent save not being ideal, it was a bit difficult to get through and it took a few attempts. That said however, overall the game played pretty consistently easy as long as Athena didn’t always go in guns blazin’. While that approach did work out a few times, crafty movement and timed shots made short work of most baddies – ranging from cute little critters to alien rangers – without too much extra effort. One of the big concerns I had, as mentioned before, was the balance between different weapons. Depending on whether or not you decided to conserve your special ammo or used it all up, that made a HUGE difference on how easy or difficult certain enemies became.

As a whole, however, the enemy A.I. was extremely predicable and, as such, the gameplay’s quality suffers a lot. In fact, if it weren’t for the ridiculous long-rang accuracy of the enemies, the game would have been far too easy. Combining that with some of the simplistic level design elements, Bedlam fell short in the toughness that is almost expected in the First Person Shooter genre. Once again, it was easy to leave the game feeling like something was missing… always waiting for that breakthrough moment of expected delight.

Game Mechanics:

Bedlam’s controls on PC will likely heavily favor the keyboard and mouse for most gamers out there, so most of my own play was based on that. The controls really played flawlessly, so it is easy to give a big thumbs up here. Standard WASD and Mouse controls move your player, along with Spacebar to jump, (E) to interact, and (V) to slice up-close enemies. Everything is within quick reach and mimics most setups for the genre. Additionally, the mouse scroll wheel or keyboard numbers can be used to switch weapons at any time.

On the flip side, the game also allows for gamepad controller support so I chose to bust out an Xbox One controller, wired to the PC. The controls performed as well as can be expected in lieu of the more precise mouse control, but that doesn’t take away from the nice button layout and other controls. One great feature is that the D-pad acts as a hat controller that groups weapon-switching horizontally and vertically to like weapons. It is a bit strange at first if you are not used to such a thing, but has its benefit of being able to cycle the number of weapons more quickly than a single direction.

Bedlam is one of those titles where you truly wish it would have emerged not just as a gimmick game with a potentially fun storyline, but also as a solid FPS title in its own right. While the story had its moments of engagement, for the most part, I simply wanted to move on to the next portion of the game because it was a bit forgettable. As for the latter FPS appeal, there are many more games out there for the same cost in both indie and older AAA titles that may be worth a look over this one. While Bedlam can account for some mildly entertaining hours of play, I caution you to not expect brilliance going in or you may just come out feeling disappointed.

-Woody, GameVortex Communications
AKA Shane Wodele

Minimum System Requirements:

Windows XP or later; Dual Core 2GHz; 2GB RAM; Any DirectX 9 level (shader model 2.0) capable graphics card; DirectX v9.0; 4GB available HDD space; Any DirectX compatible sound card

Test System:

Windows 7 Pro 64-bit; Intel Core i7-5930K CPU @ 3.50GHz (12 CPUs); 32GB RAM; Keyboard/Mouse & Xbox One Controller

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