Bedlam (PS4) Review

A history class in the digital age.

First person shooters have come a long way over the years. They started off with 2D sprites, moved to rudimentary polygons, and now the genre looks borderline realistic. What if you were taken back though, to a time before the internet took over the world by storm. Before games developed into huge cinematic set piece driven stories. Would you want to go back to that time is the better question.

Kicking it Old School

Players are Heather Quinn, who is testing technology for a company called Neurosphere. She decided to become a test subject for a new product, and suddenly she is in an old, extremely blocky and dated first person shooter. She ponders what she is doing there, picks up a gun, and starts blasting bad guys, as it’s her only option.

MSRP: $19.99
Platforms: PS4, XB1, PC
Would pay $5.00
Multiplayer: N/A
How long to beat: Three hours

The visuals are extremely dated and that’s the point. Imagine Quake today with low and blurry textures, odd shaped characters, and things sort of resembling a gun. It’s fun to get a virtual history lesson in how games used to look, and without a nostalgia glasses on to skew players perspective. They pretty much suck, but they were a staple of the time and advances in gaming, and I’d be hard pressed not to show some appreciation for them here.

Visuals are not the only thing dates the experience though. The controls are simple enough, lacking a reload, and to the point. Aim, jump, and shoot while collecting weapons and activating doors, checkpoints, and other interactions with the environment. To say the game feels completely static is an understatement. It’s not pretty, but it’s authentic. Sounds are decent and voice acting plays a huge part in the story, granted the voice acting is mostly a miss. It sounds off, low key, and just lacking a punch that could have elevated the story to a higher level. Though there was one segment that involved a faux online arena multiplayer map that had fake kids chatting and calling the character names and stating they should go back to COD because “this game is old”, which got quite a laugh from me.

Dated in the wrong ways

With its dated visuals also comes dated mechanics. Lack of health regen, or even that many health pickups making dying a pain. Add the fact that checkpoints are few and far between, players can find themselves redoing moments in the game over and over again. It’s authentic as well, but perhaps should have been dropped in favor of reducing player frustration. The game starts off extremely easy, but then later starts to ramp up, and I found myself just wanting to quit and never come back at times.

Bedlam is an interesting experience, and one that older gamers can probably appreciate a bit more than the younger generation today. Even with my experience of older games, this is an experience that reminds me how much gaming has evolved over the last few years, and for the better. It’s a nice idea, and in a world where gaming could use more inventive narratives, it succeeds. It just isn’t a very fun game to play, and that’s honestly missing half the point. If the idea behind the game interests you enough, read the book it’s based off of instead.

Review copy of game provided by publisher.

  • Unique premise
  • Nails the visual aspect
  • Tepid voice work
  • Frustrating checkpoints
  • Lacking fun factor
Written by
Justin is a long time passionate fan of games, not gaming drama. He loves anything horror related, archaeology inspired adventures, RPG goodness, Dr Pepper, and of course his family. When it comes to crunch time, he is a beast, yet rabies free we promise.