After recently playing and loving the game Late Shift, I decided to dig around to find a game similar to it. It was this that led me to The Bunker – a game that gave a lot more promise than it delivered. Maybe this was because I was spoilt by how good Late Shift was and I was looking for something along those lines, but what I got instead was a point and click game – similar to the Monkey Island or Telltale series’, but with a live action twist. This game wasn’t unpleasant to play but wasn’t quite as good as I was expecting.
I’ve always been something of an end-of-the-world fanatic, and I think that this was what initially drew me to The Bunker. The idea of a post-apocalyptic world with civilisation gone to hell, watching people struggle to survive and adapt to their new life, is as interesting as it can get for me. Then why was it that the Bunker seemed to fall so far from my graces in such a short amount of time?
For starters, it’s very linear. The story doesn’t divert very much from its straight and narrow path. Don’t expect to find any hidden locations or things you might have missed; the story is beginning to end pretty much exactly the same however you choose to play it. It’s not exactly customisable… With Late Shift, there were tons of options you could choose that would affect the outcome of the story, and it’s clear that there were multiple takes of the same scene, with the actors having very subtle changes to suit your choices that lead you to that point. It was very endearing, and although the production values in The Bunker are better, the quality of work isn’t. The acting, on the other hand, is great. Adam Brown (The Hobbit, Pirates of the Caribbean) plays an exceptional lead role, portraying perfectly a man that has very little people skills.
The story follows John, a man born in a bunker following a nuclear strike which wiped out anybody that did not hide in bunkers underground. At the start of the game, John’s mother Margaret, is dying. After she dies, you realise that John is now the only one left. Throughout the game, you get short snippets of life with John as a child in the bunker, and the people that once lived there. When radiation starts leaking into the bunker, John must fight to save himself from radiation poisoning.
The story is the main interest during gameplay. Trying to discern what happened to the other survivors is possibly the only driving force behind the narrative. It’s a very short and limited story but it is extremely well written. The story takes plenty of twists and turns and keeps you on your toes throughout. The gameplay is quite boring. It is a typical point and click adventure, but with everything laid out in front of you in such a linear and easy to find fashion it is impossible to feel challenged, unless you’re particularly terrible at button bashing.
Tapping the X button (on the PlayStation 4) until a meter fills or moving your cursor into a circle and pressing the X button to overcome obstacles and challenges can only be described as boring and lazy, and I’d rather not have them at all. Button bashing for the sake of it seems very dull, and it’s about as exciting as this game gets when it comes to action sequences.
The way that The Bunker handles music is excellent. At times you feel like you are in a horror game. It reminded me a lot of the game Gone Home, that filled you with dread and fear as you played, not knowing what was coming. But in the end that is the sole intention of the music in these games, to make you feel ill at ease and like you are constantly in danger when really you are perfectly safe. In this game’s case it is purely psychological and inside the character John’s head, due to being alone and living in the bunker all his life. The music is subtle and eerie. A lot of the game you hardly notice any sound, but sound effects in time with a scene are something straight out of a horror, and there was more than one moment in The Bunker that I felt a chill down my spine.
In terms of replayability, there is very little. At the end of the game you are greeted with multiple endings, the first time in the game you have been given a choice. But ultimately it feels like your decisions won’t amount to much, as to be honest both endings were quite disappointing. If you’re a completionist, there are small dolls scattered throughout the game that are easy to find and collectible, and if you wanted to see both endings then it might be worth another play. But personally, I don’t recommend playing more than once.
The Bunker is a nice attempt at making a live action point and click adventure. The setting is great, but I would have liked to have seen them do more with it. Wales Interactive should take another look at Late Shift, and take the successes from there in their next release. The company are excellent, and I wholeheartedly support what they do, and I’m excited to see what they come up with next.
But I hope that the next game they release is more interactive than this one, with a more diverse story that puts you in the front seat instead of at the very back, hammering the X button and hoping that they will listen.
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