The Bunker Review

By Marc Hollinshead, 3 months ago
Graphics have played an increasingly bigger part in games in this generation. If a game doesn't have good graphics, then many people will sadly disregard it entirely as the eye candy isn't up to their standard. The ultimate dream for many is to see every game looking as real as the world around us, causing us to widen our eyes in astonishment. What if I told you of an existing game that matches that exact criteria, though? It's not any of your awkward looking SEGA stuff either. Let's enter into The Bunker, a game that is completely played out in live-action. You won't be finding anything fake here. The entire game is as real as real can be and you have a part to play in how the action unfolds. Is live-action something that gaming has truly mastered yet, or is there still some work to be done?

He's as shocked as we areHe's as shocked as we are

If we consider all the games that have been released this year, or even in recent years, The Bunker is one-of-a-kind. It begins with a cutscene to set up the story and it's not the happiest of beginnings. From what we can gather, a devastating nuclear bomb has wiped out a huge chunk of civilisation and the bunker in which we reside is the only safe haven. John, the last remaining survivor in this bunker, continues his daily routine in an attempt to live a normal life despite the circumstances, but of course, things don't stay quite so simple. This is a psychological horror game. John isn't going to have a good time. Without spoiling the story, things go pear-shaped. This middle-aged man who has spent his entire life in a giant bomb shelter has to face up to problems that he has never had to deal with before. It's actually rather compelling and has just the right amount of tension to make you constantly feel uneasy without throwing countless jump-scares and gore at you.

The acting in The Bunker is also very believable. Adam Brown who plays grown up John has somehow managed to convey what can only be described as a scared little boy in an adult body. Throughout his journey in the bunker, John will be terrified by what's round the corner and his facial expressions and frightful cries do a superb job in causing us to feel sorry for him. He doesn't really know what to do and that's apparent throughout the whole game. We also see flashbacks of his earlier life when those around him were able to help him. John's mother, played by Sarah Greene, always comes across as calm and collected while also being extremely loving towards her son and it's clear as to why John is as timid as he is at thirty years old. They are well written parts and certainly amplify the overall mood that the game is trying to create.

You'll be seeing plenty of thisYou'll be seeing plenty of this

In the gameplay department, The Bunker plays out as a point-and-click title. You will be faced with specific areas and objects, and you will tell John what to interact with and watch him perform that action. With live-action being fully integrated into this as well, one might think that it could feel awkward. Thankfully that is not the case. If John is on the screen while you are deciding what to click, he won't be a strange still image. Instead, he will naturally sit (or stand) there and wait for you to tell him what to do next, even if he is crying in pain or terror. If you wait long enough, you'll eventually realise that John's actions repeat when choosing what to do, though. While noticeable in some sections, this is understandable as the developers and actors can only do so much. It can break the natural flow of the action if you happen to come across it constantly, but this is only a minor gripe as far as the entire game goes.

What is even more impressive is the amount of choice you have in certain sections of the game. Live-action has been anything but a hindrance and there are entire rooms that you could completely miss if you aren't vigilant enough. If you attempt to open a door or do something that John cannot or won't do, he will aptly say or even do something that shows that area is currently off limits. It helps to keep both the acting natural and have you feel like you're in control and not just watching a long film.

To expand this point further, The Bunker has a number of collectibles to find. The majority of these either come in the form of John's handmade toy collection or documents that explain more of the backstory. The documents are especially interesting as they are also real and are even read out to you by those who wrote them. They enticed me to search everywhere I could so that I can find every possible object with which I could interact. Even the likes of voice recordings in old cassette players can be discovered. The only downside here is that there is no chapter select or second chances with collectibles. If you miss any, you will have to start a brand new game and find them all again in one go. For us achievement hunters, that could be a nuisance so be extremely careful when coming into a new area.

Be sure to read and listen to everything you can!Be sure to read and listen to everything you can!

Once you've completed your first playthrough of The Bunker and realise that you've probably missed a collectable or two, you'll realise that it's actually quite a short game. This is the type of game that, like many horror-based titles, is only at its full potential when you experience it for the first time. For the few hours that you play it initially, it can be brilliant, but then once you discover that absolutely nothing in the game can be skipped, sitting through a cutscene and forcing John down some stairs just for the sake of one collectable at the end of a chapter can be slightly tedious. Racing through the game knowing what's on the other side still brings its own amusements, though.

In the first couple of hours of playing The Bunker, there were a few times where the game froze and/or crashed. This was rather frustrating, especially when you had to do an entire section again or even miss a cutscene because the game decided to stop working just before it. A small issue with the actual game itself is that on the very few occasions where John might fail to do something or you fail crucial quick-time events, you will have to restart and waste thirty seconds to a minute of your time repeating what you just previously did. These are obstacles that live-action games may struggle to cross currently, but it's still unwanted nonetheless.

What could possibly be down there?What could possibly be down there?


The Bunker has twenty eight achievements in total and while a decent chunk of these are gained through natural progression, the rest are awarded for your eagle eyed exploration. John will need to find all of his toys, as well as everything else that the bunker is hiding within its walls. There is also one peculiar achievement for finding the missing puzzle piece, but that's up to you to discover for yourself. Overall, it's a simple enough list that can be achieved by anyone willing to do an extra playthrough.

Summary

The Bunker is a special game in that it tries to be different from everything else. The way in which it plays out completely in live-action is extremely commendable and it's executed very well in the core point-and-click gameplay. The cast also play their parts very well, especially John's actor who perfectly conveys the character's utter terror to everything around him. Live-action does bring with it some issues, though, as the game can repeat cycles of actions when John is on the screen and the game itself suffers from some bugs. Despite potentially missing them and voiding them from your playthrough, the collectibles help to enrich the story and enlighten players on the bunker's creepy backstory. The developers have done a great job in creating a tense adventure and if you're simply curious in seeing what it's like to play a live-action game, or if you're up for a little atmosphere in your next title, then The Bunker is certainly worth the trip.
4 / 5
Positives
  • Effective tension and atmosphere
  • Excellent acting from main characters
  • Live-action meshes well with gameplay
  • Collectibles enhance the story and feel worthwhile
Negatives
  • Missing collectibles can be a nuisance
  • Bugs leading to the game crashing a few times
  • Repeated live-action animations when the player slows progress
Ethics Statement
The reviewer spent approx. 6-7 hours playing through the game twice and feeling sorry for poor John. He's still trying to find that missing puzzle piece as well. 26 of the game's 28 achievements were earned in the process. A code for the game was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.
Marc Hollinshead
Written by Marc Hollinshead
To summarize Marc in two words, it would be "Christian Gamer." You will usually find him getting stuck into story heavy action-adventure games, RPG's and the odd quirky title when he isn't raving about Dark Souls and Mass Effect. Outside the world of gaming, Marc attends and helps out in his church on a regular basis and has a not-so thrilling job in a supermarket.