Dead in Bermuda (PC) Review

By Jordan Hurst 28.08.2015

Review for Dead in Bermuda on PC

Survival mechanics are one of those things that sound like they would make a really cool game…until someone actually tries to make that game. Amidst the sea of power fantasies and general unreality that gaming provides, the idea of fighting just to find a character's next meal or place to sleep promises an interesting interlude. At least, it would if that idea was remotely entertaining. Good survival games almost never rely solely on their survival mechanics; This War of Mine uses them to reinforce its unparalleled antiwar sentiment, while Minecraft and State of Decay merely have them as one ingredient in their genre stews. It's mainly for this reason that Dead in Bermuda is not a good survival game. It's perfectly playable, but playing it isn't really worth anyone's time.

Occasionally interesting features, such as characters' affections modifying how well they co-operate, are largely overwhelmed by clichéd story and gameplay elements. On the story side, eight plane crash survivors of diverse nationalities and dispositions regroup on a remote island, where they must work together to survive. They soon discover that their situation may be more than it seems, as the island is home to surreal wildlife and uncanny humans enamoured with cryptic dialogue. The influence of Lost is palpable, right down to the ending, whose nonchalant nature feels almost like an intentional antithesis to the show's notoriously overwrought finale, while still being similarly anticlimactic. Fortunately, Dead in Bermuda also imitates the show's character focus, so its own personalities are well-rounded, and their interactions are alternately funny, heartwarming, and belligerent - in other words, human.

Screenshot for Dead in Bermuda on PC

As for the gameplay, there's the genre-standard suite of features: the survivors can craft tools, explore the island, and forage for food, while also keeping their fatigue, health, and depression in check by sleeping, using medical supplies, and conversing, respectively. Multiple survivors can collaborate on certain tasks, leading to increased productivity and (usually) an improved character relationship. These efforts are supplemented by semi-random events encountered in the wilderness and character interactions at the end of each day. These interactions are often cleverly constructed to affect every possible inventory or statistic at least once, although they are tarnished by not accounting for current statistics, leading to peculiar situations where amicable characters complain about not getting along.

Screenshot for Dead in Bermuda on PC

Aside from the scrolling base camp that could have easily fit on a single screen, the interface for directing all of this is straightforward and functional, with bold icons easily conveying exactly what will happen when the "advance time" button is pressed. Interface design is where the good decisions end, though, as this contains several structural faults. Specifically, the linear progression and 15-hour story are totally at odds with games of this ilk. Survival titles have a conclusive failure state by definition, so if one is also going to have a success state, either that conclusion needs to be attainable in one or two sittings, or there needs to be a fair amount of variety to keep players engaged across multiple retries. 15 hours is obviously too long for the former, and the latter is noticeably absent thanks to minimal mechanical overlap and a tech tree consisting only of trunk.

It initially seems like an act of mercy, then, that the need for retries is eliminated by being pitifully easy. However, all that does is drain any tension from the main playthrough. It takes about 70 in-game days to reach the ending, but the point at which the survivors' setup becomes perfectly sustainable is hit around Day 30. The remaining days are spent carrying out a tiresome routine, hoping that the next exploration event will advance the story. It doesn't help that the RPG elements (wherein characters' effectiveness is determined by 16 upgradeable skills) are woefully lopsided. Certain traits are vastly superior to others and, by extension, so are certain characters. A mix of skill points distributed manually and earned automatically through experience attempt to offset this, but the inclusion of a stat that determines the number of manual skill points available to each person collapses any notion of balance.

Screenshot for Dead in Bermuda on PC

The combination of a dire premise and ephemeral challenge highlights Dead in Bermuda's constant issues with tone. In particular, the mopey soundtrack and character body language ring hollow after Day 30 when everything becomes little more than a tropical camping trip. Conversely, the visuals' deep colours and comic book style are practical but out of place in such a subdued, deliberately paced experience. The dialogue, while largely endearing and mature, is saddled with a problematic translation, resulting in phrases like, "I heard your stomach grumping," and the normally serious narration labelling characters "Creepy Guy" and "Scrawny Dude." At least the sound effects add some satisfying ticks and chimes to improving skills and accomplishing tasks.

Screenshot for Dead in Bermuda on PC

Cubed3 Rating

4/10
Rated 4 out of 10

Subpar

Dead in Bermuda is a game about solid characters that doesn't have any character of its own. It's an uninspired title with a warped sense of progression, most notable for the inevitably divisive conclusion waiting for users who stick with it for 15 hours. That probably won't be a very large percentage, because this is, at best, mildly fulfilling in the same way a run-of-the-mill MMO can be: because humans are instinctively fascinated by rising meters and numbers. Anyone who wants some engaging gameplay with their numerical Skinner box would be better served elsewhere.

Developer

CCCP

Publisher

Plug In Digital

Genre

Strategy

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  4/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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