The Bunker (Xbox One) Review

By Sandy Wilson 30.09.2016

Review for The Bunker on Xbox One

Wales Interactive is blazing an old trail, trying to breathe life into a dead genre with a psychological horror FMV game, The Bunker (read the earlier PS4 review). Co-developed with Splendy Games, it provides a fully live action narrative, with actors from The Hobbit, Assassin's Creed and Game of Thrones. Set in a real decommissioned nuclear bunker in Essex, The Bunker hopes to provide a unique experience and to relight the fire of FMV gaming.

Reintroducing FMV gaming in such a stellar and polished title is really, really cool. What the developer has produced is a fantastic dramatic TV episode with some top notch British acting and an intriguing, well thought out story. As the title suggests, the game is set in a bunker built to shelter people in the event of a nuclear war. Something has happened to the residents, and the main character is eventually the only survivor, living out his daily routine until stuff starts going awry. The tone and pacing are great. The Bunker slowly reveals plot points via flashbacks and other means, building up intrigue by giving little titbits before piecing everything together in a wonderful finale.

The cinematography is great, with some really interesting camera angles that complement the growing feeling of dread by deliberately restricting views of the environment and of anything else that might be lurking. The clothing styles and the old tech makes the bunker feel like a fallout vault, albeit a realistic one, which is a great time period—a time where nuclear paranoia was driving people mental… Only, in this timeline, a war does happen and radiation leaks are frequent.

The setting is dripping with atmosphere even when it's at its least convincing—i.e. when it feels a bit Doctor Who-like—with some great visual design and carefully placed musical cues to bring a little mood to the scene. The acting is, for the most part, excellent, with each actor portraying their feelings to a high degree and generally being pretty easy to sympathise with. Relatable characters make for a much more engaging experience than some big guy with lots of power. Playing as the timid John as he embarks on his mysterious journey is engaging and interesting.

Screenshot for The Bunker on Xbox One

The biggest question is: is The Bunker really a game? It is a great experience, but the player input is limited, and rightly so considering how hard and expensive it is to put together so much live action content. The gameplay is restricted to a few point-and-click scenes, "quick time" events, and a little bit of button mashing. During the more puzzle-based scenes, the point-and-click gameplay is fun, if a little simplified. It usually depends on listening to the character's thoughts to solve a puzzle, but there are a couple of reasonably inventive and logical teasers in there.

Button mashing and other timed presses help lend a bit of tension to the situation, as well as making sure focus is kept on each scene, but it doesn't seem to matter whether these are failed or not in some instances. Incidentally, aside from the reservations above, the gameplay is still fun, and it's nice to be able to interact. It provides a welcome parallel to games like Heavy Rain, which is in a similar vein.

The sound design is also fantastic, with some really oppressive music and background noises that ramp up the terror when needed. It has that essential horror vibe, but with enough interjections of lighter tones, and maybe even a couple of heart-warming bits. The echoes on the voice work, the sounds of the old computers booting up, security cameras, pipes clanging, doors opening, hinges creaking—all are fantastic! With a near perfect audio level mix, it has the perfect accompaniment to the great visuals.

Screenshot for The Bunker on Xbox One

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Dripping with a rich atmosphere, The Bunker brings FMV back in a big way. Its intriguing story setup, the setting, and plot twist provide an unforgettable experience. While it's not hugely interactive, it is hugely enjoyable, and well worth a look from people who like horror, BBC programmes, and the tasty spices of a period drama. Stellar work from a team that will hopefully want to make more games in a similar style!

Developer

Splendy Games

Publisher

Wales Interactive

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

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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