The Bunker (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Renan Fontes 07.04.2018

Review for The Bunker on Nintendo Switch

The best works of art always take advantage of their medium. The greatest film could only be made as a film, and the greatest game could only be made as a game. When it comes to the interactive film genre, the goal should logically be to impart the best aspects of both film and game development to create an unforgettable experience. Of course, this is a task easier said than done. Many games fall into the trap of mistaking a dense narrative with a good narrative. In a genre dedicated almost exclusively to storytelling, the average interactive movie is at risk of prioritising its film side over the game side. The Bunker, unfortunately, is a prime example of not doing enough with the medium.

From his very first breath, The Bunker chronicles the life of a thirty-year-old man named John as he copes with the loss of his mother, his one companion in a post-apocalyptic nuclear bunker. Conceptually, while not entirely unique, the last survivor premise is one full of potential, especially when the last survivor remains as such. Outside of flashback scenes and a few hallucinations, John does not interact with a single character. He genuinely is alone throughout the course of the story, and that loneliness creeps into the atmosphere in an oppressively appropriate way.

As John walks through the bunker, going about his daily routine and trying to prevent a radiation leak, every room is a reminder of the void he lives in. Quite literally, at times. The aforementioned flashbacks give audiences a glimpse at the bunker's inevitable collapse. In a way, these ghosts from the past only hammer home John's loneliness. It's been years since he's had any human contact outside of his mother, and now he is alone in a complete sense. John's isolation wouldn't be nearly as profound without Adam Brown's performance, however. His anxiety comes alive as he forces himself through the bunker and uses his daily routine to mask the loss of his mother. There's one scene in particular, near the end of the story, where John breaks down sobbing after an injury and Brown brings a ferociously raw energy to the scene.

Screenshot for The Bunker on Nintendo Switch

Unfortunately, while Brown's acting is certainly strong, the material he has to work with is far from it. Featuring a team of writers that worked on The Witcher, Broken Sword, and SOMA, there are naturally some expectations in regards to the writing. John should have a character arc, themes should be explored, and the story should build up to a satisfying conclusion that makes sense for the narrative. Unfortunately, none of these ideas are realised. What's worse, the entire script is bogged down by an awkward pace where the first half is too slow and the second half is too fast.

The Bunker's biggest downfall, by far, has to be its multiple endings. Since the narrative can end with John either staying in or leaving the bunker, the script needs to make sense with either ending. As a result, John cannot develop in a way that pushes him towards coming to terms with leaving the bunker or finding comfort in the complacency of his situation. For the endings to work, he cannot change throughout the course of the story. The story's themes also can't favour any particular direction to allow the conclusions to make sense. The decision for multiple endings is one rooted in the videogame format, but it doesn't work considering how much the film-to-game ratio is skewed in favour of the former.

There's very little interaction at play in this interactive film. While John can examine objects and pick up toys from his childhood, there are virtually no puzzles to solve. In fact, most of the gameplay simply involves clicking on objects to trigger the next cut-scene, with the occasional quick-time event. As a game, there's next to no substance. As a film, it's bogged down by its game-like elements. Looped shots, load times, and an insistence on QTEs only serve to hurt the experience. The unfortunate truth is, The Bunker doesn't work as a game, nor does it work as a movie. In every regard, it fails to take advantage of its two mediums and offers a meandering, mediocre mess of an interactive movie with little to no lasting value.

Screenshot for The Bunker on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

4/10
Rated 4 out of 10

Subpar

Despite a compelling performance from Adam Brown, The Bunker fails to capture that same talent in regards to its writing and direction, leading to a messy pseudo-film filled with pacing issues and a lack of commitment to either of the two mediums it's trying to merge. As a videogame, there's very little in the way of actual interaction, with only one real puzzle at the very end. As a film, the inclusion of load times and looped footage break any potential immersion. The story is intriguing enough for what it's worth, and the lonely atmosphere does stand out as particularly strong, but The Bunker mostly meanders for two hours before rushing to a conclusion devoid of thematic or narrative substance.

Developer

Splendy Games

Publisher

Wales Interactive

Genre

Adventure

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 Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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