John is having a bad day. Thirty years after a nuclear detonation decimated the outside world, John’s mother dies leaving him the sole survivor of a small underground bunker. For a while, routine keeps John safe and sane, until the life support systems fail. John is completely out of his depth and the only way he’ll survive is to explore the bunker and face the ghosts of his past.
The Bunker is a narrative driven FMV game – a cross between Telltale’s episodic adventures and the early 90s PC and Sega CD games. For an indie title, the production values are incredibly high. The Bunker comes in at around two hours long. Remove the interactive elements and Wales Interactive would have a decent film on their hands. The cinematic quality is high. The atmosphere is claustrophobic and unsettling. It’s everything you would want from a suspense thriller.
The three main actors give excellent performances. Acting is something I don’t typically have the opportunity to discuss in a game review. Adam Brown is perfectly cast as John. His child-like appearance and uncertainty convincingly portray someone who has lived a sheltered life. Sarah Greene plays Johns mother who we learn would do anything to protect her son and Grahame Fox plays the harsh, militaristic leader of the survivors who regularly clashes with John’s mum.
The plot is simple but gives you plenty of reasons to root for John to succeed through his harrowing experience. The history of the bunker and the survivors are explored through flashbacks occurring throughout with their ultimate fate revealed as John nears the end of his journey. The Bunker’s story is self-contained. It never explores the whys or how’s of the nuclear detonation and the outside world. Despite this, John’s journey is wrapped up in a satisfying conclusion.
Unfortunately, the gameplay is quite weak as there is very little for the player to do. The Bunker plays like a lite point and click adventure. Click on an object and John will walk over to interact with it. It’s typically opening doors and pressing buttons. Several quick time events can result in death although simply restarting the scene and paying more attention the next time around will suffice. There was one puzzle that involved figuring out the key code for a door lock based on the bloody fingerprints left on the keys. It was a clever puzzle that felt natural to the narrative. I would have loved more of this. Sadly this was the only puzzle in the game.
The Bunker clearly sets new heights for FMV games. It looks and feels like a movie and is just as cinematic as an AAA game, possibly even more so. The plot is compelling with enough twists and turns that I had no idea where it was going, and the character’s motivations are convincing. I questioned how I’d act in similar circumstances. I would have liked more puzzles and branching story paths depending on how I performed in the QTEs. In saying that, I highly recommend The Bunker for fans of cinema, although gamers may not find much here.
The Bunker is available now for PC, PS4 and Xbox One. I reviewed the PC version.
Michael Vane is a freelance journalist and co-editor of PN2. He’s on Twitter @DrVane