The Bunker Review
When it comes to FMV or live-action video games, we’re not talking about a recent trend, we’re going back 30 or so years, they just don’t appear all that often. The two that immediately spring to my mind are Night Trap and the Mad Dog McCree series. There’s also a big example in recent times of a game that has live-action cutscenes, that game being the 2015 version of Need for Speed. The reason I bring these up is that they’ve always been a good topic of conversation as there aren’t many examples of really good games in this category. But why shouldn’t mixing video games and movies together work, it just needs to be done correctly. For a point-and-click adventure game, merging the two forms together seemed like a perfect fit. Hollow, unfortunately, is a game that maybe shows us that movies and video games should continue on their own separate paths, or at least demonstrates that they still need a lot of work before becoming much better experiences and therefore more prominent.
When I started playing The Bunker, I was openly excited about the experience I was about to embark on, because the premise of the game seemed so fascinating and interesting. Our main character, John, is born whilst everything outside of the bunker is dying because of nuclear attacks. The game then jumps forward 30 years in time and the only people you see left are John and his mother. I was genuinely interested in what had happened and how the game was going to piece itself together. The overriding story itself is a decent one but nothing more than that, but it at least made me want to play through the game so I knew what happened, so it gets that part spot on. Speaking of playing through the game, I would imagine this is the kind of game most would play in one sitting as you can play through the entirety of it in about an hour and a half. Once finished, there isn’t a reason for you to ever go back and play through it again.
The first section of the game has you running through John’s daily routine that teaches you how to press the A Button a few times and nothing more. Because of this, the beginning is so incredibly boring and means that right from the off, the game sucks all of the excitement out of you and it never really recovers from it. From a pure gameplay perspective, there’s a serious lack of involvement and things to do during your playthrough. You get to choose where to go, what to open and what to look at, of course, but you’re literally just pressing the A Button to examine one or two things in a room and then pressing it again to go through a door and so on. In a point-and-click game, I expect a few more things to examine, puzzles to solve or items to pick up that I might have to combine with others. Here, there just isn’t any of that.
There are some quick time events that are implemented which have you either pressing inside of a circle that’s randomly placed on the screen or rapidly tap the A Button. This is about as involved as the game gets in truth. What can make these sections worse, is if you fail at any of them, you’re going to have to replay the whole sequence again and once you’ve seen one scene once, that’s honestly all you want to see of it again.
With it being a live-action game, you would at the very least hope that some of the acting is decent. Well, you’d be wrong. John, who is portrayed by Adam Brown (The Hobbit) is the only actor that’s somewhat convincing, even if his character is overly wimpish and a bit of an idiot. The rest of the actors honestly just seem very amateurish and rather than pull you into the story and everything that’s happening, it’s really off-putting and comical at times, which for a game that wants to be serious, that isn’t what you want.
I went into the game thinking that it had some more horror elements than what I encountered, I could see the potential in there for sure, but nothing ever really happened. I never felt fearful of going into the next room wondering what might be there and I never once jumped. On a good note, the location the game was filmed in looks the part and was actually quite impressive. The lighting is excellent and I don’t really have any bad things to say about the game from that point of view.
The Bunker was a game I really wanted to enjoy. I love the idea of mixing movies and video games as they are two things I am massively passionate about but this just doesn’t work. It doesn’t work as a video game and it doesn’t work as a movie. While it looks great, the acting leaves a lot to be desired and there just isn’t any involvement for the player as you’re just pressing the A Button a couple of times here and there without ever really having to make choices. It had potential and any future games can certainly learn a lot from this, but my advice is to stay well away unless you’re absolutely desperate for something to do for an hour or two.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by Wales Interactive