In the TV series Lost, we see a character named Desmond Hume residing in an underground facility, driven borderline insane by the monotony of his daily routine. Desmond is required to regularly enter a series of numbers on a computer every 108 minutes. While nothing as redundant occurs in The Bunker, the game’s tone, setting, and non-linear storytelling feel directly inspired by a show like Lost.
The Bunker, developed by Slendy Interactive in partnership with Wales Interactive, begins in a post-nuclear war era with the birth of our protagonist, John. He’s born in an underground shelter that houses less than 60 people. However, we quickly flash forward 30 years later to find John alone with his mother. Thus the central mystery reveals itself: what happened to everyone else?
An Alarm Sounds
What separates Slendy Interactive’s first outing from other titles is its aesthetics: everything is live-action. With a runtime of roughly 90 plus minutes, you essentially have yourself a movie. Now the industry hasn’t mastered manipulating a real human being completely. The Bunker is simply a point-and-click thriller, but is still impressive for a developer’s debut game. Unless you’re slow to select the next location and make John stand around looking clueless, the gaming experience itself doesn’t distract from the cinematic quality.
In the midst of John’s daily routine, an error message indicates a system failure somewhere in the facility. This is where the conflict and John’s unease begins. He hasn’t traversed from his floor with his mother much, if ever. Visiting other floors to resolve a mechanical problem sets his nerves off. Actor Adam Brown‘s performance, especially his facial expressions, effectively communicate John’s dread with his predicament.
As you take John along on his mission to repair the electrical and air filter systems, Brown moves timidly along each darkened hallway. With each floor you explore, a seemingly repressed memory rears its ugly head. We begin to see what unfolds with the shelter’s previous occupants via flashback, culminated in the game’s final moments. It’s as disturbing as it is gratifying.
Actress Sarah Greene plays John’s mother and she covers every range of human emotion fathomable by the game’s end. However, I’m intent on avoiding spoilers, so I’ll reference these specifics no further. If you ever throw up your hands during The Bunker‘s story, which can take a stretch to get into, be assured there’s absolutely a pay-off.
Outside of our two leads, the minor characters deliver their lines in a most uncomfortably wooden fashion. Then at certain points where John is simply standing in a hallway, the musical score swells as if hinting at a big reveal or jump scare, but nothing comes.
Mechanically speaking, the game is ultimately not intended to be any sort of challenge. It’s rather unfortunate though, as glimmers of a Quick Time Event (QTE) appear all-too briefly. However, the average gamer will pass these QTEs with flying colors and then some.
Despite any criticisms I levy against The Bunker, the story and high production value compel you to forgive them. This feels like a full-fledged Hollywood production but occasionally the actors arbitrarily stop and wait for a button click. They even filmed this in a real decommissioned bunker. This pays off as it makes your environment feel legitimately previously occupied.
It might be too early for declarations, but I’m predicting this title could see the same success as last year’s live-action mystery game Her Story.
The Mafia series has always been remembered for its amazingly constructed stories. The focus points have always been characters and narrative, and Mafia III continues this trend. Despite an early exposed gameplay loop and some slight graphical issues, I never found myself bored with this seemingly polarizing game.
I grew up with family in New Orleans so the setting of Mafia III, New Bordeaux, really speaks to me. The roaring late 60’s jams gives me vibes of old car trips with my parents and the music of their generation.This game brought up a bunch of old memories that were more than welcomed, so you’ll forgive any bias you pick up while reading the review of how fantastic I found this game.
There is no fast travel, which has been bothering some, but I never use fast travel in any game because I feel it is immersion breaking.Trust me; there is nothing quite like driving through the murky bayous while listening to Credence Clearwater Revival on the radio and singing the song “Born on the Bayou.” With over one hundred licensed tracks from artists like Jimmie Hendrix, Bobby Fuller, and The Troggs, I never found myself hating the long rides to and from mission locations. If I were really these characters in this game, I would have to actually drive the distance, and I think it’s fortunate to have such amazing music to keep you company.
Speaking of the characters, this game is filled with well thought out and written characters. Lincoln Clay is your avatar, and by the end of the journey you will truly feel like you are embodying the man.
Former Black Ops commando Lincoln returns from Vietnam and wages war on the mafia across New Bordeaux when he comes back home to his old crime family to see they have fallen on hard times. Lincoln Clay is more than willing to align himself with unsavory types as he expands his bloody services across the city’s districts. Lincoln will do anything to ensure that the men responsible for atrocities committed in the fantastic opening sct in this game, pay for it.
As you free up certain districts, you will attract one of three underbosses, who come from different backgrounds and walks of life. Lincoln teams up with a female Haitian crime lord, a down on his luck Irish mod boss, and a chastised OG Italian mobster from up north. Among this colorful class is my personal favorite character, Donovan, a crooked federal agent who acts as
And Mafia III’s vengeance-soaked story-line definitely deserves the rank of classic; its performances and narrative could rival those of TV’s and film’s best dramas. The game constantly had me thinking of last generation’s Spec Ops: The Line, one of the best written narratives in the whole medium.
The game weaves multiple timelines together to tell the story. While the actual gameplay occurs within 1968 New Bordeaux, the cut scenes flash forward via a documentary-stylized film. In these scenes, people from Lincoln’s life talk about the man and the legend himself, as these scenes unfold in an interview like manner as they reminisce about all that transpired during the Fall of 1968. One character in these scenes is Father James, who is slowly coming to terms that he helped and aided a friend, Lincoln, who had become a monster. The emotional weight is heavy and rewarding. Other scenes play out in a court room where Donovan is giving a disposition on what transpired in New Bordeaux, and they are equally as well performed. These cut scenes sometimes foreshadow events that are about to transpire. The board of men discussing the debriefing of the events that happened in this game will allude to large chaotic events that happen, and then the game will shift back to 1968 where you assume control as Lincoln Clay and play out those events. This is utilized throughout the game in extremely effective ways.
The gameplay seems to be the polarizing part of Mafia III. The gameplay loop exposes itself very early and never deviates. You get some info from Donovan, head to the district in question, begin to dismantle all the rackets in the region, which then exposes the area’s crime lord, which naturally leads to your assassination of the target. This loop repeats for about 30-40 hours in every district of the city. While I never tired of taking over rackets, distributing power to my underbosses, or doing execution kills on crime grunts, I have heard many say they felt bored with this loop, but this was not my experience at all. There are so many ways to go about taking over rackets and completing standard missions. You can go all stealth (which at times is overly simple, but still satisfying) or you could go full-out lead and just blow everybody apart with the game’s pretty standard but robust weapon system. Also the big story missions, where you are taking down the crime boss for the area, are innovative, fresh, and have great map designs that seem handcrafted and catered to slaying as many gun-wielding goons as possible.
I enjoyed giving properties to my underbosses as they pitched why they felt they deserved the rackets and areas. If you focus too much on one underboss, the others will get mad and leave you in which case you will have to hunt them down and kill them. This made me feel like I was actually running an up-and-coming empire. It added that extra weight to every decision.
The journey itself is filled with an exposed game play loop, standard open world activities, and serviceable mechanics. If you like open world games, this is an easy recommend. The game does suffer from some pretty substantial graphical problems, poor lightning, and botched animations…but a few updates from now these will be none issues. However, there are flaws and I feel obligated to point them out. At no point did I ever feel aggravated to the point of quitting because of these technical contention but I did suffer a few hard game crashes.
If you can stick it out to the end, you will be rewarded with one of the most satisfying