This for me is a blast from the past, back in the 80s I remember playing FMV games in arcades but in the early 90s is when I had the fortune or misfortune of playing games such as Night Trap or the 7th guest probably being some of the most well known.
I remember these fondly because at the time it seemed like this was going to be the future of video games or maybe that was just marketing speak. I was 12 so what did I know, all I knew was that having the ability to interact in what looked like an actual movie seemed unbelievable at the time. I remember Night trap fondly purely because I wasn’t allowed to play it but then I went to a friends house who had managed to bag a copy and we spent the whole evening playing this game. Looking back now, these games seemed at the time revolutionary but the reality is that they were not very good. They do for me hold huge nostalgic value though. In the end with 3d graphics getting better all the time the initial excitement of FMV in the industry wore off pretty quickly much like virtual reality although both now seem to be making a comeback.
This brings me nicely onto The Bunker, this is as close as you are going to get to having a movie on your Switch seeing as Netflix is still unavailable.
You are a lone survivor in a Bunker who has been there since birth due to Nuclear Bombings in the UK. You have been stuck down there for around 30 years and you cannot leave due to the toxicity levels outside. Your mother has now passed away and it’s you and your routine that you have left which you go through like clockwork on a daily basis. As you tick off your checklist on a piece of paper every day you lead a life which is lonely and it’s this routine no doubt which has kept you alive and will do for years to come. Your routine consists of checking food although why John likes to sit down on the loo while eating is pretty grim, checking the air vents, toxicity levels and so on.
The story of how everybody within the Bunker and how they perished is told in a sequence of flashbacks from when you were a child. Everyone was still alive and the sequences which unfolded is told rather well to give you as the player some context. There are some shocking moments that no child should have to go through and it certainly had me very intrigued but also made me feel for John and what he had to go through and what he has to go through now. It’s quite telling that this game has been made by a movie studio because although made with a B-movie budget the acting and story told throughout is all very solid. You feel for our lead protagonist John who doesn’t know anything other than his mother, this Bunker and routine which his mother has taught him.
Within his daily routine, things start to go wrong and this is where John has to start doing things outside of his comfort zone. It’s also where you start to learn that it’s not only toxicity from the outside you have to worry about but also the horrors which lie within the Bunker itself. Without giving too much away, this is basically a film, a horror and it’s told for the most part well and I think if you go into it, thinking about it more as a movie then you will enjoy it a lot more. The acting is really good especially by the lead character.
Audio in the Bunker is of a decent standard, Backing noise makes you feel on edge and the playing of stringed instruments builds tension very nicely throughout. Voice acting is superb here and everything is very clear but then as a movie I would expect this.
Visuals and Performance
The visuals are difficult to speak about for gaming purposes because it’s filmed as a film. So If you can imagine a Bunker then this certainly looks and feels like you are in one. Everything though is quite dark in places and when traversing through the Bunker there is a red hue in places. At a quick glance, you could be forgiven for thinking you are playing a game in 3rd person perspective and that the graphics are very realistic. Of course, it’s not, it’s just a trick my eyes played on me being so used to playing games on my Switch. The camera work is good and I enjoyed how this film was filmed, the gory horror effects in places left you in no doubt that this is a place you no longer want to be in.
I found the best way to play this was in handheld mode, having my earphones in and using the touch screen for better accuracy when having to interact with the game.
My issue with the gameplay in games such as these is that there really isn’t much for the player to do. Yes, of course, there are interactions from time to time and you can make a few decisions as to where you go but this is a tightly managed game and as such you will always end up where you need to end up with decisions having little or no impact. As an example even if you were to click on the wrong choice John will tell you, you need to do something else first. All you really do is move a cursor and click on a few options which will either give you a bit of story or will open a door to the next area where more options will open up. Each interaction moves the story forward and sometimes you may have to find a piece of information like a code for a door to move forward but it’s never very difficult. Honestly, sometimes it felt like as the player you are forgotten about at times.
When things do start to go wrong you will have to carry out mundane tasks such as changing an air filter or picking up a torch so you can get through a dark tunnel. To open a hatch you may have to tap the A button really quickly. To open some doors you will have to move a large white circle to a black circle. All simple stuff just to engage the player a little but there isn’t much to it.
I will say that this type of genre has come along way since the 90s and I really do think there is a place for this type of experience on the Switch but does it make a good game? I don’t think it does, in fact, I would say that as a game it’s below average purely because there is not much left for the player to do. There are some collectables in the form of toys but these feel much like an afterthought, there are no tough decisions to make and everything you do eventually leads to you moving the story forward anyway. I would have liked to have seen decisions having an effect on the overall story a lot more and actually giving me as the player something to worry about. Some puzzles would not have gone amiss or some timed events. Something just to get me more involved.
You can die but I only died once and that was falling from a lift shaft because I wasn’t quick enough to move the cursor to the right spot but this was in the docked mode. The cursor is rather sensitive and inaccurate with the analogue input so when your meant to do something quickly you have to be on your toes. Not because it’s hard just because the controls are not that great and let’s be honest there is not much to control here so I think a better job could have been done. There isn’t this problem in handheld though as you can use touch controls which work much better and the issue is completely irrelevant.
As an FMV game it certainly all works well enough and if you enjoy horror and movies with some interaction then there is quite a lot to like. As a pure gaming experience though it’s much harder to recommend purely in gameplay terms and in this area there is still a very long way to go for the genre.
The cost of this game in the UK is £9,99 or $12,99 in the states so about the cost of a decent Blueray movie and that’s how I suggest you view this. You could play through again to collect the collectables but it just wasn’t compelling enough to do so. In my opinion, once you have watched this once it’s not one you will probably come back to unless you are a completionist. I think if you enjoy movies and enjoy horror then there is something here for you and you can justify its value. For those looking for more in the gameplay department, it’s not going to satisfy you.
Unique on Switch
A decent interactive movie
As a game it's below average
Cursor is too sensitive
Replay value is limited