Rectify Gaming

Review: The Bunker – Xbox One


Who would’ve thought anyone would still be interested in publishing FMV titles on Xbox One? The Bunker is Wales Interactive’s latest dive into the gamer road less traveled.
Game – The Bunker
Platform – Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Steam
Developer/Publisher – Wales Interactive, Splendy Games, Directed by Allan Plenderleith
Release date – September 20th, 2016
Price – $19.99
the-bunker_0The Bunker opens up on Margaret (Sarah Greene) giving birth to her son John (Adam Brown) deep inside a nuclear bunker while bombs explode in the distance. John is forced to deviate from his safe, daily routine to reset the bunker’s radioactive defense measures. A lifetime inside the bunker has earned him a nasty case of agoraphobia, and his dizzy spells usually result in important flashbacks.
Throughout the title, you have an opportunity to listen to old cassettes, read journal entries off Commodore hard drives, and explore the bunker in its entirety. There are also wooden, hand-carved statues hidden throughout the game to find.
the-bunker_2Subtle, impressive touches make The Bunker engrossing and evocative. The Commodore computer screen houses Brown’s faint reflection. It’s on the rounded screen below lightly scuffed plastic lining and above dust with fingerprint markings on the lip of the screen. This is underlying the onscreen journal entry of a previous bunker inhabitants “Things I Hate: Sardines, the bunker smell, and Level 5”. It’s mysterious for anyone looking to dive into the story, and all this is easily missed… a small detail in the game. Clare O’Connell does a magnificent job providing the ambient cello background score. Thought and vision went into making The Bunker a great piece of work, and just because it’s a live-action game doesn’t mean the delivery is anything short of well-executed.
the-bunker_3The Bunker starts to suffer from its reliance on its pace. The game is roughly the length of a feature-length movie, and the pacing locks the story up in a predictable direction. It’s not too long into the story that you catch onto what’s really happening inside the bunker, and it sputters the suspense. The stakes are also fairly low given the opportunities to provide you with memorable moments. Luckily, Brown’s performance is honest and genuine, and it’s really his character that becomes the driving force in continuing the playthrough.
the-bunker_4The Bunker also fails to provide any truly difficult choices or decisions, which causes disconnect in some of the narrative. Often times I felt like I was watching a movie that required me to use my controller every once in a while. It remains this way all throughout the tail end of the game when you’re faced with the title’s only difficult decision. The Bunker’s tight camera angles keep you unnerved as you share in John’s claustrophobic environment. This is more of a nod to the direction of the filmmakers than to the developers, but it still speaks to the overall effectiveness of this FMV.
It’s hard to justify this as a $19.99 movie/game experience at about two hours of gameplay and footage. A throwback to the Sega Saturn days of FMV storytelling, The Bunker features impressive performances by its cast, a great blend of film and visual editing, and is a well-executed title. The Bunker definitely won’t revive FMVs, but it’s a bold storytelling platform in 2016 that pays off. The Bunker is surely bound to attract even the most anti-FMV gamers out there.
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