Game review: The Bunker – what were the developers thinking?

The Bunker would make decent late-night film viewing or work as a so-so cheap British TV show, but it’s far from being a game

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 October, 2016, 12:47pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 October, 2016, 12:46pm

The Bunker

Splendy Games

2 stars

Although Hollywood and the media in general like to hype their similarities, often in an attempt to discredit one over the other, there’s a world of difference between video games and movies.

Yes the narratives, visuals and audio (admittedly, quite a bit) may overlap, but the gaming’s interactivity truly sets it apart, a unique characteristic that allows players to go beyond mere observation.

However, nobody seems to have explained that to the creators of The Bunker. While it might cleverly build on a low-budget setting and a clichéd but fascinating story, it ends up being more movie than game.

It’s an FMV game – full-motion video – a genre which will be familiar to kids of the 1980s, when movie-style scenes and gaming’s interactivity were combined in often misguided attempts at creating a new medium. Incredibly rare is the game that bothers these days, unless it’s for a post-modern approach, and The Bunker is definitely not that.

Set in an alternate-reality United Kingdom, it kicks off in the 1980s with the standard nuclear war breakout, before leaping forward 30 years to follow the imaginatively named protagonist John, a man who has only known life in the bunker. You start by following his daily, monotonous routine and it lulls you into thinking that there will be plenty to do through point-and-clicks. Sure, it’s like a tutorial, you tell yourself, the game is definitely going to get into the groove any minute now.

Except, it doesn’t. Soon enough, you’re watching a crappy B-movie and wondering where the gaming aspect is. Developer Splendy Games did try to actually involve the player – there’s the part where you have to frantically click your mouse button to fill up a bar, or where you frantically click a mouse button before the timer stops. There are also numerous times when you have to click “next” to move from one scene to the next, and oh, in case you haven’t worked it out, we’re being sarcastic.

The Bunker would be a decent late-night flick on Cinemax, or maybe even a not-half-bad cheap British TV show. But it’s far from a game – what were the developers thinking?