The Bunker is a fully interactive movie game, developed by Wales Interactive, and could be loosely termed as survival horror. The game’s footage was filmed on location in a genuine decommissioned government nuclear bunker in Essex, England; with a plot created by the screenwriters behind SOMA, Broken Sword and The Witcher.
The Bunker begins with an opening shot of the detonation of a nuclear bomb, and the plot quickly establishes that the main character Jon (The Hobbit’s Adam Brown) is potentially the last remaining survivor; living in a government bunker after a nuclear attack on the British Isles. Over the years, all the occupants of the bunker have passed away, leaving only Jon and his elderly mother Margaret (Penny Dreadful’s Sarah Greene).
Following Margaret’s death, Jon spends his time abiding by a rigid daily routine – checking the bunker’s maintenance systems, monitoring radio waves in the hope of locating other survivors in bunkers throughout the country, and reading books to his dead mother’s corpse (which is kinda creepy).
The game’s plot is progressed via flashbacks to Jon’s childhood (who was born in the bunker), and reveals that the bunker’s Commissioner (Game Of Throne’s Grahame Fox) had issues with potential food shortages and the integrity of the bunker itself. Back in the present, the bunker’s maintenance system soon breaks down – forcing Jon out of his comfort zone as he’s the only one left to repair the system, or die of radiation poisoning. Jon makes his way further and further into the depths of the bunker, confronting his supressed memories that lead to further horrors within.
The full extent of the bunker’s atrocious secrets are not revealed until the games closing act – with previously seen flashbacks connecting the dots and hammering home the truth regarding the bunker’s other occupants, as well as Jon’s own situation. Jon then has to make an ultimate decision on whether to leave the safety and familiarity of the bunker, testing his own loyalties and confidence to their extremes.
As mentioned during the article’s introduction, The Bunker is a fully live-action game with no CGI effects. It’s hard to comment on graphics, as the game plays like a movie. There’s no slow down or freezing during any of the scenes. When you’re able to interact with objects Jon will go into a loop, swaying gently from side to side until you click on an interactable object. An ever-present on-screen cursor can be moved around the screen, with circular symbols popping up when an object can be interacted with. There are QTEs of sorts, which come in two forms: button bashing or moving the cursor to a defined area before a timer expires. If one of the latter are missed, it can lead to having to restart from a previous point – the cursor moves at a snail’s pace, so it isn’t hard to miss an event here and there.
The majority of the gameplay comes in the form of exploration and simple puzzle-solving. Exploration is a case of clicking on every interactable object until you can move on to the next scene. Similarly, puzzle solving doesn’t really put your grey matter to the test – most of the puzzles are sequence based, and if you try to do step two before step one, Jon will tell you what needs to be done first, eradicating the need for any deep thinking.
The three main cast members handle their roles well. Jon comes across as naïve and full of anxiety, almost as if he were a thirty year old child. Margaret is obviously a loving mother, putting Jon before all else in her life. Meanwhile The Commissioner is dealing with a whole heap of issues that he has zero control over, and struggles to keep his little community from the brink of mutiny. The rest of the cast are pretty much extras, with only one or two having any lines or significant screen time.
The game’s music and sound effects are suitably eerie and dramatic. The levels are a little on the loud side and tend to drown out the dialogue, so I’d recommend keeping the subtitles on (which is the default setting). The musical score intensifies the further Jon delves into the bunker and it’s secrets, helping to heighten the tension.
Not too long ago, I wrote an article on the history of interactive movie games; and The Bunker is a shining example of how FMV games can still be relevant in today’s market. However, only fans of the genre will get any enjoyment out of its four to five hours of gameplay; as The Bunker’s plot leads you from one scene to another, with very little in the way of exploration or deviating from the path. Whilst the plot is compelling, there’s very little to warrant a second playthrough once the final plot twist has been revealed, other than to track down collectables. In short, The Bunker is a fun experience for fans of FMV gaming, if only for an afternoon or evening’s worth of play.