The Bradwell Conspiracy Review: Emergency Exit
Kalvin Martinez / Jan 3rd, 2020 No Comments
How well would you respond to a crisis? We all like to think we’d be cool as a cucumber able to excel in the face of adversity. However, we never really know until the time comes.
The Bradwell Conspiracy is all about how to move forward from tragedy. It builds on this premise well, but it takes a bit too long to get to its inventive conceit.
That Won’t Work Now, Will It?
The Bradwell Conspiracy opens with an unnamed protagonist waking up from underneath the rubble and ruin.
A situation has occurred at the Bradwell Stonehenge museum following the celebration for the Bradwell’s Clean Water initiative milestone. An explosion occurring in the museum has turned into a public crisis with emergency services workers trying to help.
This is all context you as the protagonist is not privy to know. All you know is the situation inside is FUBAR with the museum falling apart and paths are blocked with debris. By luck, you meet Dr. Amber Randall, who is trapped in the museum with you and clues you into what’s happening. The rub is that she is cut off from you, but by communicating through your guide glasses, you’ll find a way to get to the escape pods and leave the museum.
What works really well about the narrative for The Bradwell Conspiracy is the same thing that worked well for Fire Watch: a strong female character in Dr. Amber Randall, who acts as facilitator and life line. However, unlike Fire Watch, you lack an actual character personality, so it is the whole first-person “hey this is me, what would I do” scenario. It is fine, but it feels like a missed opportunity.
In addition to the strong character work from Dr. Randall, there is a lot of good world building details for The Bradwell Foundation and museum. By using the unease naturally caused by monolithic altruistic organizations, the narrative creates a tense atmosphere. More importantly, it uses that tension to show off an understated sense of humor from the ridiculousness inherent in a bureaucratic system like The Bradwell Foundation.
After orienting yourself to walking and looking around, using the guide glasses, and meeting up with Dr. Randall, the escape begins. Dr. Randall tries to get you to find the train entrance, but that predictably isn’t going to work. It is offline, and more importantly not accessible. Naturally, escaping won’t be easy, but the hard way requires a lot more ingenuity and work to escape.
First step to securing the long way out: find guide glasses for a new employee and go through orientation. This may seem silly, but Dr. Randall ensures you that this is the key to moving forward. She isn’t wrong.
During new employee orientation you get access to The Substance Mobile Printer, which uses Bradwellium aka “Substance” to perform the instant fabrication of items. Here is where The Bradwell Conspiracy turns from walking and looking simulator into a puzzle/adventure game!
The Substance Mobile Printer lets you absorb compatible items scattered across the museum than by using “Substance” you can create them elsewhere. Most of the time this involves creating pathways forward like creating planks to get across destroy infrastructure. Yet you aren’t only creating impromptu walkways, you do get to get to solve some good 3D puzzles.
Every complication is barring you and Dr. Randall from making it to the escape pods. In order to get to the escape pods you need to resolve issues in the various areas of the museum. Each section has a specific set of guide glasses you need to obtain higher clearance and open up locked doors preventing you from fixing the root cause of the issue.
When fixing these larger malfunctions, you run into the satisfying 3D puzzles scattered across the game. Sometimes it is major like fixing a plumbing system where straight and curved pipes are missing. Solving it requires you to rotate the pipes in a 3D space using available substance to reconnect it. Other times it can be as simple as recreating a pattern using gold pieces to unlock a cabinet
Regardless of what 3D puzzle you come across, they are the most exhilarating part of the game. However, some puzzles suffer from wonky substance creating or a frustrating lack of clarity for what is manipulatable like a later game puzzle where you got to replace circuit boards. It is these annoying instances that hold the gameplay back. A good puzzle challenge comes from a clever applications of your gameplay elements, and not a lack of clarity for what you can do.
The Bradwell Conspiracy has a lot of cool elements like its creation gameplay and the defined sense of place in its narrative. However, it flashes of brilliance don’t quite come together. Despite great voiceover and sound design, it doesn’t elevate to the levels of “must-play.”
The Bradwell Conspiracy was reviewed on Nintendo Switch with a code provided by the developer.
tags: Bossa Studios , nintendo , Nintendo Switch , Switch , The Bradwell Conspiracy , The Bradwell Conspiracy Review