Bunker – The Underground Game Preview

Jonathan Tshinanu
by Jonathan Tshinanu on May 5, 2015
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Bunker – The Underground Game Preview

 

 

Bunker – The Underground Game was conceptualized by the one man development team Nightly Studios and published by 2-tainment. Tony Sundell brought the game to reality across three years, and at the time of this writing, has just finished adding sound design by Sakoto Young. Being an adventure game, and thus its hook being the stories it’ll tell, it’s hard to preview Bunker – The Underground Game without getting into the story itself.

Never invite someone you met online home on your first date.

Never invite someone you met online home on your first date.

In it, you play as Otto Thompson, a young wannabe hipster, and one of the thirteen twins. Despite all attempts at not conforming to society, he’s jumping onto the online dating train and that proves to be the initiating incident of our plot. In fact, the story is more or less a summary of why I’ll personally never embark on any online dating venture. Sure, the likelihood of a pretty fair lady interested in you turning out to be a kidnapping Russian who hauls you off into the titular underground bunker is nearly slim to none, but why take the risk? Upon your arrival at the bunker, you’ll be left chained against the wall, and not very knowledgeable about why you were kidnapped, bar, perhaps, for your liver, according to the aforementioned Russian.

Bunker – The Underground Game is meant to be a hilarious point and click adventure game with puzzle features, and those intentions are made relatively obvious, unfortunately they haven’t proved effective in my time with the game. The humor never really hit home, and I’m a sucker for meta humor which Nightly Studios attempts to insert throughout the adventure, but none of it had me smiling let alone laughing. Unfortunately, that’s the sort of issue a game with heavy focus on humor will face though perhaps I’m just a stone wall to his jokes and you’ll fare far better.

The art style varies between the gameplay and the cut scenes. The gameplay itself features a simple clip-art style, which tends to be a combination of plain and forgettable, perhaps carried by superior dialogue it’d be easier to ignore, but that isn’t the case. Of course, that isn’t to say the art style is necessarily bad, but it’s not a pretty game to look at either. During cut scenes, it switches to a pixellated direction though for what purpose, I’m unsure. That said, I believe I would’ve enjoyed it if the entire gameplay itself had also remained pixellated, I feel it would’ve made the game look a tad more dynamic. Or at the very least keep that clip-art style for the cut scenes as well in order to not hamper the appeal of what we’re looking at for the duration of the game.

Doesn’t this picture make you want to play the game just to figure how this happened?

Doesn’t this picture make you want to play the game just to figure how this happened?

I held off this preview because, at my original time of playing, there was little to no sound design, fortunately, the sound design finally arrived and became by far my favorite aspect of the entire game. The soundtrack will definitely stick with you, even now, the funky tunes tend to reverberate in my head, and I don’t doubt it’ll be there for another couple of days too. There’s no voice work as of yet and I’m not sure we’ll get any for that matter either, which is a shame, the gags might’ve hit home a bit better if they’d had the voice acting to bring it to life, as of now, the visual dialogue isn’t delivering on the intended laughs. And the fact that I was left unsure as to rather it was intentionally written badly or not isn’t a good thing for Nightly Studios’.

The puzzles in this point and click adventure tend to be simple as there are various hints as to what you’re supposed to do, ultimately, the challenge of solving these problems probably won’t be the thing that drives you to talking about it. The mechanics focus on using items you pick up around the world, sometimes combining it, sometimes merely finding the appropriate use for a sort of extended effect that leads you to a new, equally straightforward puzzle.

I likely would’ve come to appreciate Nightly Studios’ first game if it delivered the gags better, a hilarious game could’ve carried the work for the rest of the weaker features (visual, gameplay, etc.), and unfortunately sound design can’t really do the same in these circumstances. For example, the launch of a nuclear missile towards New York City and an NPC often reminding you that you’re a murderer never actually hit home. The main character didn’t seem to care at all or actual react to the event, and merely considered the NPC an annoyance, above all else, so why shouldn’t the player feel the same?

These weak aspects also tended to emphasize the clunky gameplay, and badly written dialogue though I’m hoping that by the time the game comes out, these parts have been further refined. At the time of my play through, moving around, both the camera and the character, didn’t always work as intended and whereas sometimes the dialogue would come out timed, other times you’d have to click through it which only served to create more confusion. The same could be said for picking out objects from your inventory, at times it’d take a couple of toggles for the mouse to actually latch onto the object in question. All in all, it made for a painful experience for relatively simple mechanics.

With the recent advent of other point and click adventure games like the many Telltale productions, the recent Broken Age, Five Night at Freddy’s and remasters like Grim Fandango, there’s not much Bunker – The Underground Game offers to set itself out of the back beyond the story and the humor, and at the moment, it doesn’t execute that all that well. It’s disheartening, mostly because you can tell Nightly Studios’ put their heart into making Bunker – The Underground Game happening, with three years of production, but I can’t say I’m much of a fan of the current build.

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