The Bunker Review

Richard Walker

I love the idea of an interactive live-action game. Combining movies and video games – the two things I'm passionate about the most – always seemed like it should be the perfect way to create a great point-and-click adventure. However, that's seldom the case. Few games have ever managed to effectively deliver a real, dramatic live-action narrative in video games (Night Trap, anyone?), and now you can add The Bunker to that list.

Filmed on location in an actual decommissioned nuclear bunker in Essex, The Bunker's story promises plenty of intrigue, but falls flat on its face with a glacial pace, some dodgy performances, and a shoddy script that all conspire to make this feel more like a mediocre student film, rather than a tense psychological horror. There's no real connection with any of The Bunker's characters, and even protagonist John, the bunker's sole survivor, is a massive wuss who'll have you screaming at the screen. I understand that he's spent his entire life underground, but John's still a clumsy, scaredy-cat buffoon.

A painfully slow point-and-click affair, The Bunker's premise is genuinely an intriguing one, which is why the game's sloppy execution is all the more disappointing. John starts life as the bombs fall, presumably wiping out all of humanity on the surface, and with 30 years passing and certain events transpiring in the underground sanctuary, he's left to fend for himself. Picking up with John as an adult running through a daily routine that's so incredibly mundane from the off, you're not sure why he doesn't just run himself a bath and chuck a toaster in with him. Therefore, it's hard to really care about what happens to poor old John. The big, stupid weirdo.

This isn't a result of a poor performance, however, since lead actor Adam Brown as John is arguably the only one who's actually convincing. The rest of the cast are wooden, breaking the immersion and believability of the story, while simultaneously shattering any attempts at generating tension in favour of giggling at how absurd it all seems. This isn't the worst of The Bunker's problems, though. The level of interaction is seriously lacking too, some of its tasks poorly implemented with silly prompts that crop up out of nowhere, while some actions seem completely superfluous and often incredibly boring.

What's more, failing any of the impromptu QTEs that pop up from time-to-time mean a frustrating replay of an entire sequence, having to sit through the same soap opera-level acting all over again to get back to where you were. The game's presentation in general is rather poor too, with no real puzzles or clever objectives to tackle, but rather a succession of dull busywork, replacing fuses and air filters. Broken Sword it ain't.

A great idea horribly marred by poor execution, The Bunker fails to deliver as an engaging point-and-click adventure or live-action drama. The psychological horror elements are ham-fisted and amateurish, conveying no real sense of fear or dread, and despite a fairly decent ending, you can't help but think that The Bunker could have been so much better. As it is, the experience is a pretty woeful one, and more likely to make you laugh than tremble with fear.

Rather than empathising with John, there's the overarching feeling that he's an idiot. Some of his decisions are more than questionable, no doubt prompting a raised eyebrow, and while you'll try to figure out why he makes certain choices, there's no real opportunity to shape or define John's path. The Bunker is sadly far too linear, the only real choice a binary one at the end that's a complete no-brainer. There's really only one real option. The other makes no sense whatsoever.

A neat idea with a few rare moments of intrigue, The Bunker promises so much, but delivers too little. A linear interactive drama that fails to engender any sense of genuine drama or tension. Its attempts at scares are sub-ghost train standard and as a game, it's severely limited. The Bunker might hold your attention for its 2-3 hour runtime, but once you've finished it, you're unlikely to return to its subterranean dwelling.

The Bunker

On paper, The Bunker sounds like a fantastic premise for a taut psychological horror that's both claustrophobic and frightening. As it stands, however, the game doesn't hang together as well as it should, most moments of drama provoking laughter when you should be on the edge of your seat. One instance made me grit my teeth and squirm, but the rest of the game is ineffective in generating any real atmosphere. I really wanted to love The Bunker, but it just doesn't work.

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The soundtrack is fairly effective, but sometimes ramps up far too much during moments when it simply doesn't fit. Dialogue often loops repeatedly, which is irritating.


Wow! It looks real! That's because it is. The Bunker is fairly well shot and the lighting is excellent, while the location itself is suitably oppressive. The interface, however, is incredibly basic, but unobtrusive.


Slow-paced and filled with dull tasks to complete. There are no real puzzles to truly sink your teeth into, so don't expect much of a challenge. Much of The Bunker is trial and error more than anything else.


Not only is The Bunker incredibly brief, but the presentation is lacklustre and the acting – with the exception of Brown as John – is poor. Any attempt at making for a tense and scary experience falls short, and even collectibles, documents, tapes and other accoutrements fail to flesh things out or alleviate the boredom.


A serviceable achievement list that doesn't really add all that much to the game, although it does encourage a second playthrough. Whether you'll want to bother however, that's another question altogether.

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