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Bermuda Review: Subpar Submarine Story

by on August 3, 2014
Details
 
Positives

- Decent art at times.
- Professional voice actors.
- Some backgrounds are animated.

Negatives

- Bad plot with bad progression and predictable twists.
- Horribly stereotypical characters.
- Tries to force a "message" down the player's throat.
- The quality of the voice acting is all over the place.
- Art looks unfinished at times.
- Repetitive structure to the story.
- Incredibly short.
- Only a single stealth level for six different missions.

 

“Ugh,” I thought for a final time as the game drew to a close with yet another line involving both religion and faith in other people, “could this have been any more cliched?”

I do not really think it could have. InvertMouse’s Bermuda, a visual novel that is broken into eight episodes if you count the prologue and end, six of which contain a stealth mission right around the middle, none of which took me more than 10 minutes, most of which took me somewhere around 5, is quite literally a monument to every stereotype and cliche I could think of. The plot is so predictable based on the characters, other than one event which was a poor attempt at making the reader cry, and so brief, that it ultimately left me with a very “meh” feeling by the end of it.

If you want an idea of exactly how brief the game is and, moreover, how brief each episode is, let this thought simmer for a moment. Unlike almost every visual novel ever made, there is no option to save at any piece of dialogue. In fact, you cannot save at all. Rather, you are given a menu listing each of the episodes and you can start any of them from the beginning at any point in time. Do not worry, though. It gives you a nice little “Act X” screen at the beginning of each episode so that you know you have entered a new one and can safely quit without having to replay a stealth mission or just re-read dialogue in general.

Not that that really matters because, for a grand majority of the chapters, no more than 15-20 lines of dialogue are exchanged in the segments before and after each episode’s stealth mission. Oh and, if you caught that, that is correct. Each episode is split into a distinctly recognizable pattern. You have the option of watching a few bonus conversations before you enter the scene, after which your friend Paul goes on about some sort of nonsense self-righteous bullshit, and you go on a stealth mission that ultimately ends up either enraging Paul or getting you into some sort of trouble that could have been avoided if you had just been sensible people.

Again, you heard that right. All of the conflict in the game is created from the stupidity of a couple of, judging by one line of dialogue, twenty-somethings who just do not know when to quit. I mean, you have to trust your friends, right? Even when they are being morons and you know it, right? Le sigh.

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The one bit of conflict that does not directly occur because of their stupidity and ends up being the most disastrous takes a bizarre turn from one cliche to another right in the middle, with your character remarking “I had a feeling that was all you wanted,” at which point, I could only think “What? Where the hell did this come from?” After an entire game’s worth of lighthearted trouble, the game’s story just becomes tragedy after tragedy in such a stilted and bizarre manner that you wonder if the game was not meant to be a longer story that was haphazardly squished into a tiny narrative solely for the purpose of being able to call itself compact. I mean, I had read on the Kickstarter that the author had intended to be “succinct” in his narrative but this borders on ridiculous. Everything happens too fast and you do not really get the time to process anything, much less enough information about everything, for it to really hit you.

I will give the author credit, however. The bonus conversations were rather hysterical at times. Mostly solely in the case of “random aliens #1 and #2″ but I applaud the bizarrely placed humor despite that. It was especially appreciated because each of the other conversations were so insanely predictable, some bordering on repetitive, and one character’s conversations repeating the exact same line at the beginning of each of the seven or eight of them.

Unfortunately, this is not all that is repetitive in the game. The stealth missions were by far one of the most repetitive tasks I have ever had to go through. I get that you are trapped on a submarine but to have the exact same map repeated across all six of them is a bit much. Further worsening the issue is the fact that the AI are literally random, patrolling back and forth across the floors and interacting with either whatever you mess with or whatever suits them. There is no pattern to their movement. Waiting out openings can get extremely boring, especially in the case of the second floor where the camera is set up exactly the right amount of distance away from the bathroom you can hide in as to make it impossible to leave the bathroom right after an alien passes and pass the camera before it gets switched back on. Despite how short the game was, the stealth missions managed to wear on me by the end of it. Calling them “open-ended” is a bit of a misnomer as, even though there are technically multiple solutions, each floor, combined with each objective, is going to ultimately leave you with one way to really complete it. This killed pretty much all of the single level’s replayability, leaving only the feeling of it wearing on for too long.

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The overall rough feeling of the game also managed to wear on me. The game does not properly scale to larger screens despite forcing fullscreen, leaving black bars on either side and a sort of blurry look overall. The art style is nice at times but, at others, feels a bit plain. Certain pieces felt like they were due for more detail but just did not end up being finished. For the grand majority of the game, other than a few CGs, each of the characters has a single pose, regardless of whether that pose seems to fit. Mukan’s basic pose sticks out the most, almost always having her sword drawn. The voice acting, done by professional voice actors, varies wildly in quality, with Mother’s voice, in particular, sounding pretty bad. The quality of the recordings themselves also varied and several times, there were audible changes in volume between clips of dialogue spoken by the same character. Several times, I also had to go back to re-read text, wherein the game would freeze as it was attempting to reload the spoken dialogue, sometimes taking up to five seconds.

Not to mention the rough feeling of the stealth missions. Stealth missions perpetually show some kind of help text at the bottom. However, the text is left in a portion of the screen that is solid dark blue and the text itself is plain white text which looks out of place and rather unprofessional. The graphics of the stealth missions are noticeably of lower quality than the rest of the game and the animations are kind of choppy. Transitions between floors can be painfully slow at times and there were quite a few times that aliens would enter bathrooms only for the bathrooms to not properly notify me that they were in there.

I had hoped for so much more. Between professional voice actors and the promise of “real gameplay,” I was really hoping to be able to give this original english language visual novel a glowing recommendation. Instead, I came away feeling like I’d experienced a hackneyed attempt at creating a meaningful short story that consistently tries to force its, often religious, ideals down the player’s throat while tacking on repetitive “open-ended” gameplay and professional voice acting as selling points. What it really needed, though, was a lengthier story in which the characters became more than just cliches of their given stereotype.

If you want to try the game out for yourself, there is a demo on the official website, where you can also purchase it for $7.99. If, unlike me, you end up liking it, you can also vote for it on Greenlight.

Full disclosure: I was provided a copy of this game for the purpose of this review.

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