The Bunker review
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The Bunker review

Our Review by Campbell Bird on May 8th, 2017
Rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: SHELTER IN PLACE
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This FMV adventure game is on the short side, but is otherwise pretty remarkable.

Developer: Channel 4

Price: $3.99
Version: 1.2
App Reviewed on: iPad Air 2

Graphics/Sound Rating: starstarstarstarstar
User Interface Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar
Gameplay Rating: starstarhalfstarblankstarblankstar
Replay Value Rating: starstarblankstarblankstarblankstar

Overall Rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar

The Bunker is an adventure game that uses clips of full-motion video to set its scenes, tell its story, and setup its puzzles. This approach makes for a pretty standard-feeling horror-adventure game, but also one that feels a lot like you're playing through a movie. I just wish the movie I was playing was a little longer.

Fallout boy

In The Bunker, it's the post-apocalypse, and the only surviving humans live in underground bunkers that are shielded from the nuclear fallout. You take control of a man named John, who has spent most of his life growing up in this bunker alongside his mom and the rest of the bunker personnel.

The main focus of The Bunker is its story, so I won't go into too many details, but the game begins just as things are about to go very, very wrong for John. To progress the story, you must guide John around the bunker by tapping on interest points around the screen to advance scenes that either help you solve puzzles or learn more about what exactly is going on.

British bunkering

One of the most striking features of The Bunker is its use of video instead of graphics for all of its visuals. Whenever it comes time for you to perform an action, buttons appear on screen for you to tap. Depending on context these things could simply move John from one room to the other or trigger a flashback to a moment from John's time growing up in the bunker.

These visuals avoid looking like scenes on a cheap soundstage because the entirety of The Bunker was actually filmed on site at the Kelvedon Hatch Secret Nuclear Bunker in Essex, England. Using such a real-life setting–as well as neat camera tricks like security camera feeds–The Bunker does a great job of establishing a sense of place and instilling a sense of fear without ever feeling cobbled together or cheap.

Underwhelming underground

As striking and effective as The Bunker can be visually, the game suffers from telling a straightforward and predictable story. There might be a few scenes that jump out and surprise you, but the main story twist can be seen from a mile away.

It also doesn't help that The Bunker is a pretty short game. It's a game you can get through in one sitting and it doesn't really give you a good reason to go back and revisit it. This is generally par for the course with a lot of adventure games, but since The Bunker has simple mechanics and a standard story, its brevity stands out even more.

The bottom line

Despite its issues, I enjoyed my time with The Bunker. Its shortcomings are only noticeable because of how well made the rest of it is. The Bunker's tone and look make you want it to be more complicated from both a narrative and mechanical standpoint, but what it accomplishes on these fronts is at least as good as other games like it. As a result, it's a good adventure game, but one that also compels you to wish it were better.

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