When opening a Bossa Studios game, your expectations will likely differ from what you'll find in the first-person sci-fi adventure The Bradwell Conspiracy, but you're unlikely to find yourself disappointed. Bossa has taken their penchant for odd ideas and combined it with an engaging narrative, quirky mechanics, and some clever puzzles to create a conspiracy worth uncovering.
Bossa Studios is best known for its unusual simulator games, the most famous of which is the disgusting yet addictive Surgeon Simulator. While The Bradwell Conspiracy is different in both tone and gameplay to Bossa's simulator games, there are enough quirks to make it engaging for fans of the studio.
You begin as your character wakes up to a scene of utter devastation. You're in a large building that has been decimated by a huge explosion. You cannot speak (apparently due to smoke inhalation), but need to find your way out of the destruction before the rest of the building collapses.
You quickly discover that you're wearing a pair of glasses that feature an AI Guide, who will be your companion (and occasional irritation) on your journey. Shortly afterward, you'll manage to contact a Bradwell employee named Amber, who is also trapped, albeit at the other side of a door you cannot open.
While you can't speak, Amber can, and using photos taken with your glasses you can communicate with her and work together to get out, preferably alive. There's just one slight snag. As you begin to search for an exit, you'll discover that there's much more to this incident than you imagined.
Becoming An Employee
As a lowly visitor, you cannot get very far. But don't worry, you're about to get an upgrade on those snazzy glasses and some sweet new tech.
Once you've explored the building a little more and Amber has done something clever with the computers, you'll find yourself in a new employee training scenario. Here, you're given a handheld 3D printer. This will allow you to collect blueprints, break items down into a substance called, Bradwellium, and then use this to print new items.
The printer works on a 1:1 basis with you gaining one unit of Bradwellium for each item you disassemble. Its mechanics are reminiscent of the Portal gun and it evokes the same enjoyment to wield.
The photo mechanics combined with this 3D printer are the basic tools you'll need to solve the puzzles, uncover the conspiracy, and get out of the building to safety. These quirky tools make the puzzle solving a little different and more engaging as you need to think on your feet.
As you explore, there are a wider range of puzzles to solve than I expected. However, some elements are repeated, such as finding an item you can use as a bridge.
You'll soon discover that your 3D printer is the key to pretty much every obstacle you encounter, and if it isn't? Well, that's when you need your glasses.
The 3D printer can collect blueprints from collectible objects you'll see on desks by disassembling items or by downloading them from a computer. You'll also notice that at various points you can collect new glasses, which will allow you to unlock different levels of access to the building. Both of these items are key in terms of progression.
Each chapter of the game will reset your progress in terms of blueprints and substance collected (which is displayed as units in the bottom left of the screen). This means that while you don't get overwhelmed with blueprints, you'll also need to constantly collect Bradwellium.
Exploration, Exploration, Exploration
The key to success in this game is exploration, and that goes for both puzzle-solving and fully uncovering the story.
To get the most out of the narrative, you'll need to explore all the computers and tablets. These will allow you to read or listen to messages that will help enhance and pad out the basic plot, giving you a more in-depth overview of the conspiracy itself.
You also need to check everything to see if you can interact with it, in order to find items you can use to gain Bradwellium. While the later game offers an abundance of the substance, some earlier parts offer just enough to complete the puzzles.
On a couple of occasions, I had to backtrack to locate extra Bradwellium or a missing blueprint. While you will get the hang of spotting useful items, it is still very easy to overlook things, so make sure you explore as much as you can.
If you're struggling at any point, you can also listen to Amber and send her photos. Her responses can help steer you in the right direction and she'll often offer (slightly cryptic) advice if you've been in one place for a while.
It's A Conspiracy
Overall, I found the narrative engaging and interesting, and I was pretty heavily invested in the story by the end of the game. My only irritation with the plot is that a lot of the intricate details I found interesting were contained within messages on the computers. It felt a little like a mechanic designed solely to slow you down, lest you run through the game in a ridiculously short about of time.
Speaking of game length, players who are good at puzzlers could blast through the content very quickly. I took my time, solving puzzles and exploring everything, yet still completed the game in a little over six hours.
Overall, the game was enjoyable and fun to play. While I'd have liked it to be longer the story did feel well-rounded and complete.
My only other gripe was that you cannot jump. Instead, the spacebar takes photos. Since my brain is wired to hit space when I see an obstacle, this led to me becoming irritated that I couldn't walk over a 2-inch step and Amber getting increasingly annoyed that I was spamming her photos of 2-inch steps.
Once I'd stopped trying to climb things and started instead just to open everything I enjoyed playing and the puzzles felt like an enjoyable mix, which challenged me without frustrating me.
While this isn't quite what I expected from Bossa, it hasn't disappointed and I enjoyed solving this quirky mystery. Now, where can I get one of those printers and some glasses?
4.5 Out Of 5 Stars
A PC copy of The Bradwell Conspiracy was provided to TheGamer for this review.The Bradwell Conspiracy is now available on Steam, Apple Arcade, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.