by Ryan Cole
For full transparency I worked with Brandon Serowski (the developer) in the past and participated in the Alpha and Beta testing of the game.
Indie games have a special place in my games library. These games can be a very welcome breath of fresh air among the safe bets that large studios tend to make. They often surprise you with unique mechanics, creativity or just good old fashioned challenge. The latter is what The Bedtime Story brings.
The Bedtime Story transports you into the shoes of a frightened little boy who has lost his comforting companion, his teddy bear. This is how the game begins - no parents, no lights, no bear. Only the comfort of a flashlight with a very limited battery.
Dark and alone I awoke in my room. With a little exploring I managed to find a few pickups and a couple of locked doors. Wondering what to do next I looked around a bit until I saw the chalkboard. At first the controls are written up there, but then something else happens. This is where the tone of the game is set.
As I am looking up at the board a slight chill runs up my spine when I see the words “let’s play a game...tag”. The words “Stay in the light” are then written out as I stare blankly at the board wondering “what the hell should I do”, then with a thunderous crack of lightning and a familiar creaking sound a door swings open.
This is the only direction you are given as the player. The controls, the game you are playing, an open door and a small hint to “stay in the light”. I’m left wondering what awaits in the dark.
Sound is a very important aspect of this experience. Headphones are recommended as you'll use them to pick up on audible cues. Trust me, you'll need to listen carefully. There's something lurking in this house.
Light plays an equally important role. Your flashlight battery is very limited and only stays on for a short amount of time before it needs to recharge. Exploring proves vital as you can find additional batteries of 2 variants, yellow and red. One grants you increased time limit with precious light while the other increases the range at which the light pierces the dark.
Exploration also gets you access to other pickups, such as keys and lamps. Keys will obviously unlock doors to additional rooms for hiding in or scavenging extra batteries. Lamps play a more vital role in last second survival. Once you figure out what these bad boys do you’ll try to pick up every lamp you see (not all can be picked up). Lamps are your most valuable and scarce resource. Use them wisely.
This game is about trial and error, mostly error. With the minimal amount of guidance the player has to figure out the rules of each game. This approach may not be appealing to everyone, but it’s hard to beat the feeling of winning one of these games. I experienced a huge amount of glee when I finally bested my foe in the first game “Tag”.
The visuals on display are what you’d expect for a game built with Unreal Engine 4, but when you take into account that this was made by a solo dev it becomes even more impressive. The atmosphere and light for the most part are great. Light from standing lamps could use some additional work as they look more like cones of light instead of a light source fighting back the dark. Objects look crisp and clear although it does get a little redundant with a lack of variety in furniture.
All in all I give The Bedtime Story 4 Enchiladas out of 5. If you have a PC pick up The Bedtime Story on STEAM, because at $2.99 the value proposition here is very high.
Ryan is a console and PC game enthusiast who has recently been trapped in Fortnite. You can find Ryan’s playthrough/developer interview of The Bedtime Story on his YouTube Channel Colenado Gaming.