Bedlam (not to be confused with the other Bedlam) is a first-person shooter that spans the history of the genre. It has no qualms with giving classics or their diehard fans shit for some of their more irritating habits.

(Minor Bedlam spoilers ahead.)

OK, so here’s the setup: you’re Heather “Athena” Quinn, a scientist who’s clearly Had Enough Of This Shit. One day, she volunteers to test some new brain scanning tech, only to wake up trapped in a classic (think early Quake) style video game. In hopes of escaping, she ends up helping space marines wage a war against the Totally Not Strogg (my name for them; not the game’s) while stuck in the body of a Totally Not Strogg. Shenanigans ensue.

I’ve been playing for around two hours, and the action is... well, it’s alright. The writing, though, has provided a veritable Halloween-candy-stash-sandwiched-between-sofa-cushions-for-eight-months of unexpected treats. Athena is not your typical video game protagonist. She’s someone who was pretty hardcore into games when she was younger, but Life intervened as she aged. She’s a normal person, more or less—not a smirking action hero or an angry bald dude with a troubled past or literally Batman.

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Being trapped in fictional game Starfire, then, is a walk down memory lane for her—or perhaps a rocket jump. Some of the memories are fond, and others are... well. No game is perfect.

Now the (minor) twist: after waging a fairly run of the mill video game single-player campaign war for about an hour-and-a-half, it was time to make a final, scorching strike on the Totally Not Strogg. Generic NPC commander man told me to go grab a rocket launcher so I could help lead the charge. But then, there was a “glitch.” Suddenly, I was in some bizarre anti-gravity arena, battling against... children?

Then it hit me: I’d been teleported to Starfire’s “multiplayer” servers. Not actual multiplayer, mind—but it was an eerily accurate simulation of the nightmare purgatory that a shitty online server can be.

Obnoxious children, EVERYWHERE, insisting with absolute certainty that hacks were the only way I could pierce their bullet shields of obnoxygen and fecal matter.

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Then, of course, they dropped the, “Wait, you’re A GIRL?” line. And Athena was basically like, “I already put up with this shit back when I was in a clan, and OH HELL NO YOU DID NOT JUST.” After that I got to obliterate all of them until they were on the verge of a long, probably much-needed frustration cry. Fun!

I’m still kinda on the fence about Bedlam overall (again, the shooting falls squarely into OK territory, and the pacing has already started to drag a bit), but this moment was equal parts unexpected, funny, and fun. I’m gonna keep playing it for a while longer. If it stays solid or gets better, expect to hear more.

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