Friday, May 26, 2017

Dead In Bermuda - The Friday FREE GAME Feature!

A challenging game with a colorful cast and an equally diverse blend of genres.

Dead in Bermuda is what happens when you mix Darkest Dungeon, the Dead of Winter boardgame and the Lost television series all together. A plane crashes on a mysterious island and eight survivors must now find a way out of this mess.

At its core, Dead In Bermuda is a management game - you must manage risks, time, resources and character relationships effectively - but it incorporates several other genres as well. Elements of survival crafting, visual novel, point-and-click adventure, RPG and procedural generation are all represented surprisingly well, with nothing feeling tacked-on or out of place.

Each of the survivors have various strengths and weaknesses, though you can customize them somewhat via skill points when they level up. The survivors are more than a jumble of stats, though, as each has a well-written backstory and personality, making them a full-fledged character. Determining what each person is best at and who they get along with are key to surviving farther into the game.

Each game day is divided into three turns. During the first two turns, you assign the survivors to locations/jobs, from napping in the shelter to exploring the island. On the third turn, you distribute food and several of the survivors participate in a conversation. The dialogue during the conversation is set, meaning you never get to choose a reply for any of the characters. While that probably upsets a lot of people, I feel it keeps players from "gaming" the system by choosing the best dialogue result and cuts down on unnecessary work for the developers.

While it's easy to understand the concepts of this game, you're not likely to do very well the first few times playing. You'll often be put in positions where you need to do more than is feasible given your characters' conditions. Crafting in particular can be a real bottleneck, as the time and materials needed to get a job done take even longer when your characters are already fatigued. While that's definitely realistic, the amount of materials needed for some of these recipes feels a bit steep. 18 wood, 8 rope and a basket to collect fruit? It takes less material to make a sleeping area that fits 3 people! Doing some reading online, it seems like the later stages of crafting include a chance to fail, which essentially ends your game due to a dice roll. At least you can create save points and try again, but that's still a pain in the ass when it already takes time and materials to research and then craft in the first place. I already have a game for getting screwed by RNG (Hearthstone) and I'm not looking for another, thanks.

Assuming you can overcome the crafting hurdles, the rest of the game is somewhat interesting. Exploring the island presents you with opportunities to find more resources and encounter its bizarre inhabitants. While each character has a Fighting stat, combat is not really a thing. If you fail at a Stealth check, a random monster appears, attacks once, then leaves immediately. It seems like the Fighting stat mostly minimizes the amount of injury incurred from enemy attacks, though it is used (rarely) as an offensive option in some special events. Note that this isn't a complaint - I don't expect the survivors in this given situation to risk their lives needlessly battling monsters. However, it's worth noting that anyone looking for fighting/combat options won't find much in this title.

With the different personalities of the survivors and nightly dialogue, it seems there's a full story here; reaching its conclusion is probably a reward in itself. I somehow have the feeling that the end is likely the same no matter which characters actually survive, but I have a long way to go before I'll be anywhere close to finding out. In all, Dead In Bermuda is a challenging management game with a bit of something for (almost) everybody.

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