It’s a Great British mystery.
Waking up to a building crumbling around you is never a good sign. One can’t help but wonder if you were the cause behind this unexpected collapse – there appear to be no other survivors so, for now, you’re the only suspect.
Disorientated and wading through the smoke and dust, you try to establish where you are and exactly what has happened. Doesn’t seem like the smoke has done your throat any good – most people would be screaming for help by now, but it looks like you’ve lost the ability to talk. Flashes come back to you, an explosion, Stonehenge? You’re at the centre of a grand conspiracy, the ramifications of which could change the world and you’re most likely in grave danger. Time to get out of here.
You’re not sifting through the rumble for long until you find a fellow survivor of the explosion, Amber. Amber instantly brings a soothering presence to the chaos you’ve found yourself in. She seems to know quite a bit about the facility, which you now know is – or was – the prestigious Stonehenge Museum, and she has some semblance of a plan to get you both out of the ruins. With Amber’s guidance, you begin to reactivate the building’s power and make your way deeper inside this mysterious compound.
It’s not long before you are introduced to the game’s first interactive mechanic – the AR glasses. With them, you can take pictures of your surroundings and send them to Amber for help. This becomes so much more important when it becomes clear that the main character can’t speak. The damage caused by smoke inhalation from the collapse leaves them no other choice but to communicate through the AR glasses via the images they send. Amber interprets these snapshots and uses them to understand what you’re trying to say.
“It’s important to feel like you have a personal relationship with Amber, specifically because we don’t set the main character,” says Georg Backer, Game Director and Narrative Designer. “The main character doesn’t have a name; we never refer to them by gender, because we want it to be you.”
The fusion of storytelling and puzzle mechanics evokes a cross between Firewatch and Portal. Notably, The Bradwell Conspiracy will be published by Bossa Studios – by whom Chet Faliszek, one of the creative brains behind Portal, is now employed.
Although the AR glasses are used to solve puzzles they act as more of a narrative device than anything, forming the bond that nurtures the relationship between the player and Amber. Speaking of the puzzles, things get a hell of a lot more interesting when you’re introduced to an experimental tool buried in the facility underneath the Stonehenge Museum. Secretly designed by Bradwell Electronics, the Portal-esque gun allows you to disintegrate items, breaking them down into a reusable material, so you can store their blueprints and recreate them wherever and how often you like, as resources allow. It offers multiple ways to solve challenges, adding an additional layer of depth to the intriguing narrative.
The real star of the show isn’t the creative puzzle mechanics however, but the rich dialogue delivered by Amber, your NPC companion. In the demo we played at EGX, your relationship with Amber was as crucial to the gameplay as any of the underlying puzzle elements. The story of two people thrust together under extreme circumstances is a compelling one and how that pans out is at the heart of what really interested us about The Bradwell Conspiracy. Well, that and its distinct Britishness.
“It’s a very quintessentially English game in a lot of ways,” says Art Director and Narrative Designer Holly Pickering. “For us, it was a really interesting take on what would happen if our UK tech industry that we had in the ’60s and ’70s really took off and became like Apple. What world would that be? So we created an alternate universe where that happened.”
Stonehenge isn’t the only British staple present in the game either. We couldn’t help but notice Jonathan Ross’ distinctive voice curating the secret underground facility, adding a nice touch of humour to the whole situation. It’s not all laughs though – there’s clearly something insidious going on at Bradwell Electronics and through the acquired on-site tools you have at your disposal it’s up to you and Amber to unravel the truth lying beneath Stonehenge.
Excited about The Bradwell Conspiracy? We can’t blame you. Check out more awesome upcoming indie games in our Previews section!