The year is 2026. As Bradwell Electronics unveils its Clean Water project at its Stonehenge facility, something goes horribly wrong. In my The Bradwell Conspiracy review, I'm keen to explore this inaugural title from brand-new developer A Brave Plan and see just what sort of mysterious experience they've managed to put together.
Your adventure begins much like a Saturday morning in my early 20s: coming to consciousness whilst lying on the floor, unsure of where you are. You soon discover that you’re unable to speak due to damage to your larynx. Certainly, this is an innovative take on the silent protagonist. Your only initial companion is your Bradwell Augmented Reality “Guide” glasses, although you later contact Dr. Amber Randall over voice comms.
From there, you undertake a simple movement tutorial disguised as a medical fitness test. This tapping on the fourth wall is one of the few areas of The Bradwell Conspiracy where the game truly shines. I just wish the remainder was up to par.
The Bradwell Conspiracy Review — Mandatory Corporate Fun
The first two levels are more or less an extended tutorial that introduces you to the game’s mechanics and sets up the world. You learn that Guide glasses can be used as keycards and you get a Substance Mobile Printer, a device that makes use of material formally known as “Bradwellium” and informally known as “Substance”. Simply put, this device allows you to learn blueprints, 3D print these objects, and reclaim them once you are done with them.
There are two particularly frustrating aspects of the SMP. Firstly, some objects get “locked” in place due to “Health & Safety Regulations” after a puzzle has been completed. Secondly, the end of some levels robs you of your Substance and blueprints, effectively forcing you to start anew with basic items rather than smartly building the mechanics on what you already have. It really feels like a missed opportunity.
The employee orientation in the second level was one of the better parts of the game, if only because it features the talented voice acting of Mr. Jonathan Ross (a British television presenter and avid gamer). It also served to highlight some of the biggest problems.
The Bradwell Conspiracy Review — Third Time’s The Charm
I experienced three mildly different versions of The Bradwell Conspiracy as the game gradually changed prior to release (as they are wont to do). One of the changes prior to release highlighted something that is both a boon and a detriment to the game: the developer’s “hands-off” approach to progress.
For my first time through one puzzle, I had crossed a gap by building a bridge. On a second, later attempt on a newer version, I was blocked from doing the same. This made me think that perhaps my first solution was incorrect, and it turns out that it was. I was supposed to snap photos of the doors which Amber would then remotely open.
Much like the SMP, your camera is an integral part of the game that is sometimes used to solve puzzles. It can also be a source of major annoyance.
The Bradwell Conspiracy Review — Shutterbug Sarcasm
The first thing players learn how to do in The Bradwell Conspiracy is walk around. The very next thing is how to make use of the camera, a function rather annoyingly bound to the space button.
You can take photographs anywhere at any time. If it’s plot-relevant, Amber will comment on it and perhaps give you some useful information. If it’s simply an intriguing object (such as a pair of high heels on the floor), she’ll instead make some sort of amusing comment about it. The third category, however, is where things get a bit rough.
You see, if you take a picture of an object you’ve already photographed or (much more likely) photograph something that Amber doesn’t have a programmed response for, she replies with either sarcasm, derision, or whines about you “spamming” her with photos.
This gets particularly aggravating considering that The Bradwell Conspiracy is very hands-off with the player; you have a lot of freedom to explore, but there are some puzzles where it’s easy to get lost. In desperation, you might snap a bunch of photos hoping that Amber will reveal some wisdom to you about what to do, but she’ll often just respond with the same three or four canned responses. It quickly became grating and brought the whole experience down.
The Bradwell Conspiracy Review | Premature Culmination
Annoyances about my camera technique aside, the biggest sin committed by The Bradwell Conspiracy is how it fails to present a satisfying ending. What’s more, it was a terribly short experience. As the credits rolled, I checked my playtime on the Steam overlay and found it to be at 180 minutes on the dot.
Have you ever read a book or watched a movie, got to the end, and thought, “That’s it?” An utter sense of disappointment at a story not reaching its fullest potential? The Bradwell Conspiracy does exactly that. The writers (to their credit) have built a fantastic world. They just did their narrative (and the players) a disservice by not making the most of it. There are so many unanswered questions about the mysteries presented here that I feel cheated.
The Bradwell Conspiracy is like a fun-size candy bar: you love it for the short time that it exists and you wish that it has more substance. I’m terribly disappointed in the final product, and I hesitate to recommend it to anyone. If you’ve found the trailers or previews intriguing, consider your purchase carefully — you’re liable to walk away unfulfilled.
TechRaptor reviewed The Bradwell Conspiracy on PC via Steam with a key provided by the developers. It is also available on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Apple Arcade.
- Excellent Worldbuilding
- Clever Writing
- Worldbuilding Isn’t Explored Well
- Puzzle Solutions Are Sometimes Confusing
- Amber’s Sarcasm Gets Annoying