A game that tells so much, yet so very little.
The Bradwell Conspiracy sounds so promising on paper. The game is made by people with a run of accolades, and the intrigue of the story has a way of pulling you in. As I booted up the game and started playing, however, I couldn't help but feel a sense of dread. Something wasn't quite right, in spite of putting my best foot forward to unpack every little detail. The Bradwell Conspiracy simply wasn't all that fun, and is just marred by painful issues that I couldn't shake.
Moving around in a first-person perspective, you are stuck in the Bradwell Stonehenge Museum. An explosion has set certain events in motion, and the only help from outside is Dr. Amber Randall. She is your rock in trying to escape as well as your guide in terms of the themes that the title gradually raises. The problem is that the story lacks any sort of payoff. It is a basic good versus evil plot disguised as something bigger. The game pretends to care about certain characters, but most of these plot points don't receive a proper conclusion. That being said, when The Bradwell Conspiracy sinks its teeth into a theme like mass surveillance, there are some solid points made. It becomes moody and entertaining, but those are fleeting moments rather than the norm.
The gameplay of Bradwell falls very much into the puzzle problem camp. There is a progression mechanic called Substance, and this is used to complete most tasks. You use it to alter various materials, repair broken tools, or open up new passages. Where it falls flat on its face is in how you control the Substance system. The attachment system is flimsy at best, with an error message constantly popping up that you're doing it wrong. The distance between myself and the object seems perfectly fine, but the game doesn't want to give it to me. I was constantly frustrated with getting simple tasks done. The puzzles themselves were mostly fine, but they lacked direction at times.
The Bradwell Conspiracy doesn't run great on Nintendo Switch either. The framerate issues in the game were rough to say the least. Not that it was completely unplayable, but it was far from acceptable either. To make matters worse, the title has some really spotty dialogue triggers. In more than one instance, dialogue started to overlap, ensuring that I was clueless about a situation. The Bradwell Conspiracy is very glitchy in general, even allowing you to go out of bounds in some places. For the most part, the game nearly hits the mark at every aspect, but never quite succeeds.
The Bradwell Conspiracy feels like a waste. The game pulls you in on a high, but falters every step of the way. The puzzles can be entertaining, but the Substance system is frustrating and cumbersome at its absolute best moments. The story makes a big deal out of various themes, but there are only fleeting moments where it all matters. I think that the biggest problem of The Bradwell Conspiracy is that getting through it is neither fun nor rewarding. There are so many frustrating moments to be had that I would simply rather play something else.