A camping trip. Nothing special about those, and as such, what could possibly go wrong… in a visual novel featuring aliens who live beneath the deep blue? Unfortunately for Edward and his friends, a lot. Which it does. In spite of his never wavering faith in God. Welcome to Bermuda.
Abductions are never fun for anyone involved. Well, I suppose those in charge of the operation, if sadistic enough, might get a kick out of the whole thing. But in Bermuda? Yeah, I have my doubts that is actually the case here, although who can tell? Sometimes first impressions are just that, and everyone has some kind of secret, just waiting to be uncovered. Which our little group who suddenly finds themselves onboard an alien submarine is going to have plenty of time to do as they twiddle their thumbs, waiting to find out whether they’ll be sent home or executed. Except, they don’t simply sit idly by. Actions speak louder than words, and thus begins this visual novel/stealth puzzle hybrid.
One thing that immediately struck me as unusual, albeit in a good way, is that every character, including the narrator, was voiced. Not just the brief grunts and other ‘reaction’ sound bits some visual novels make use of either. No, fully voiced. That said, some were arguably better than others, but none stood out as downright bad or a poor choice for the character they were portraying. Oh, and in case you’re wondering: yup, Bermuda totally does the ‘aliens speak English because they just do’ thing. Which is fine. It’s a relatively short experience, clocking in at an hour and change, from way back in 2015.
A completely different era, really. Both for independently developed games, but also for its creator, InvertMouse; a name long-term readers of my blog might be familiar with. A time before horror hit Clea, but also the emotional tale, The Last Birdling. Is its runtime in any way related to the year in which it was released, though? Hardly, seeing how the Steam page claims it “aims to be a succinct story that players can enjoy around their busy schedules”. 2015 was indeed a long time ago.
Anyway, enough about the past. Edward & co. are still imprisoned onboard that submarine after all, and only skillful gameplay and clever tactics are going to enable you to get past… the stealth missions. Ah, the stealth missions. While I can certainly see the appeal of these relatively short puzzle sequences, I’d be lying if I said the ability to skip them completely wasn’t a very welcome addition. Whether I was simply not patient enough to wade through the four floors, flicking light switches, disabling cameras, and hiding in restrooms to avoid and divert guards away from my objective – hard to say. I did enjoy the first few, each with their own unique objective, but then the challenge was ramped up significantly and I realized that clicking the >> button prompts you to simply ignore the whole thing. Which I gladly did to get more story beats sooner rather than later.
Speaking of which, while brief, I would still very much recommend checking the bonus conversations in each episode as they do help flesh out the characters involved. Some are obviously flashbacks while others are trickier to actually place on a timeline. Not like players will be navigating a branching narrative spanning several in-game weeks though, as Bermuda is a kinetic (ie. no choice-making gameplay) novel, and as such, only one way for everything to conclude. Which it did quite nicely, I might add.
Would I have made different choices in the hopes of certain scenes playing out differently, given the option? Without a doubt. But I knew going in that there would be none of that here, and in case that hadn’t already been made clear, simply going with the flow of the tale unfolding before me… left me with no regrets. It is after all the story intended to be told by its creator, and while multiple routes/endings can greatly expand a visual novel, it can be a bit of a double-edged sword, really.
If you know ahead of time that alternative outcomes, whether they involve lengthy ‘what if…?’ scenarios or simply minor dialogue changes, are you going to be satisfied until you’ve experienced all of it? For me, the answer is a resounding ‘no’, but there are those who prefer a perfectly linear narrative for that same reason: that way, they can be certain that every tidbit has been uncovered, every piece of information presented to the reader, without the need for one or more replays.
Needless to say, I could keep going about this topic for another far too many words, but such is for another time. Instead, how about I leave you with a strong recommendation to pick up a copy of Bermuda and find out for yourself what the deal is with those aliens, and why they abducted Edward’s entire camping trip?
Bermuda is available on Steam, carrying a $2.99 price tag.