There’s been an explosion in a museum – and you need to escape.
The year is 2026. You’ve spent the afternoon at the Bradwell Stonehenge Museum, celebrating the summer solstice at their annual gala. But it hasn’t been all smiles and Pimms and lemonade; something went very wrong. There’s been an explosion. The futuristic building has gone into full security lockdown mode. Everyone else managed to escape, apart from you – and now, getting out is easier said than done.
That’s the opening plot of The Bradwell Conspiracy, an upcoming adventure/puzzle game from A Brave Plan and Bossa Studios. It’s out next week, but I’ve had my hands on a preview – and I’m raring to play more.
Instantly, the game’s narrative grabbed me. Your unnamed character wakes up, dazed and confused, with the ruins of a museum around them. There’s a guide’s voice helping them through the motions in their ear; it’s 2026, so a pair of smart glasses acts as the museum curator. Thankfully, it’s pretty well-versed in what to do in an emergency, so you’re led to your feet, and told to calmly make your way to the exit.
Except… the exit is closed off, and with the museum’s security system in lockdown, there’s no way to open it up. No problem; your guide directs you to the closest emergency exit. Climbing over and under a bit of rubble, you make it there safely – only to find that one’s closed too. Damn.
As it turns out, you’re not quite the only person left in the Bradwell Stonehenge Museum. Your smart glasses pick up a voice – an employee of Bradwell who’s also trapped, but in a different part of the building. Thankfully she’s got a bit more knowledge of the building than you, so she’s able to give you a bit of a helping hand. There’s only one problem: you inhaled some smoke during the explosion, so you’re unable to speak. In order to communicate with Maria, your only option is to use your smart glasses to take photos of your location. Hey, at least there’s an explanation for a silent protagonist for a change.
Bradwell isn’t just a museum; it’s a massive company involved in tech, science and all kinds of futuristic research. As it turns out, they’ve developed their own material known as Bradwellium – or simply “substance”. It’s matter than can be absorbed and reprinted at any time, using a Substance Mobile Printer. And as luck would have it, you manage to get your hands on one.
The Bradwell Conspiracy quickly turns from a mystery exploration game to a physics puzzle game. It’s very reminiscent of the likes of Portal. But unlike numerous other Portal clones that have been and gone in the last decade, it’s one that manages to carve out its own identity by creating an intriguing and captivating world that leaves you desperate to know more. Your Substance Mobile Printer – or SMP device – allows you to absorb items and their blueprints, to recreate them. Your only limit is the amount of matter you have. Cue environmental puzzles that require you to print boards in order to cross gaps, or print keys to unlock doors.
The demo has only shown me the first three chapters of the game so far, so there’s much more of The Bradwell Conspiracy left to unpack. There’s no doubting, though, that what I’ve seen has left a very positive impression. Time will tell if puzzles will be varied enough to stay fresh – will I just end up printing the same items and reusing the same solutions? – but it’s safe to say that the story is already fascinating. It’s clear, even from the title alone, that not all is as it seems at Bradwell. There’s a lot of questions posed within the first couple of chapters in the game, and I can’t wait to find answers.
The Bradwell Conspiracy launches on PS4 and Steam on 8th October, Switch on 10th October and Xbox One on 11th October. We’ll have a full review next week.