Review for This Bed We Made
This Bed We Made by Lowbirth Games captured my attention immediately because of its mysterious, intriguing title. I was further seduced by the beguiling 3-D graphics. The suspenseful story ensured that I was invested until the credits rolled. An enticing mystery unfolds and delivers an important lesson about the difficulties of living authentically if one doesn’t fit the societal definition of “normal.” Controlling the protagonist during gameplay was slightly problematic, but my desire to see the end of this story made it a pleasure to persevere.
Sophie, the lead character, is a maid at the Clarington, a hotel in 1950s Montreal. She’s a self-starting, detail-oriented young woman who's a little too inquisitive for her own good. She enjoys snooping in the guests’ belongings and learning about their lives. When she realizes that she is the object of a guest’s questionable activity, she strives to find out why. Sophie must look for evidence while she cleans the hotel’s rooms, and she has the option of keeping what she finds or throwing it out. (Players should remember that law enforcement takes a dim view of tampering with evidence.) Sophie is a very conscientious person and never forgets a task. She will tell the player her current objective when they press the Q key, and she also keeps a journal where she records information about the characters and environment around her, accessed by pressing the E key.
Every good detective needs a partner to help them understand how the evidence affects each case. In This Bed We Made, Sophie has her choice of partners -- Beth or Andrew -- and must decide which of the two will accompany her at the beginning of the investigation. Either colleague serves as a sounding board for Sophie. Additionally, over time, Sophie will have opportunities to romance her partner. Montreal in the 1950s is portrayed as a society with a strict definition of what a “typical” citizen should be. Andrew and Beth are atypical, and the writers did an excellent job of speaking to their distinctiveness without making these differences the only interesting things about them. Andrew is a homebody who enjoys reading books. Beth is more of a social butterfly who savors interacting with people and having a good time. They are both fully developed personalities, revealing how challenging it can be to flourish when one doesn’t fit the standard description of “ordinary.” However, they never lose sight of their main goal; helping Sophie solve the mystery.
Players use the ASWD keys to direct Sophie’s movements and the mouse to govern her actions. I found using the ASWD keys awkward and would have preferred the arrow keys for controlling movement. Perseverance remedied this problem. On-screen instructions assist with using the mouse during various actions. Cleaning, for example, is accomplished by holding the left mouse button and selecting “clean” from the menu. Sometimes tasks like scrubbing a bathtub or soaking up a puddle require holding the left button and moving the mouse back and forth. Sophie’s inventory resides in the upper-right corner of the screen. To use an item, Sophie merely needs to possess it, be in the correct location, and follow the directions. Most of the challenges Sophie encounters involve looking for clues in the guests' absorbing correspondence and other documents. The custom-made, letter writing font can be switched to plain text using the spacebar, making it a lot easier to read. Sophie’s additional investigative tasks involve dialogs with multiple characters. Conversational topics are selected by clicking on the corresponding rectangular buttons; romance-related subjects are identified by small heart icons.
This simple interface allows Sophie to move through a beautifully drawn, realistic 3-D world. She often spends her time snooping in hotel rooms, all of which are messily littered with intriguing trash. My favorite location -- the break room -- is bright and cheery and full of hints about Sophie’s co-workers. Animation strengthens the intricate graphics, especially facial movements that are synced with the dialogs.
Sound design includes a suspenseful title screen song, which is sung with zest by a female vocalist plus, further into the game, subtle background woodwinds and other eerie tones. I appreciated the squeaky door sound effects, along with the oddly repetitive rumble of an elevator and the click of keys and locks. These heightened my anticipation and anxiety as the mystery deepened. The professional voice acting is the most outstanding feature, which greatly intensified my feelings for the characters.
Although flummoxed at first by the movement mechanics, I found This Bed We Made to be suspenseful and engaging, with a remarkably satisfying mystery at its heart. The music and voice acting attracted me like a siren’s song. I would recommend this game to any adventurer.