Featuring a substance called ‘substance’
Waking up in the ruins of a museum dedicated to Stonehenge, my character moves around the remnants of a launch celebration. The celebration was apparently to mark the Clean Water Initiative from Bradwell Electronics, and I discover it’s the summer solstice of 2026—a significant point to be at Stonehenge. More pressing than dealing with the ‘conspiracy’ element of the title, though, is getting my character out of the creaking and groaning building. I’m equipped with a pair of AR smart glasses. These allow me to transition to a Firewatch- ish setup where I’m interacting with an unseen companion via a device.
A fellow survivor, Amber, can talk with me, but the blast has damaged my voice, so I can only interact with her by using the glasses to take and send photos. A little way in, I switch my visitor smart glasses for employee glasses.
I was expecting that switcheroo to just change my permissions or security clearance. Instead it gave me access to a nifty tool which picks up the blueprints of objects and then uses a substance called, uh, ‘substance’ to 3D print an object using that blueprint. The first use I made of it was to print a key for a lock, but later on I was printing and rotating tiles and statues of cats and dogs to solve puzzles.
The combination of 3D printing puzzles and photo communication is curious, and I want to see how it develops. I’m also interested to see how the photo side shapes up, especially outside the confines of the puzzles. For example, I know I can take a picture of a room to let Amber know I’ve arrived there, but what if I send her tons pictures of a pen I found? There’s the potential for a kind of image-based repartee, although it might be a complicated thing to implement.
There’s enough in the game to make me curious, but it’s very much a work-inprogress and things like flow and pacing are a bit wonky. For example, the building shakes and creaks to indicate it’s falling down, but I ended up reading about all the exhibits as I ambled towards the exits, so I’m hoping the devs find a way to bake in a sense of urgency early on.
At first glance, TheBradwell Conspiracy reminded me of TheStanley Parable with its functional aesthetic. Both take place in spaces designed to be flexible—museums, offices and utility areas. They’re liminal and also weird when devoid of people. Hopefully TheBradwell Conspiracy can harness this spatial uncertainty in service of its mystery.
I ended up reading all the exhibits as I ambled towards the exits