“We’ll choose knowledge no matter what, we’ll maim ourselves in the process, we’ll stick our hands into the flames for it if necessary. Curiosity is not our only motive; love or grief or despair or hatred is what drives us on.” Margaret Atwood
This Bed We Made is an intriguing mystery game that follows an inquisitive maid around a 1950s Hotel as she peruses the guest’s belongings. Players must find out what links the various characters, put the pieces of the puzzle together, and uncover a dramatic overarching story of love and betrayal.
Developer: Lowbirth Games
Released: 1st November 2023
Price: £20.99 – £24.99
This Bed We Made’s story is a satisfying slow burner. It follows Sophie Roy, a curious maid working at the Clarington Hotel in the late 1950s. Through her meticulous snooping, she uncovers details about the lives of the hotel’s guests, including some of their deepest darkest secrets. The narrative focuses on LGBT themes as well as mental health, family, and societal stigma and pressures. It touches on some heavy subject matter in a sensitive way whilst staying true to the often outdated sensibilities of the era. There are a host of interesting side characters, some of whom are not physically encountered, all with distinct personalities and backstories. These add depth to the world and help create a believable and richly-filled environment for Sophie to explore and learn about.
The game plays like a cross between a walking simulator and a choose-your-own-adventure novel. There are many decisions to be made, all of which have a distinct impact on the game and story. This can be obvious dialogue choices and actions but a lack of input can also have a dramatic effect. Choosing not to do certain things, including seemingly inconsequential interactions, can make as much of a difference to the narrative as direct actions making for a really interesting and involved experience.
Players can make choices about things such as who on the staff to choose as an acolyte which is very obviously impactful, but also decide what to clean up or throw away, as well as when and where to pry! The player must also decide how to balance their duties as a maid with their investigation of the mystery that becomes apparent after their initial snooping. There is also a small number of puzzles such as cracking key codes, these are minimal but add an extra layer of interaction and are very satisfying to solve.
A key part of the game is exploring and finding items and documents that let the player get to know about different characters, their individual situations, as well as assisting in piecing together the bigger picture regarding events in the hotel. A journal of sorts is available to the player, showing their progress, a log of the different characters they have learnt about, as well as all of the clues that have been found. This is very useful in keeping track of all the information, helps inform future decisions and prevents lots of backtracking. The player inventory is also shown on the screen at all times as part of the minimal but functional UI.
This Bed We Made utilises a pleasing, realistic art style that makes use of vibrant but slightly muted colours giving a suitable vintage feel to the visuals. There is a good level of detail in the environment and objects helping to bring the world to life and really immersing the player in the experience. The soundtrack uses a mix of diegetic and non-diegetic music, the latter consisting mostly of piano and strings to create a dramatic, tension-building backing to certain parts of the game. The music could be considered a little sparse but this helps emphasise the solitude of the protagonist as she works and is actually very effective in subtly creating a foreboding atmosphere. The sound effects are also minimal but help create a sense of the environment and its’ deteriorating state with noises such as door creaks and footsteps.
A single but thorough playthrough of This Bed We Made will take a little over five hours, however, there is a good amount of replayability afforded by all the different decisions that are made throughout the game as well as the numerous achievements available. The experience offers a highly intriguing narrative, complete with rich character development, red herrings and suspense. The overall aesthetic is beautifully suited to the style of the game and the story, effectively representing the 1950s setting with realistic visuals, clever sound design and atmospheric lighting. The gameplay is minimal but very gratifying, also suiting the storyline and setting very well. All of this amalgamates into a unique and captivating experience that really adds to the concept of a walking simulator without deviating too much from the genre’s constraints. I thoroughly enjoyed this game, it was a lot of fun and I’d highly recommend it to anyone who loves a good, satisfying mystery with a lot of depth.
Looking for more satisfying mystery games? Check out the following reviews:
Once Upon a Crime in the West – A Murder Mystery – Murder is Game Over – A Villainous Point-and-Click Whodunnit! – Ghost on the Shore: Brand New Emotional Exploration Game