Game: Adventures of Bertram Fiddle: Episode 2: A Bleaker Predicklement
Set in 1884, precisely a century before the extraordinary events of George Orwell’s famous novel transpired, Adventures of Bertram Fiddle: Episode 2: A Bleaker Predicklement spins around the gears of its own mystery, delightfully strange, unequivocally British, and so utterly confident in its witty, pun-filled neologisms you’ll be chuckling often. From the get go, Bertram Fiddle‘s debonair attitude and background in sleuthing (Adventures of Bertram Fiddle: Episode 1: A Dreadly Business) make a welcome return, diluting the magnitude of your most important task: deciphering the disappearance of your boss, Mr. Dulsworth.
As his name suggests, the soap factory Dulsworth owns is lifeless, muddy and suffocating—until Bertram’s investigation begins, of course. A Bleaker Predicklement features a minimalist pop-out inventory system that’s an exact replica of Bertram’s original adventure. It’s simple, accessible, and does the job, but the real selling point is the je ne sais quoi that springs forth from the modern big-nosed caricatures and stellar characterisation and voice acting; Bertram sounds like an overly pompous aristocrat but is actually an astute, friendly, tea-drinking chap who’s impossibly thin, and his charitable ‘manservant’ Gavin is the total opposite—stout, burly, fond of coffee, and a Peruvian cyclops to boot.
You navigate across multiple screens, hovering the mouse and clicking upon interactive items to collect, decrypt, or combine into something usable. Conversing with NPCs and examining the environment gives vague assistance if you know where to look, and with no optional in-built hint structure or difficulty settings, A Bleacker Predicklement tends to lean more towards tougher, more obscure adventure games of the eighties and nineties. The puzzles start easy, eventually test your patience, but always reward your efforts in perfectly adequate fashion.
As you make progress on Bertram’s grand adventure, gameplay splits into a ‘two-player’ setup in which you need to alternate between Gavin and protagonist Bertram, trading items, chatting with strangers for clues, and collaborating in general. Whilst seamless in integration, I definitely would have preferred a button that lets you instantly change between them—like the system used in many LucasArts adventures—rather than facing the inconvenience of travelling all the way back to a specific location to do it.
Apart from my aforementioned praise of A Bleaker Predicklement‘s audiovisual elements, the final stitch holding this canvas of comedy together is bloody good writing. While the rampant use of puns might come across as cringeworthy to some, there’s genuine humour weaved in, particularly with names like “Lord Arthwipe” and “Mr Keith De Bauchery”, and pure hilarity in almost every mission. Personal standouts included saving an imprisoned artist from eternal despair, discombobulating a pastry chef, and distracting a police officer with his greatest temptation.
Designed with experienced adventure gamers in mind, A Bleaker Predicklement promises a jolly good time and delivers on all counts. Whether you’re looking to bask slowly in witty humour, unravel quirky puzzles, or simply enjoy a niche Victorian point and click mystery, Bertram & Co. are a truly lovable bunch and worthy of your time.
Adventures of Bertram Fiddle: Episode 2: A Bleaker Predicklement is available on Steam for $14.99 USD.
Full Disclosure: A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for purposes of this review.