The developers over at Rumpus Animation are back with a second point-and-click experience following the part-time explorer, part-time crime solver and full-time delightfully smug chap, Bertram Fiddle. After an impressive opening episode for the series, does Adventures of Bertram Fiddle Episode 2: A Bleaker Predicklement provide a grander instalment that warrants the extra few bob over the one which came before it? Or is it not worth spending all of your hard-earned pennies on?
Well, it’s bigger, longer, and more adventurous, but with that comes a few little issues that hold Adventures of Bertram Fiddle Episode 2 back from being up there alongside the greatest of the point-and-click genre.
Bertram Fiddle Episode 2: A Bleaker Predicklement picks up the story at a time when the infamous ‘Geoff the Murderer’ – he kills people, funnily enough – has been laying low for quite a while. In the meantime, Bertram is settled into the job his wife forced him to get and now spends his days working at Mr. Dulsworth’s Adequate Soap Factory. Suddenly, a telephone call provides Mr. Fiddle with an excuse to dabble in a spot of investigating, which coincidently leads to an encounter with that mean swine Geoff. Essentially, Bertram ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time and is framed for murder; he’s doomed to rot in prison, unless he can prove it wasn’t him.
Between the over-the-top British dialogue, the increasingly odd twists in the narrative, and the wonderfully weird character designs, you’ll not want to miss a second of the storytelling. There are a lot of familiar faces from Episode 1 like Sherlock Holmes and Lord Arthwipe, however new characters are also introduced to ensure a varied selection of interesting, yet strange, folk can be conversed with – including a certain Dr. who possesses an evil alter-ego. It helps that the voiceovers are of such a high quality, even if a little outlandish, to capture their personalities. And even the most innocuous of interactions could lead to a chuckle; probably after hearing a totally awful pun that’s so bad, that it’s actually great.
Generally, the gameplay is focused on finding items for your inventory that can be used to conjure up a makeshift solution to a problem at hand. Whilst Bertram is the main character to send all over Victorian London, his man-servant Cyclops Gavin also steps into that role for a short time. The solutions aren’t always straightforward, but the developers have been crafty and clever in providing clues via the dialogue. So if you pay attention, you’ll catch onto the wordplay that makes it a bit more obvious as to what’s required; for example, some ‘mouldy’ cheese could be used as a mould for a key.
Maybe other games of the genre have spoiled us in terms of including puzzles which aren’t inventory-based or mini-games, but across the four hours or so I think there could be more of them here. Those that are present would be considered splendid though, with a stupidly funny switchboard puzzle kicking things off and a scientific experiment at the latter end of the experience, sandwiching a couple of other decent predicaments halting your progression.
In regards the visuals, the artistic direction is definitely aimed at presenting a cavalcade of characters that look rather strange and it works brilliantly for the type of wacky humour these adventures bring to the table. It’s good to wander around many of the old-timey shops and lavish buildings where the rich tend to congregate because there are plenty of cool things to interact with, or just look at. Unfortunately, there have been a fair few issues that see the environments experience rendering faults and so the backgrounds end up being pixelated. In addition to this, Bertram and Gavin occasionally merge together when traversing, which is a bit messy.
Many can overlook such shortcomings, but when Bertram gets stuck and won’t advance between areas due to a technical hitch, then it begins to get a tad annoying. Will it ruin your enjoyment of Adventures of Bertram Fiddle Episode 2? Not really, as thankfully it tends to sort itself out eventually.
On the whole, Adventures of Bertram Fiddle Episode 2: A Bleaker Predicklement on Xbox One follows the impressive debut episode with another instalment that ticks a lot of the necessary boxes that make a great point-and-click game. The inventory-based conundrums are well thought-out, the story is good enough to keep players interested and, best of all, it’s bloody funny in so many ways. If only the visual discrepancies and the technical hiccups were ironed out, alongside the addition of more mini-games, then it could’ve been even better.
Still, for under a tenner, you’d be foolish to miss out on Adventures of Bertram Fiddle Episode 2: A Bleaker Predicklement. It’s great value for money and here’s hoping there’s more of Bertram to come further down the line!