The Bermuda Triangle is a stretch of water located between several islands in the Caribbean; an area that since the 1950s has been shrouded in mystery. Planes and ships have mysteriously disappeared mid-journey, seeing investigators dream up tales of UFO abductions and ghostly time warps. Barry Manilow – the ’80s crooner – even sung about it. Down in Bermuda uses the mystery of the triangle in a game that focuses on a plane crash survivor who has been stranded on an island, before deciding that it’s worth trying to get back home. The question is, can you help this man? Can you escape the Bermuda Triangle?
Down in Bermuda is a puzzle game by those who brought us the excellent Agent A. This time around the game puts you into the shoes of an old man who crash-landed his plane over 30 years ago, and has been surviving on a desert island for all this time. He decides it’s time to leave his temporary home and travel back to his old life. I don’t know why he didn’t try this earlier, but I don’t think that’s the main story focus of the game. From there you are left to travel across six different islands, solving puzzles and unlocking a portal that will eventually take you back. Bits of the man’s previous life are revealed through photographs you find and pieces of memory that the old man will remember. It’s a nice technique of drip-feeding the narrative but, honestly, Down in Bermuda is all about the puzzling.
Before I go too deep, I have to admit to feeling that this game was initially designed with touch screen devices as part of its overall plan, rather than a controller. The action involves touching items, dragging switches and swiping across the screen to move. The transition to Xbox delivers a good port, but the camera is troublesome to start with and it takes a while for it to become truly natural to use.
You see, you don’t actually move the man himself, and the main objective is to find 30 or so little orbs hidden around the island, as well as several bigger orbs, all by completing objectives. The smaller orbs are hidden in plain view; some under rocks or amongst the leaves of the trees. You can explore the world around you by moving left and right, as well as changing the perspective by turning the view 360 degrees in any direction. By doing this you can find those little orbs hidden in all manner of places. It’s nice that you can also pick up a map in each of the six islands that show you exactly where the orbs are hidden.
The tasks at hand centralise on touching certain objects to make them move or activate to reveal hidden treasures. For example, on one island there are small rafts dotted around which if you hit will move, magically revealing an orb. The bigger orbs are where the main objectives lay though, and these need to be completed too. Thankfully these are the more interesting and complex of the puzzles included.
There are some ingenious puzzles found in Down in Bermuda which see you having to activate buttons, pull switches or, even at times, fire cannons at huge monsters to get your rewards. You will also get to meet some residents of each island; one is a giant underground supercomputer who gives you tasks, while on another there are some pirates who you are saving from a giant Kraken by firing it into a whirlpool.
The game is hugely fun and highly addictive throughout, and it’s an ideal title for kids to play as well as adults, all whilst managing to test the brain with some “Where’s Wally?”-styled gameplay. You should also be able to complete it in around four hours, but go deep and delve into everything it brings in terms of achievements and secrets, and expect to find a good few hours more.
Visually, Down in Bermuda comes with a pleasant style and some great game design that almost replicates that of a pop-up children’s book. All the characters, creatures, and locations have a distinct visual comic book style that is a trademark of this developer, but it’s great throughout; I especially like the flashback sequences of the old man’s past life told through found photographs. The soundtrack is likable too, and certainly works well for this type of game.
Spending time in the Bermuda Triangle with Down in Bermuda on Xbox is tremendous. It’s a game where you can just kick back and relax, solving puzzles in your own time without anything trying to kill you, or you ever needing to worry about silly time restraints. The story is simple but endearing, and at the same time it’s a game that is very family-friendly – the puzzles are tricky but not impossible to work out. I found the camera quite complicated initially but once you get used to how things work with this move to Xbox, then it all becomes second nature to use. It’s also good to see that the range of objectives is rewarding, and spending time finding the secrets will bring you back for more.
So, as Barry Manilow once sang, “So Bermuda Triangle here we come!”