Tandy TRS-80 – Bedlam

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Merlin, Picasso, Houdini and Napoleon go into a mental institution…


 

What sounds like the beginning of a hilarious joke is actually a text adventure by Device Oriented Games, the developer with the lamest name possible.

This feels like the millionth game which takes place in a mental hospital.
Was it just a mysterious place that catched people’s interest or did the developers actually went insane from programming all their games in BASIC?
We’ll never know, especially since it’s unclear who even wrote this obscure, little game. What we know is the story.

You awake in a small, padded room and you, as always, have to escape.
Despite the layout of the hospital, everything is randomly generated. Sometimes a crazy doctor will appear and give you a frontal lobotomy. It doesn’t kill you, but from now on the game will choose an additional move.
Slightly annoying, but here’s the catch: the hospital is very small, like 20 rooms small.
No map drawing this time (YES!!!).

Another random element are the encounters with Napoleon, who is strong and can open a secret door, Picasso, who draws doors, Merlin, who stammers nonsense and Houdini, who has trouble freeing himself.
They walk around the facility, but are of no real help at first.
You see, to escape you simply put pills in hamburger meat, feed it to the guard dog and off you go.
But every playthrough is different. The dog may not fall asleep, so you have to get the help from your fellow, famous inmates.

But even then, and this is my biggest gripe, the game is ridiculous short and easy.
You can’t die, there are five items and puzzles and the game takes tops thirty minutes to beat. Make that an hour if you want to see the other endings. The descriptions are also very simple and the text just appears. No fancy effects like Jyym Pearson always did.
At leat the parser recognizes more than two-word inputs.

Still, this is a very enjoyable game for beginners and the character interactions and dialogue can be pretty funny at times.

6/10

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