After Bertram Fiddle and his man companion, Gary first got involved in A Dreadly Business back in 2015, tales of duplicitous Victorian devils skulking in the fog of old London town haven’t quite held the same menace. Now Rumpus Games are back after a successful Kickstarter project, with the latest tale from this thoroughly adequate sleuth, Bertram Fiddle: A Bleaker Predicklement.
Best known for not being Sherlock Holmes, Bertram now languishes in the soap business. Selling suds for Mr. Dullsworth’s Soap Factory is not quite as thrilling as collaring felons, and thankfully it does not take long before Bertram is out of soap and busy sneaking around the squalid London back-alleys. This doesn’t all go too well for our hero, however, and he is swiftly fingered as Geoff The Murderer.
Much like during our first encounter with Bertram and man-servant Gary, we find Bertram languishing in the shadows of greater men, and not much else has changed for Bertram or Rupus games. During A Dreadly Business, a series of point and click puzzles stood in Bertram’s way out of trouble and Rumpus has not meddled with this formula. The side scrolling point and click approach continue, although the two-dimensional world of Victorian London has grown in size. Rumpus Games drafted in help from publisher Deck 13 this time round and the game is clearly of a slightly grander scale.
Old London is similarly familiar. Filled with cyclops man servants, adventurers, and larger than life inhabitants, it is beautifully animated and continues to play host to a very peculiar population. You will be hard pressed to simply disregard these characters, their crooked teeth, and their bulging noses. Playing as Gary, Bertram’s one eyed Peruvian manservant is particularly fun. Gary and the rest of the cast are drawn and voiced with the sort of zealous enthusiasm that makes the quirky left field humor in Rumpus Game’s puzzles work, most of the time. Dialogue is laden with puns, but if these don’t tickle you immediately then there is not a huge amount of variation. Like much of the game, the writing follows the precedent established in 2015’s outing.
Whether you are cracking some despicable corny puns, pinching a unicorn horn, or repurposing a squirrel for art, life in the world of Bertram Fiddle doesn’t seem dull. It is, however, fairly straightforward. Just like A Dreadly Business, the puzzles in this episode are adequate without delving into the twisted logic that can plague point and click games. Obstacles encountered make sense and sometimes manage to be a little less linear than during A Dreadly Business. You will still need to use items collected throughout the game. Use some ladders to reach an item, scrub clean graffiti with a brush, or unlock a chain with a key, all of which are stored in Bertram’s unusually deep pockets.
Thankfully some of the logical leaps did manage to leave me clicking until something worked and getting items like ladders can take a few unconnected steps. A simple control scheme is present in A Bleaker Predicklement, making Bertram’s outings easily accessible to newcomers. In the sewers, out in the town, or swanning around the adventuring club, areas of interest are highlighted by pressing the spacebar and players are ushered through the narrative, which can sometimes make the world feel a little shallow. Rumpus Games has taken steps to have areas of the town change as a simple control scheme is present in A Bleaker Predicklement, making Bertram’s outings easily accessible to newcomers.
In the sewers, out in the town, or swanning around the adventuring club, areas of interest are highlighted by pressing the spacebar and players are ushered through the narrative, which can sometimes make the world feel a little shallow. Rumpus Games has taken steps to have areas of the town change as events occur, making the world feel more alive than during A Dreadly Business. Still, too often too much of the game’s cast has far too little to say. Click on a character a few times and they will simply repeat the same dialogue once more, revealing no more than cursory clues. Compared to a game like the Sexy Brutale this is left wanting and feeling somewhat hollow.
While Bertram Fiddle: A Bleaker Predicklement is a classic point and click adventure, it is not Grim Fandango difficult. It is a witty caper full of characters you wouldn’t want to meet down your local high street and a witty charm that does not fail to amuse. The team at Rumpus Games has taken some notable steps in the latest iteration of this series and it benefits from the extra care and attention. In the end, this comes down to personal preference, if you enjoyed the adequate adventurer’s Dreadly Adventure you will have a smashing time with A Bleaker Predicklement.
- witty writing
- great animation and stupendous voice acting
- definite improvements on the previous game
- World can feel a bit hollow
- no real innovation