It seems like nowadays, everyone wants to be a sleuthing detective, whether it be by watching True Crime Dramas, TikTok investigation, or simply by gaming. The modern-day gaming incarnation of Sherlock Holmes has brought about some game-changing aspects for detective gameplay, since the likes of the underrated Condemned 2. But I feel it’s high time we expand the roaster of detective characters in gaming and give Sherlock Holmes a break (I’m still waiting for that Columbo anime game). In the meantime, we can play This Bed We Made, which puts us into the sleuthing shoes of a hotel maid solving a rather perplexing case at the establishment where she works.
Does This Bed We Made manage to solve the case of making a compelling, refreshing detective game that’s not Sherlock Holmes? Or does it mess up the bed?What is This Bed We Made
This Bed We Made is a short but tightly woven, third-person narrative mystery game where every choice and small decision makes an impact. It’s a beautifully crafted tale of Sophie, a chambermaid who loves celebrity gossip, and observing the lives of others, who finds herself at the heart of a real mystery. For better, and worse.
While cleaning a room for one of her guests, Sophie discovers a makeshift dark room and inside it, a collection of photos of her and other people. She contacts her colleagues/chums at the reception, and this sets off a personal investigation into the guest, why they have the photos and other suspicious items, and what they could be up to.
What we get is a short and sweet venture into voyeurism, deceit, and love, as Sophie’s nosing around in the lives of others soon turns a sinister turn. What unfolds is a whole lot of sleuthing, deciphering and whether intentionally or unintentionally shaping the course and outcome of the mystery.Leave no bed sheet unmade
Now to be upfront, This Bed WE Made isn’t about the gameplay loop or the complexity of its mechanics. It’s incredibly simple when it comes to gameplay and world design, with there being 3 main areas to explore, and a handful of investigative mechanics, which are very basic in their effort.
However, This Bed We Made is designed to be a strong narrative-driven experience, where the sleuthing gameplay is not the focus, but rather the unravelling of the drama, and the choices you make. Sophie will engage in searching a few hotel rooms, picking up crucial and non-crucial items, and discovering a grander understanding of what is going on, while from time to time piecing together clues or fixing a faulty fuse box. There are of course puzzles, deduction and discovery of safe codes and the like, to progress the story forward onto the next big step of the mystery.
The most compelling aspect of gameplay here is being able to clean hotel rooms, which does seem odd but makes sense in two ways. First, you are a chambermaid and need to carry out your duties by emptying bins, making beds, and cleaning sinks, bathtubs and mirrors. But also, is to allow the disposal of evidence in the case you’ve managed to get yourself in. Be it handwritten notes between lovers, potential threats towards certain people, or photos of said chambermaid.
The CSI gameplay doesn’t go much further than reading documents, gathering notes and clues, figuring out safe combinations and piecing together torn-up letters containing hidden messages. And I didn’t need it to. I respected and rather enjoyed the honest manner of the lateral elements, as it felt real and humbly enjoyable. My favourite parts were deciphering a secret language or codes to lockboxes, and even making a plaster replica of a key to unlock a mysterious ornate chest. These were very entertaining moments which felt real and something we would all love to do in real life.
I would say there are some infuriating aspects when it comes to some codes and passes, be it the safes in each room which require 3 sets of double-digit codes. Not a massive problem, but you can only unlock the safe, when you’ve read all the relevant documents, or found all the key items which might have part of the answer. This again is fine in theory, but it is very easy to miss items, especially when there is quite a bit of clutter and décor you can pick up and examine. I also felt there were some issues with controls, particularly in smaller moments which were quite crucial. One moment I had to gently turn a fragile makeshift key in a lock, without breaking it ideally. The controls are clear, but the sensitivity was ridiculous, as moving the desired control did nothing until I "apparently" moved it too far and thus, the key broke. It didn’t feel like my fault and just poor control input in the game.
It's all quite forgivable when you consider the amount of depth in decision-making, whether you realise it or not. I loved the idea that each choice matters, and more importantly, the choices you don’t realise are there. There’s a moment very early in the game, which you can miss completely, resulting in a colleague slipping on a puddle. There are quite a few of these moments, where the choice is never too clear, but stumbling on it or replaying the game to figure it out, really does add an immense amount of depth and replay value. Overshadowing the simplicity of the core mechanics.
And everything ties in so well with the nature of the story, and how everything unravels. And this is a game you do have to (or should) replay to explore the full extent of choices, as many of them are very subtle, which can be a little jarring, as you feel you might miss out on something important without realising it. Yet, this is a short venture which puts in detail and meaningful choices over needless length, which I highly admire.Looking as good as a 4-star hotel
When it comes to presentation, This Bed We Made is beautifully odd and uncanny in many ways. Overall the game does look incredibly nice, with a great sense of colour, capturing the 1950’s décor to the finest detail, and performance-wise ran very smoothly. With character models again are very nice, although they seem to be a little off in certain areas such as movement and facial expressions.
When there’s a cutscene, I feel like I’m watching one of those YouTube videos back from 10 years ago showcasing "ultra-realistic" graphics, or remastered versions of GTA Vice City. Everything is super smooth, and brightly perky, yet doesn’t feel organic rather more it feels uncanny. The arm movements just don’t seem right, with arms looking like that scene in Robocop where the bad guy is shot out the window and suddenly his arms are super long.
It's a real nitpick and I get this is made by a small studio, so it’s something I can overlook. Especially as everything does look super nice, with the odd exception and uncanny trait here and there. But the music, sound design and especially the voice acting are all great. Oh my god, the voice acting is darn good in this and I do hope the actors behind Sophie and Beth get nominated. Please nominate them for all the performance awards! Jeff, you better make this happen!It’s just like one of my trashy pulp novels!
Now the heart of This Bed We Made is certainly the mystery and a thriving narrative experience. The gameplay and mechanics are incredibly simple, yet wholesome and merge well with the story and tone well. It’s a thoroughly engaging mystery, that has plenty of neat twists and turns, some great dramatic reveals, and plenty of interesting side notes that don’t get in the way of the core mystery, but add layers to the replay-ability, as you can change the outcomes of certain events. Be it saving certain people’s livelihoods at the hotel, or even saving them from quite horrid fates, even putting yourself at risk.
But what is the heart and soul of This Bed We Made are the leading lady and her supportive cast. I loved Sophie as she is quite the perfect character for this story and in general, was just a brilliantly written, and performed person I could see being real. Her down-to-earth persona, with some interesting flaws captivated my attention and made me enjoy seeing the adventure through her eyes. As mentioned her voice actor does a terrific job and at no moment did I despise her, or feel there was a moment which felt out of place. The writers clearly understood the focus and character they wanted and made sure she was as likeable as possible.
And as for the supporting cast, there is a mix of those you will hate to love and love to love. Beth being an exceptional supporting character who guided me on my first playthrough, with a gentle fun-loving persona, and caring attitude made me want to engage with her more and more. Seeing Sophie and Beth interact did make me smile and continued to root for them until the very end. And there are others who present interesting dilemmas, and plenty of gravitas to the story and world which opened my heart or left a bitter taste in my mouth.
This Bed We Made doesn’t shy away from some very troubling subject matter, particularly the persecution of homosexuals during the time of the story. There are plenty of underlining hints, and major story beats which are all handled incredibly well and with plenty of thought and consideration. I always strived for a happy ending where possible, as I genuinely felt Sophie, Beth and a few others did deserve the best, even though in reality they were video game characters. But characters I can believe to be true somewhere, be it in the present day or the past.
The mystery is fantastic, and the way you can break it apart, and shape the outcome at the end for yourself and others felt immensely dynamic and cleaver. But what kept me invested where a phenomenal leading lady, and her counterparts, particularly Beth, who I made sure when possible always had the best ending of the story.Overall?
While it doesn’t present the most complex and thriving deduction mechanics in any mystery game I’ve played since forever. This Bed We Made has plenty of heart and soul, with a rich and engaging story, and plenty of phenomenal characters and depth of choice. It is a short, but very sweet affair that grants you so much choice to shape the story as you wish, but never compromises on the excellent writing, character developments and performances.
This Bed We Made is fantastically unique, offering an experience not seen very often. The simplicity of gameplay and odd little bits of jank never overshadowed the wonderful story, and the lovable characters who did resonate with me, unlike so few have in gaming. This is truly a perfect mystery caper, with plenty of heart, soul and compassion, which deserves all the positive attention in the world.
And plenty of awards too! Awards for Sophie and Beth’s actors, please! All the awards, all!
+++ Compelling narrative with plenty of twists and turns.
++ Wonderful characters you’ll love with great voice work.
++ Immense amount of choices, outcomes and replay value.
+ Looks very pretty, sounds great and performance was smooth.
- Some odd jank here and there.
- Sleuthing can be a tat tedious when looking for small items.
- Detective gameplay could be a little more interesting.
A review copy of This Bed We Made was provided by the publisher for this review.