And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.
—Genesis 11:6 (the Tower of Babel chapter)
Set in an alternate universe version of Victorian England, Slouching Towards Bedlam
casts the player as Dr. Thomas Xavier, an employee of Bedlam Asylum. When the game opens, he's dealing with the recent suicide of one of his patients, a severely delusional case named Cleve Anderson who spoke in tongues during his sleep, claimed to be "infected"
by something that altered the very nature of his being, and had ties to an underground group of mystics. As the game unfolds, he learns that perhaps Cleve was not so delusional after all...
An Interactive Fiction
game, and winner of the 2003 IF Competition
, the game is notable for its extremely immersive and thought-provoking writing. You can play it online here.
This game provides examples of:
- Abandoned Hospital: Much of Bedlam.
- Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: One ending's appendix implies that due to your actions, humanity is departing Earth and going elsewhere.
- Bedlam House: The original!
- Driven to Suicide: Cleve. Dr. Xavier, in some endings.
- Eldritch Abomination: The Logos.
- Go Mad from the Revelation: Cleve. Possibly Dr. Xavier, as well.
- Have a Nice Death: Required for several endings (whether any ending is "good" or "bad" is mostly left to the player to decide.)
- Humanoid Abomination: Cleve, post-infection ... and you.
- Justified Save Point: The Logos exists outside of linear time, justifying Dr. Xavier's miraculous ability to undo actions, save, or restore his game. Cleve can do all of that too.
- Lovecraft Lite: The Logos can be stopped. Not without great sacrifice, however.
- Multiple Endings: Five, and which one you get depends on how you dealt with the Logos, as well as who you infected with it.
- Nails on a Blackboard: Something in your head really doesn't like the sound in Cell 6A. That room seems to be empty, except for an insect chirping; but observing it in the Panopticon triggers a reaction.
- Press Start To Game Over: You can jump out of the window in the first room. That's one of the endings, too. It Makes Sense in Context, once you've figured out what's going on, to restart the game and kill yourself.
- Robot Buddy: TRIAGE.
- Room Full of Crazy: Cleve's cell. (Triage can help you translate the scribblings.)
- Second-Person Narration: Averted, unusually for an IF game. Everything you do is in passive voice. The apparent disembodiment of your character is a hint to the game's main mystery.
- The Virus: The Logos. Unusual in that it might not be considered bad... but it causes definite changes in its hosts, and it wants to spread.
- Trial-and-Error Gameplay: In-universe example, but not part of the game itself. Check the notes about Cleve "saving" and "restoring".
- Two Shots From Behind The Bar: Du Monde seems to have a custom weapon behind the counter.