Review: This Bed We Made
Does anyone remember playing those old Nancy Drew mystery games for Windows? The thrill of solving a mystery? The daunting task of investigating suspects and poking around for clues? I used to *love* them and have to admit that I end up comparing every mystery game I play to them in some way or another. However, most games I’ve played that are from a similar genre haven’t really given me the same level of excitement, that is until I played This Bed We Made.
This Bed We Made is a third-person mystery game developed and published by Lowbirth Games. It was released for PS5 and PC on November 1st, 2023, and will follow suit on the Xbox Series X|S & PlayStation 4 on December 13th. The PS5 version was played for this review.
Sophie: The Super Maid-Detective
This Bed We Made follows a day in Sophie’s life. Sophie is a maid in the 1950s at the fancy Clarington Hotel where she is in charge of cleaning the fifth floor. While going about her duties, she comes across some pictures of herself in a guest’s room, a discovery that sets her on a mission to uncover what exactly binds the residents of her floor together.
This Bed We Made actually has several mysteries going on at the same time, despite coming off as a sort of murder mystery. However, the many loose threads are all incorporated very well and are engaging enough to keep you moving forward toward the overarching theme. I think the multi-story approach was done on purpose as Lowbirth Games makes it very clear in both their team’s description and their description of the game that they were interested in exploring a wide range of themes.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I was completely captivated by This Bed We Made’s story. It’s short but takes quite a few winding turns that left me surprised more than once. Every character you encounter has personality and enough personal drive to feel real. In fact, the more I engaged with things pertaining to them, or with them in general, the more interested I became in uncovering what exactly was going on in their lives. This drive made me love the game…and also provided me with two of my biggest gripes.
My first gripe stems from the way Lowbirth Games decided to present their characters. A lot of them just don’t exist on screen. What I mean by that is that they are given life as pictures in Sophie’s journal, or as actual pictures around the hotel, but they don’t have character models and you don’t actually get to ever talk to them in person. I can understand that it’s a small studio and perhaps it would have been too much of an undertaking to give each character a full-scale model but I just think who got a model should have been prioritized better. After all, if the game’s entire story centers around you, I feel like I should get to meet you at least once in person.
Even the hotel staff is mostly introduced as voices behind closed doors or through the notes they leave lying around. Sophie tends to narrate things about them as well, but you never actually get to see them. Which is interesting given that it’s a full-scale functioning hotel. Like where is everyone!?
My other gripe centers around the game’s ending. Part of it came from the fact that I realized I would never get to meet some of the central characters in the story, but the other part involved how quickly it came about and how little control I had over it.
I literally uncovered all of these people’s secrets and didn’t really get to share any of my findings or even greet them. It was certainly frustrating but I’ll be fair and won’t ding the game too hard for this because the creators are an indie studio and I assume this was a resource issue. They still did a great job bringing the characters to life despite their actual…lack of life.
Overall, This Bed We Made’s story was fun to play through and had enough variability to warrant multiple playthroughs.
This Bed We Made’s gameplay centers mostly around being a maid. You are in charge of cleaning the rooms on the fifth floor. This includes making the beds, cleaning the toilets, picking up trash, and shifting through the guests’ belongings to determine whether they are important or not.
I actually really liked the gameplay and found it uniquely fitting given the setting. The game does a good job of letting you know if you’re on the right track through the feedback of the hotel’s governess Linda. It is also later revealed that the ending is also affected by how well you complete your duties in each room.
Of course, this is also a mystery game, so you don’t only get by through cleaning the rooms. Sophie is an infamous snoop, the habit that got her in trouble in the first place, and this is put to use in each location.
The in-game puzzles are mostly easy but have a great range. There are things to decipher, uncover, and match up. You are also helped with several of these by your chosen ally (you can choose between Beth and Andrew, who works at the front desk.)
Aside from puzzles you also have dialogue choices for most of Sophie’s interactions. These determine how smoothly you proceed through the story and even offer an opportunity to develop a romance with your chosen ally.
Aside from puzzles and cleaning, This Bed We Made features some QOL things like Sophie’s journal. In it you can find a recap of all the clues you’ve found through the game, the backstory for every character, and an overview of where the story currently stands.
I wouldn’t say This Bed We Made’s gameplay breaks any barriers, but it’s fun and has enough to do that you don’t feel it’s in the way as you make your way through the story.
Graphics Needed Cleaning
This part of the review isn’t really all that positive, which is honestly unfortunate but I want to be honest. The character models are kind of soulless and I wasn’t a fan of them. This is an ironic take given that I stated above that one of my biggest gripes was that there wasn’t enough of them. But it’s precisely for this reason that I had hoped the ones that did exist didn’t look so….dead?
Sophie, for example, has very big unblinking eyes and it’s kind of scary to see how little is going on behind them. Some models like Beth’s felt a bit more alive but the lack of mouth movement and the glassy-eyed look made all of the characters look waxy and unreal.
Their lack of vibrancy is even more noticeable when you compare it to the various backgrounds and decorations throughout the game. They really made it feel like you were in a scene out of the 1950s. Again, I’m sure this all came down to resources, but given the fact that the game had like six in-game models tops I think more could have been done here.
The music and sound direction on the other hand were pretty good. Nothing really stuck out to me in particular but there was nothing to dislike about it either. The voice acting was very spot on and high quality given it’s an indie studio. On this, I will praise them.
Overall, I didn’t fully hate how the game looked but I was not thrilled with how little motion and how waxy the character models were. I much preferred the hand-drawn scenes presented during the ending.
A Job Well Done
Honestly, I am extremely glad I picked up this title. As Sophie, I was able to channel my inner snoop and was rewarded with an engaging story starring a myriad of wonderful characters. I do have a few gripes with the lack of character models and how rushed the ending felt but perhaps going back and making different choices will leave me feeling better about the whole thing.
I want to emphasize that I absolutely *do* recommend this title. It has replayability and a unique enough theme that you won’t feel like you’ve played it before. If you’re a fan of the mystery genre this is one you won’t want to miss.
Lastly, I want to give a quick shoutout to Lowbirth Games. They are a studio trying to bring light to issues faced by marginalized groups through their games and that’s a cause I can get behind. They did a fantastic job with This Bed We Made and you can bet on the fact that I will more than happily pick up anything else they put out.
Review copy provided by Lowbirth Games for PS5. Screenshots taken by reviewer. Featured image courtesy of Lowbirth Games.