Bertram Fiddle: Episode 1 - A Dreadly Business

Game review by
Neilie Johnson, Common Sense Media
Bertram Fiddle: Episode 1 - A Dreadly Business Game Poster Image
Creative adventure full of puzzles and laughs.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

The hero finds interesting ways to fill his time rather than get a regular job. Not focused on positive messages.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Hero is a good guy but really quirky; rather than setting out specifically to perform good deeds, his main objective is to find adventure. In this episode, he's working to apprehend "Geoff the Murderer," but he's doing it more to prove a point than to see justice done. 

Ease of Play

Simple controls, easy to learn.

Violence

No violence shown, but indicates its aftermath with a cartoony severed head missing eyes, nose, and mouth as the focus of a specific puzzle. 

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters are seen smoking cigarettes, pipes as well as drinking alcohol. A bar shown inside an adventurer's club.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Bertram Fiddle: A Dreadly Business is a creative, quirky downloadable adventure in the vein of Monkey Island or Sam & Max. Though the presentation is cartoony and humorous, the 19th-century setting allows for characters that smoke and drink, and this episode focuses on the exploits of a serial murderer. Violence isn't shown, but the aftermath of a violent act (specifically, a severed head missing its eyes, nose, and mouth) features as part of a puzzle for players.

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What's it about?

BERTRAM FIDDLE EPISODE 1: A DREADLY BUSINESS is about professional "explorator" Bertram Fiddle and his pursuit of a serial killer called "Geoff the Murderer." Along with his Peruvian cyclops sidekick, Gavin, Fiddle sets out to apprehend the dastardly criminal in hopes of finding adventure and avoiding a boring day job. 

Is it any good?

Bertram Fiddle is one of the most entertaining adventure game heroes ever created. Equal parts Sherlock Holmes, Phileas Fogg, and Inspector Clouseau, Fiddle represents an amusing caricature of the classic Victorian gentleman. Like these other characters, he comes equipped with a sidekick -- in this case, a Peruvian cyclops with super strength called Gavin. Unlike them, he also has a wife who gives him a serious ultimatum: Find adventure or get a job. Horrified at the prospect of working, he embarks on the investigation of a murder case, at the center of which is a shadowy figure the newspapers are calling "Geoff the Murderer." He does this hoping to find adventure (Fiddle is utterly clueless, seemingly unable to recognize adventure even in the midst of it), and along the way he also agrees to run errands for a creepy and unpleasant nobleman named Lord Arthwipe. Both the murder case and Lord Arthwipe's needs provide ample opportunities for fun puzzles and absurd dialogue.

Puzzles in A Dreadly Business consist of situational obstacles, solved by using random items and interviewing weirdly wonderful Londoners. The dialog and voice acting both are excellent, and the game's odd vocabulary, silly surnames, and sly literary references often are laugh-out-loud-worthy. The graphics and music hold their own with the puzzle design and writing -- the former being beautiful in a bizarre, colorful, “Yellow Submarine” kind of way, the latter adding to the offbeat tone of the game with playful Victorian-esque melodies featuring accordion and tuba. Bertram Fiddle: Episode 1 – A Dreadly Business is, especially for adventure gamers, one of those games you just can't afford to miss. It's clever, creative, funny, and graphically stunning in a crazy, kaleidoscopic kind of way. And though this first chapter plays out in a quick 90 minutes, the high-density entertainment it provides leaves you excited to experience the next.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about detective work. What are some things the police have to do to catch a criminal? 

  • Discuss the best thing about being a professional "explorator." What would you like about it most? Are there any bad things about it?

  • Think about fictional characters. What's your favorite character from a book, and would you want to meet him or her? 

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