The Bunker in real life

As part of the Charming and Open event, I asked writer Ian to tell us about the place from a video game he’d most like to visit. There are so many great settings in games that our itinerary is likely to become pretty full, and it would be a good idea to sort out your travel insurance.

I recently had the opportunity to visit a location that stars in a video game and it was a pretty surreal experience. Full motion video (FMV) adventure-horror The Bunker was developed by Splendy Games and Wales Interactive, and published by Green Man Gaming last year. John is the last remaining survivor in a nuclear bunker and it’s only his daily routine that keeps him sane; but when an alarm goes off, his mind starts to self-destruct. It’s up to the player to guide him through long-forgotten areas in order to unlock his repressed memories and uncover the secrets of this dark place he calls home.

The Bunker was filmed entirely at the Kelvedon Hatch Secret Nuclear Bunker in Essex over a period of 15 days. This place was built in 1952-1953 and maintained during the cold war as a potential regional government headquarters. In the event of a nuclear strike, the hundreds of military and civilian personnel housed there would be tasked to organise the survival of the population and continue government operations. It has been open to the public since being decommissioned in 1992 and the ‘Secret Nuclear Bunker’ signs dotted around the area now make its location a bit of a giveaway.

Kelvedon Hatch isn’t too far away from me and my stepson has a huge interest in anything historic or related to war (he’s at that age) so we took a trip there and I played The Bunker the following evening. It was such a weird experience, seeing somewhere we’d stood only yesterday appear on-screen – particularly when parts of the plot feature a hooded villain with an axe! The layout shown in the game itself isn’t strictly true and we weren’t allowed access to some areas, but we visited many of the rooms shown in the game. The atmosphere in real life is just as heavy as the feeling you get when playing The Bunker: dark, and full of memories and ghosts.

I purchased a permit to take the photographs below and you can compare them with my playthrough video above. As for the game itself, it’s one I’d recommend if you’re into atmospheric adventures or FMV; but I’d suggest either waiting for a sale due to its short completion time and lack of challenge, or until you’re able to visit Kelvedon Hatch yourself to get the most out of it. Well done to the developers though for making one of the most engrossing live-action video games I’ve played.

If only visiting all game locations was that easy. Right now I could do with heading to the beaches of Banoi… well, before the zombie outbreak anyway.

Kelvedon Hatch Secret Nuclear Bunker photo gallery

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13 thoughts on “The Bunker in real life

  1. I really, really wanted to hire the secret nuclear bunker for a friend’s stay-do so that we could all play Defcon in an actual bunker (sadly the dates never quite worked out). Looks excellent! I’ll have to visit it at some point.

    I love visiting game locations in real life. A few years ago I was lucky enough to be in the US for a conference and tagged a trip to Washington DC on the end mainly because of how much I’d played fallout 3… Similarly the Underground tours in Seattle were the inspiration for one of the Left4Dead2 levels, so I kept expecting a hoard of zombies to run out of the shadows!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I read somewhere that they do a zombie survival experience at the bunker. I don’t like the sound of that at all… it’s freaky enough there as it is without a mass of undead chasing you through the corridors!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’m absolutely terrible at horror games: I’d much rather watch someone else play while I cower behind a cushion on the sofa. Could be a good forfeit for the next GameBlast marathon though… hmm…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Now I have a reason to go to the UK! A friend of mine went back in the early 2000’s and met Aphex Twin on a riverboat party put on by Squarepusher, and I for awhile I was never going to go there because how could I top that? But I am seriously crazy for underground bunkers. I mean, I’ve only gone to one, but it was great fun. My great uncle would take me to it when I was a kid. It was built in the early 1900’s but was never really put to use. It’s now all overgrown, dark and dank and such. My wife and I actually visited it about 2 weeks ago (I haven’t been there in years) and I realized how formative this place was on my aesthetics and imagination. I remember feeling like it was an ancient ruins of a war that happened thousands of years ago. It’s a trippy place! Now I’m thinking of making a post about it.. hmm… but I can’t get my darn photos onto my computer because Iphones hate Windows. and vice versa.


        • I’ve just seen your post – thank you so much for the mention! Fort Worden looks a bit prettier (and a lot warmer!) than Kelvedon Hatch.

          And doesn’t everyone hate Windows? šŸ˜‰

          Liked by 1 person

          • Oh it was freezing that day because of the wind! It only appeared warm. I should have left it as warm though, probably would have sold it better šŸ˜‰ My solution to the windows/apple issue was just to use the wordpress app to upload through my phone. Google wins!


  2. Pingback: Fort Worden: Probably Why I love Exploration Games So Much – Wakalapi

  3. Being there looks like it was an amazing experience! Thanks for sharing. I haven’t heard of the game, but I might have to go give it a try after seeing what you had to say about it and seeing the pictures you posted. Games inspired by real places are awesome.


    • The Bunker is definitely worth a go but I’d suggest waiting for the Steam summer sale before picking it up: the story is great but it’s pretty short. I’m kind of gutted that I didn’t get a shot of the place shown in the final scene despite walking past it when we were at Kelvedon Hatch!

      Liked by 1 person

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