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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