Bodycam is out on Steam and feels more like a horror game than a competitive shooter

Image for Bodycam is out on Steam and feels more like a horror game than a competitive shooter
(Image credit: Reissad Studio)

A couple years ago, gameplay footage of a creepily realistic-looking bodycam shooter went viral. That game, called Unrecord, isn't out yet, but we now have our first taste of what it feels like to play a shooter from the warped perspective of a GoPro with a new FPS simply called Bodycam, which just released in early access on Steam. In my experience so far, it's more horror than tactics.

Like Unrecord, Bodycam pairs Unreal Engine 5 environments with cameralike movement and distortion effects to create the illusion that we've somehow been sucked into a LiveLeak video. Unrecord is the more convincing-looking of the two, but Bodycam's blown-out video effect is still uncanny in moments. (I do wonder why these soldiers are wearing cameras on their faces, though.)

The biggest difference between the games is that Unrecord is singleplayer and Bodycam is multiplayer, but either way the question is posed: Do we want first-person shooters that look like realistic bodycam footage?

For me, eh, maybe not. I don't play shooters because I want to roleplay as court evidence (although Bodycam actually ends up feeling a little more like a Most Dangerous Game situation than a cop or military sim), and the efforts to make it realistic make it uncomfortable to play. Your arms slowly follow your mouse movements rather than mirroring them, and aiming is super unsteady. The Red Orchestra games are probably as realistic as aiming needs to be, for me.

The bodycam thing is a heck of an effect, though. No other shooter has made me feel uneasy in quite the way Bodycam does. One thing that makes it hard is that, unlike eyeballs, the cameras we're inhabiting have terrible night vision, so other players are often fragments of silhouettes in corners, unseen until their muzzles flash. And the gunfire is loud as hell, another effort to reproduce the effect of real shooting. It all comes together to make something that's stressful as shit.

There's a guy in the corner. (Image credit: Reissad Studio)

It ain't your father's FPS, in other words, and I guess I'm Dad here. I'll go back to bunny hopping in XDefiant, thanks, but I do think Bodycam's novelty could attract a following.

It's definitely an early access game: The first few servers I joined dumped me into a training level where I spawned into a mass of other players that I had to wriggle free from before being shot by the one guy on the server who had a gun. I don't know what the deal with that was. 

Quickplay got me into regular modes, though, and I was a little surprised to play a few uninterrupted matches—by god, a multiplayer game is working at launch. That alone is an achievement for Bodycam's young developers, although many of the first Steam reviews are coming in negative because of troubles getting into matches, or getting people to ready up for them. I'm not sure I've figured out the UI yet myself.

You can tell that Bodycam was made by French teenagers, by the way, because the main menu hammers your eardrums with an aggressively clipped beat and your second weapon slot is bound to "é" by default. It takes some tweaking. And the weird movement takes adjusting to, which the devs know is going to be tough for a lot of players. "You may need some time to adapt!" says a splash screen when you start.

If you don't get along with the awkward movement and hard-to-see enemies, Bodycam's stay on your hard drive might be short, but I do recommend giving it a trial run if you like the tension of games like Tarkov and Hunt: Showdown.

I never saw the player who shot me. (Image credit: Reissad Studio)
Tyler Wilde
Executive Editor

Tyler grew up in Silicon Valley during the '80s and '90s, playing games like Zork and Arkanoid on early PCs. He was later captivated by Myst, SimCity, Civilization, Command & Conquer, all the shooters they call "boomer shooters" now, and PS1 classic Bushido Blade (that's right: he had Bleem!). Tyler joined PC Gamer in 2011, and today he's focused on the site's news coverage. His hobbies include amateur boxing and adding to his 1,200-plus hours in Rocket League.