|Dev: Skyshine Games|
|Pub: Versus Evil|
|Release: Fall 2015|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Angelo M. D'Argenio
No one ever asked for a video game that was one part Roguelike, one part Oregon Trail, one part Mad Max, and one part tabletop miniatures game, but Skyshine is giving it to us anyway in Skyshine’s Bedlam. Bedlam was one of the biggest and most pleasant surprises for me at this year’s E3 - not just a new IP, but nearly a new genre of game. It runs off the same engine that The Banner Saga runs on, but it couldn’t be more different. While one tells the story of the mythic end of times in a world loosely based off of Norse and Viking mythology, the other is about highway battles, explosions, mutants, cyborgs, and a whole lot of guns.
The concept of Bedlam is simple in an, “everything is horrible in the future” sort of way. You live in a horribly overcrowded slum of a city in the post-apocalyptic future. For the longest time, everyone just accepted that this was the last bastion of civilization. But recently, a new rumor has started to make its way around the city, a rumor of a veritable paradise on the other side of the expansive desert wasteland only known as Bedlam. You command a group of road warriors traveling in a gigantic building sized truck called a Dozer. Your goal, make it to the fabled Aztec city before your resources dry up, or the Bedlam claims you.
This is where the Oregon Trail and Roguelike elements come into play. Moving around the Bedlam is as easy as choosing a destination and clicking on it. Most destinations have a few resources at them, like food, or fuel, but moving to a destination costs food and fuel as well. The better your Dozer, the less fuel you spend, and the more people on the Dozer, the more food you spend. Of course, more people means more warriors in case you need to go into battle, and also more technicians which do things like upgrade your Dozer, your weapons, your ability to supply food, your special abilities, and more.
Your food and fuel expenditures also change based on what race you choose to play. Playing as humans requires food and fuel in moderate amounts, but you can also play as rogue A.I. who require next to no food and a ton of fuel. Different races also have their own unique abilities and combat units as well.
As you move from location to location, a variety of different events will occur. Some of these events are simple meetings with merchants and travelers. Some are natural disasters like sandstorms and sunflares. Sometimes you’ll be lucky enough to stumble upon an oasis or a couple of rogue travelers that would love to join your band. Usually, however, you will be confronted with marauders who want to raid your Dozer for all of its supplies.
This is where things change over into a sort of miniatures game. Before battle you get to choose six of your most powerful warriors to lead the charge, and equip them with whatever guns and armor that you like. Then, you are taken into a map with a grid on it, which should look familiar to anyone who has ever played The Banner Saga before. After that, it’s time for strategy.
Every turn you and the enemy get two action points. You can use an action point to either move a unit or attack with a unit. In short, starting a turn with an enemy in your attack range means you can deal double damage to it.
The trick is that every class in the game has widely varying attack ranges. The sniper, for example, can only move 3 or 4 squares at a time and can only attack from a massive 6 squares away. Anyone closer than that can’t be attacked. Melee units can move a ton of squares at once but can only attack the square right in front of them. Then you have shotgunners, who can move up to 4 squares and attack at 3 or 4 squares, and Gunslingers, who can move about the same but can attack a little bit further out.
Every class appears to beat another in rock-paper-scissors style. Snipers do the most damage, for example, but also are hardest to maneuver into attack range. Melee units, by definition, need to stand in front of an enemy to attack them, and so you can use this knowledge to your advantage. Just maneuver a sniper such that its attack range is around another unit of your choosing. Then, when the opponent’s melee unit moves in to attack next turn, use both of your action points to shoot it in the head from range, taking it out before it can do any damage.
As you kill your enemies and move on with the game, units will start to obtain veteran status. Veterans have more life and do more damage than simple grunt units, and when equipped with the right weapons, they can easily cut down wave after wave of enemies. Be careful, however, because once a unit dies, it is gone for good. If you put all of your eggs into one basket, equipping one veteran with so much stuff to be a powerhouse, one unlucky shot will leave you with no power, no items, and no chance to survive out in the wastelands.
Oh, and did I mention that there’s no way to save your game, at least not in a way that lets you continue when you die? You can save the game and put it down to pick it up the next day, but if you die you just go back to the title screen. No victory for you. If you do manage to beat the game, however, you get to play a New Game + with all your stats and items intact. Now your goal is to travel back to the overcrowded city of Byzantine, where you started your journey, in order to defeat the corrupt ruler that controls it.
Yes, it’s exactly like Mad Max: Fury Road, and it’s awesome.
Skyshine’s Bedlam is slated to come out for the PC in the Fall of 2015.
Angelo M. D'Argenio
Senior Contributing Writer
Date: August 11, 2015