Do you enjoy turn-based strategy/RPG games? Would you like a game where your decisions in games really held a lot of weight in the outcome? And are you excited by the thought of a post apocalyptic Oregon Trail? If you’ve said yes to any of these questions, then indie developer “Skyshine” sure has something epic in store for you!
Enter Skyshine’s BEDLAM, a fast paced turn-based strategy game with a Mad Max art style. The game puts you in the hot seat, as a mysterious mechanic who is revered among the passengers and crew aboard a hefty Dozer called the “Boneshaker.” Well, that’s only if you decide you want to play as the Human race; players will also have the choice to be the Mutants aboard a living creature called “Gargantox,” the punk rock-looking Marauders with their “Combustor” war machine, the Cyborgs with their half-machine/half-organic contraption called “Detrigore,” or the fearsome Rogue A.I. robot race and their “Imperatron” vehicle. Regardless of which faction you choose to play as, your mission will be to escort the Dozer and crew to its distant Utopian destination.
Like chess, the combat sequences can get pretty strategic and there are several different types of units that can only attack in their specified line of sight. There are four different classes of units total and they all play a unique and valuable role in your victory. “Deadeyes,” for example, are like snipers who can only hit enemies at a far range, while “Frontliners” can only attack at melee range. With the turn-based combat system, you’re allowed two actions per turn; moving a unit or attacking both count as an action. Mastering combat will take some time, and if you’re unable to strategically move and place units where they need to be, it will be that much harder. Each race or faction that you choose at the beginning of the game comes with their own advantages and unique abilities, from healing to teleporting anywhere on the battlefield. And as you journey on, you will probably discover that it’s very hard to win battles without recruiting passengers from other factions out there (perhaps a defecting Marauder or a Cyborg in need). You’ll also have the option of traveling to “Points of Interest” that contain a sort of ‘boss fight’ against a much more heavy-hitting opponent… the good thing is, they’ll join your team and PUMP YOU UP if you defeat them in battle, but the bad thing is, they might kill several of your crew while you’re trying to defeat them… but boy do they pay off when you win because that extra muscle is nice!
Combat is only one part of the BEDLAM, however, and you’ll need to have a perfect blend of skill on and off the battlefield. This is where the game almost feels like a souped-up post apocalyptic Oregon Trail because it will be your job to get your Dozer and crew to the final destination. Along the way, you’ll run into thieving Marauders, defensive Rogue A.I., and/or nefarious Mutants. But it’s not all bad; you may find that some of the other factions along the way are kind and will want to join you or aid you in your journey. And quite often your tact with each encounter will determine the outcome. Will you choose to be nice and try to negotiate with outsiders? Or will you attack them right from the start to pillage their reserves? Both good and evil options have an equal chance of ending up with a positive or negative outcome for you. Needless to say, it’s slightly upsetting to try and do the morally right/good thing to only then find that the rogue factions still betray and attack you.
But aside from negotiation and tact, you’ll also need to be watching your supplies. The Dozer runs on Crude (oil) and your passengers feed on Meat every day. Run out of Meat and you will lose your passengers slowly but surely. Run out of Crude and you will fail the game. Through your travels, negotiations, combat sequences, etc, these will be supplies you often want to think about stocking up on. It makes the game more challenging, but in an interesting way that doesn’t deter the fun.
After playing Skyshine’s BEDLAM for the first few hours, I found myself mostly satisfied, with only a few gripes in the end. I do enjoy how the game really makes you feel like your decisions have weight, although it’s sad when your “one wrong move” actually ends up in a complete mission failure and you have to start back from the beginning again. The combat system is fantastic once you get the hang of it; I believe they could’ve done a better job explaining how the combat works by slowly easing you into it. Your second point of travel in the game (literally almost the 2nd move you make in the whole game) is a combat sequence, and there isn’t really any explanation on combat given to you in-game. This means you don’t know that right-clicking, for example, moves your character around the field, and left clicking can select a character but also can attack enemies. Sounds simple, but it would’ve been nice to know from the start, and you’ll find out for yourself eventually (maybe even because you read this article… that one’s for free). The game really does draw you in and makes you want to keep playing because of the depth of what can happen. There are many destinations you can cruise to with your Dozer, presuming you have enough fuel, and the story of each faction is at least mildly interesting. You will also love the art style and the goofy messages during the [very short] load screens. When the load screen isn’t saying something like “Delivering unemotional speech to crew” or “Surprises are not always a good thing,” you will occasionally get pieces of advice for playing the game, in lieu of any organized tutorials or explanations.
The updated version of the game, currently available via Steam, has a section for Tutorials and more right on the starting screen 🙂