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E3 2015 - Hands On and Preview of Bedlam

Som Pourfarzaneh Posted:
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Som’s Preview

Once in a good long while, a game shows up with such a crazy amalgam of genres that your interest might be piqued before hearing anything else about it.  Bedlam, a new Roguelike tactical-strategy RPG from Skyshine Games, is one of those such titles.  It’s a post-apocalyptic, cyberpunk game with influences from Mad Max, Fallout, Domination Alley, and basically all of the 1980s.  Thematically, it looks a lot like Gamma World, and its gameplay is comprised of a mix between Oregon Trail and chess.

Got all that?

In Skyshine’s new game, you’ve been walled off from a metropolis known as Byzantine City, and are trying to make it through the eponymous region of Bedlam to get to Aztec City.  You’ll move through several different territories owned by randomly-generated factions, and will have to determine your overall plan of action.  Traversing through Bedlam will require you to negotiate strategies for food, passengers, and other items, all of which will cost you resources.

Bedlam will give you different choices of how to proceed, in kind of post-apocalyptic Oregon Trail scenarios.  You’ll be able to utilize different class tactics in combat encounters, including close-quarter shotgun units that can push opponents away from you, snipers, and massive damage dealers.

Bedlam is one of the more quirkily fascinating RPGs that we previewed at E3 last month, and I’m looking forward to seeing where Skyshine takes it.

Terry’s Hands On

Yet another game that caught our eye at this year's E3 was Bedlam, from Skyshine Games. Imagine your favorite parts from 80's post-apocalyptic movies like Mad Max and Damnation Alley, mix in a little X-Com style tactical combat, and flavor it all with an artistic style (intentionally) reminiscent of The Banner Saga, and you've got a good idea of what Bedlam looks like.

The plot is simple: the earth has gone to pieces and it's your job, along with your crew, to deliver a load of passengers safely from the relative safety of Bysantine, a walled city located in, essentially, Canada to the fabled Utopian Aztec City, not surprisingly located in Mexico. Between the two cities is BEDLAM! A huge expanse of earth where literally anything can happen. Huge swathes of land controlled by savages, outlaw nomads, cannibalistic mutants... we got that covered. Areas where the radiation is so bad that everything glows? Yeah, that's in there. Tachyon mists, hallucinogenic squalls, alternate-dimensional bleeds, or ancient necrotech, that's all out there as well.

How do you traverse the deadly lands of Bedlam? In a Dozer, a huge vehicle armed and armored to the teeth, equipped with the best weapons that technology can provide. Manning your Dozer is your crew, each one an individual, with their own skills and experiences, creating a volatile and heady mix of personalities, all dedicated to surviving and delivering the passengers safely. You can include up to six crew members, including up to one Elite trooper or Veteran. These bad-asses often have unique skills that make them invaluable to your team.

In actual game play the game feels like a cross between Oregon Trail and a tactical strategy game. You move your Dozer each turn, choosing a new waypoint from the several presented to you. Each move can result in one of several types of encounter generated randomly each game, for nearly infinite re-playability. One trip might end due to an encounter with King Viscera, the self-styled King of Bedlam, and his maniacal troops, while another might see you struggle to conserve rations and feed all your passengers through radiation storms, or time-altering mists, it's different every time.

Success will see your crew gain experience, evolving into extremely capable warriors. Starting out as one of four classes, Frontliner (melee), Trencher (Shotgun), Gunslinger (Pistol), or Deadeye (Rifle), crew members can accrue enough experience over time to become Elite or Veteran, each with access to battle-changing skills that can turn the tide in your favor at any time.

Bedlam began life as a fairly successful Kickstarter campaign, raising $166,000, and the Kickstarter page still has some really excellent and pertinent information on it. Bedlam releases sometime this Fall, and is available on Steam, so if you are a fan of Rogue-likes, or Oregon Trail-style games, or tactical turn-based battles, like Jagged Alliance, take a look, Bedlam looks like it's got a lot to offer.


Som Pourfarzaneh

Som has been hanging out with the MMORPG.com crew since 2011, and is an Associate Director & Lecturer in Media, Anthropology, and Religious Studies. He’s a former Community Manager for Neverwinter, the free-to-play Dungeons & Dragons MMORPG from Cryptic Studios and Perfect World Entertainment, and is unreasonably good at Maze Craze for the Atari 2600. You can exchange puns and chat (European) football with him on Twitter @sominator.