Skyshine’s Bedlam Preview

Turn-based Gil-upsetting simulator.

I’m probably repeating myself, but I’m not a strategician. Maybe beating video games involves some modicum of strategy, but when it comes to planning out moves in turn-based combat, I’m constantly nervous. Yet when I got to try out Skyshine’s Bedlam, a new strategic, single-player, roguelike RPG for PC, I found myself sucked in and regretting the short amount of time I had to dedicate to the demo at E3.

With stylish Heavy Metal-inspired graphics, propelled by the engine used in The Banner Saga, and a giant map full of possibility, I could see myself maybe playing this game (maybe) when it comes out later this year.

Your goal, as The Mechanic, is to guide a humongous land cruiser, called a Dozer, from Byzantine to the fabled Aztec City, keeping as many people alive and healthy as you go. However, the land you must cross, the titular Bedlam, is wrought with peril and discovery. After selecting my faction and my crew, I set off into Bedlam, looking for adventure, and I mostly found trouble. (That’s how I roll.)

I started by entering land controlled mostly by Marauders, the jerks of this unkempt society. Map navigation boils down to choosing a point on it, traveling to it, and then deciding what nearby areas of interest to visit when you get there. Travel uses fuel and food for your passengers, and hovering over a point on the map reveals how much of those you need to consider. If you haven’t found a resource in a while, it might be best to stay local and search for some. Or perish. With no ability to save your game, once you know you’re fucked, you may as well start over. But that’s part of the charm.

Reaching areas results in exposition text filling the screen, detailing the experience out in Bedlam. If you see Marauders chasing someone, you can offer to help, attack, or ignore the event entirely. There will, of course, be consequences no matter what you choose. Ideally you’ll net resources or new crew members. But sometimes, you’ll have no choice but to do battle, which takes place on a grid-based battlefield.

Your crew, depending on their role, each get two actions per turn, and they can go in any order. Clicking on one of them displays where they can move and where they can attack. For instance, a melee brawler has a close attack range but can cover a lot of distance, but a sniper can barely move and can only shoot at a distance but makes up for it in high-damage totals. Like X-COM, once a crew member falls in battle, they are dead for good, so try to be sure about your choices.

I didn’t get to experience all of Skyshine’s Bedlam’s offerings, such as using the Dozer’s weapon in battle or other circumstances. However, it appears to be rich with unique experiences for each play through. And don’t worry about that whole not being able to save deal because the game is geared towards single-sitting play sessions. How much time that takes is unclear, though knowing me, it’ll be days with how long it takes me to make a choice in these kinds of games. Maybe you’re better at this whole gaming thing.