Kyle E. Miller
E3 2015: Bedlam Hands-On Preview
Yes, this game sounds insane. But why would that be a bad thing?
06.18.15 - 12:08 AM

Skyshine's Bedlam is one of those appealing mashups of genres and flavors you see more and more often on the E3 show floor. Imagine FTL, Borderlands, Mad Max, The Banner Saga, Oregon Trail, and your typical roguelike combined and you have something akin to Bedlam. Your task is to travel from the city of Bysantine to the mythical utopia of Aztec City, taking your immense tank, or Dozer, across a wasteland full of mutants, cyborgs, mauraders, and wandering eccentrics who may be friend, foe, or something else entirely. That wasteland, known as Bedlam, may be your final resting place if the choices you make lead to ruin and despair.

After selecting and customizing your Dozer, you're dropped into the nasty wasteland and given multiple paths to travel to the utopian Aztec City. I don't want to spoil too much, but getting there is only part of the fun. What comes next is yours to discover.

As you travel across Bedlam, you're assaulted with random encounters and points of interest, and anything could happen at These junctures. Some might lead you directly into battle, but most give you choices a la The Banner Saga. Do you investigate some ruins? How do you deal with passenger discontent? Each and every choice makes your journey more or less difficult, and you have to be very careful because there's plenty to manage. Drawn from Oregon Trail and FTL, the management elements include food, fuel, energy, and passengers, which give you additional bonuses.

Stoic actually licensed their battle system for Skyshine's use in Bedlam. Combat plays out pretty similiarly to The Banner Saga, but if you're not familiar, combat plays out in turn-based tactical fashion. The catch is that there's no turn order; you could theoretically control just one unit for an entire battle if you so choose. Victory is all about unit placement, positioning, cover, and careful use of special abilities and unit specialties.

Bedlam's setting is a melange of post apocalyptic flavors: Borderlands' sense of levity, Mad Max's style, and a little bit of Fallout, of course. The art design is immediately attention grabbing, and the sound design has a colorful punch to it. This is the kind of game that draws attention; you find your eyes wandering to it on the show floor. There's a lot more to Bedlam than I revealed here: special NPCs, towns, and additional options in combat. This is a complex RPG roguelike full of permadeath, hair-pulling choices, amusing dialogue, over-the-top death animations, and personality. If you like any of the games that inspired it, check out Bedlam this Fall on Steam Early Access.