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Skyshine’s Bedlam: rare steak in its gasoline sauce

Skyshine’s Bedlam is a post-apocalyptic game with turn-based tactical fighting and roguelike elements, developed by Skyshine Games. You play the master and commander of a large, very large truck. Leaving the shining and crowded city of Bysantine, you try to reach the mythical Aztec City with crazy settlers as passengers aboard your radioactive behemoth.

So you will cross a wasteland populated by an impressive number of mutants and marauders for whom violence is the best way to express themselves. Along the way you will also find new allies and sympathetic crazies that can help you. You also will identify a Big Bad Guy that stands in your way menacingly.

The writing of the game is lots of fun, very much in the tone of a post-apocalyptic game that does not take itself too seriously. It evokes more Mad Max than The Road. The graphic style is really great, your characters seem to spring from the pages of a comic book. The background for combat terrain is also “hand-drawn”. The three creators of the game have taken the game engine Banner Saga for combat and mutated it to their needs.

Skyshine's Bedlam world map

Incidentally, it should be noted that this game has undergone a major transformation after its release. Originally when in combat you had a total of 2 action points to share amongst all your heroes. This made in my opinion for very tough fights, so much so that I quit the game a couple times because I lost it when my group was wiped out by a grenade I hadn’t enough actions to avoid.

This has completely changed, and now each of your hero has two action points (much like in X-Com for example). This changes the game and has won me over. I appreciate the game’s fast and nervous fighting, the gory killing animations are lots of fun to watch. You can still customize your experience and play with 2 actions for your whole party, or select an arcade mode with Blitzometre that causes enemies to become tougher if you don’t finish them off before.

Outside of combat, you must manage the movements of your Dozer (the large vehicle that serves as your home and mobile base) on a map dotted with key locations and your reserves of fuel and food, trying to save as much as possible of the suicidal settlers you carry to Aztec City. Each location will offer you an interactive text and sometimes a choice. On this topic, and perhaps because I chose to play a game on Easy after my previous experience with the game, the choices were not very interesting. The outcome was inevitable, or I didn’t feel the choices did really put my crew in danger or offer me real alternatives. It would have been nice to have more elaborate multiple-choice events.

Skyshine's Bedlam combat mapThe greatest strengths of the game are its combat sequences combined with its graphic style and excellent music. Four character classes exist: the sniper who is quite powerful damage and range wise but is endangered when an enemy gets too close, the gunslinger that retaliates when attacked, the hand-to-hand fighter and a shotgun wielder that can push back enemies when shooting them. Each unit has a precise attack area, and cannot harm an enemy that is outside of this area. A cover system also exists, and I advise you to use it. The enemies are varied, generally following the pattern of the four classes, but some bosses are quite impressive. There are several factions (cyborgs, rebel AIs, mutants …) and each has a special ability to use in combat.

During fights you can use the Dozer’s special weapons and atomize your enemies, protect your soldiers or infuriate your opponents and motivate them to slash at their allies. Your soldiers can progress with experience, and you’ll encounter Elite enemies that when defeated join your crew. Radioactive He-Man, you’re the spearhead of my team! Also look for the Skyshine developers, they have a cameo appearance in the game.

Why to play Skyshine’s Bedlam: for its inspired post-apocalyptic art style and its quick tactical combat, and if you fancy a nice game that doesn’t keep you glued to your screen for hours but will motivate you over a weekend to get further into the wasteland.

Why not to play Skyshine’s Bedlam: if you fancy a complex story with complex decisions and important dialogues, and if you prefer a dark post-apocalyptic universe to the fun’n’gore of Skyshine’s Bedlam.

Find Skyshine’s Bedlam on Steam.

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Prison Architect DIY prison

It’s like Simcity but with murders.

Have you ever dreamt of building an inescapable prison?
Well from tomorrow (6th October) when Prison Architect is officially released, you can finally try to build the supermax facility of your dreams. Watch out however as the inescapable part is the easier part, the harder one being to keep your prisoners in line and keeping up with the inflow and release of inmates.

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Braveland: a take-away strategy game

Braveland is a turn-based strategy game developed by Tortuga Team. You play as a brave farmer who attends the looting of his village and decides to take justice into his own hands by donning the armor of his father. Yes, another hero born atop the smoking ruins of a village!

Unfortunately for him (or fortunately, looking at his bellicose inheritance), a thief hides another, and he finds himself facing more powerful opponents. Their ambitious goals go well beyond the ransacking of an isolated village, smirk smirk!

Braveland character

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Image by gaciu000 @ http://gaciu000.deviantart.com

On improvisation in RPGs

Life is busy, we all know it and I’m not the best for reading pages and pages of world background when preparing a roleplaying game. Most of the time I don’t think the painstakingly detailed description of this god or that tribe which existed a couple of centuries ago comes up during my games or has any relevance for the adventure my players are going to undertake.

So the question became: what is the minimum amount of preparation I need to still have my players engaged while building a “coherent” adventure?

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Handling loss – a journey into the Darkest Dungeon

Darkest Dungeon is a game developed by Red Hook that is still in early access (official release will be in October).

It’s a dungeon crawl with a couple of new and interesting mechanics and a great gothic atmosphere.
The heroes are hired by a caretaker that needs you to clean the dungeons around your ancestral home.

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Gods Will Be Watching: managing brutal consequences

Gods Will Be Watching is an hybrid genre game, a mix of point-and-click adventure and resource management game. You play Sergeant Burden, who’s sent into a particularly morally challenging undercover mission, and must manage a series of dramatic situations to maintain galactic peace and ensure his own survival.

I immediately liked the graphic style of the game. It is pixelated, but emotions and situations are well conveyed through clean and simple technique.

The narration is interesting and highlights an intriguing story. At the start of the game we find ourselves around a campfire with Burden and his despairing companions, who seem to have been abandoned on a hostile planet by an organization called “Xenolifer”.

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Ultimate General Gettysburg: channel your inner tactician

Ultimate General: Gettysburg is a strategy game that sets you in command of the Union or Confederate troops during the Battle of Gettysburg from 1st to 3rd July 1863.

This battle is crucial in that it is believed to be the turning point of the Civil War for the Union. Tragically, this is also the battle with the highest number of casualties.

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Iron from Ice: Enter the Game of Thrones

Iron from Ice is the first episode of Telltale’s game based on the Game of Thrones universe created by George RR Martin. The series narrates the story of the Forrester noble House, Stark vassals who guard the precious ironwood, the hardiest wood of Westeros. After the dark events of the Red Wedding, they are threatened by their rivals and must deal with the new ruler of Winterfell, Lord Bolton.

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Crusader Kings II: a strategy game for roleplayers

Crusader Kings II is a strategy game released in 2012. You play as a ruler of medieval Europe that must ensure his dynasty survives the trials and machinations of his rivals during 700 years of history. The game allows you to play a multitude of characters, from a puny count to the powerful Byzantine emperor, and bring your dynasty to the highest glory or the darkest gutter.

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Tye: birth of a PBM and lessons learnt

Tye is our series of computer-assisted play-by-mail games. These are strategy games that oppose a dozen players on a map divided into territories, with weekly turns. By collecting resources, expanding their territory and purchasing buildings, players raise large armies to conquer the surrounding lands. The goal is to conquer a location at the center of the map or to control of a defined number of cities. To date, 3 games in the Tye series (all completed) and a spin-off called Frontal Assault have been released.

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