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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