As the Dozer rumbles towards Aztec City, it brings with it yet another post-apocalyptic RPG with permadeath, roguelike elements and procedural generation. Is Skyshine’s Bedlam yet another cookie cutter indie to throw in the nuclear landfill or is this journey to the Promised Land worth taking?
Story is not the focus of Skyshine’s Bedlam, it prides itself on building a dense world of rogue AIs, atomic duststorms and marauding bandits out of set story moments which occur whenever you reach a new destination. There is a thread bare plot, which has you escaping the overpopulated megacity of Bysantine to reach the rumoured paradise of Aztec City, located on the other side of the giant blasted lands known as Bedlam. Upon escaping the city in your giant armoured RV called the Dozer, King Viscera of Bysantine gives chase to recapture the Dozer and slaughter all those who tried to escape with you. After leaving the gates of Bysantine and picking your first destination, the main plot is completely forgotten about, besides the game warning you that King Viscera’s troops are out looking for you in the wasteland and sending more marauders to put your heads on spikes.
Thus begins your journey across Bedlam and the main feeling that permeates your trek across this land is forgettable. All the constituent parts in Skyshine’s Bedlam are taken from other games and then bolted together like some malformed cyborg, in order to capitalise on the success of said games. Skyshine have clearly taken many nods from FTL, with their map screen, upgrade procedure and way of delivering story being incredibly similar to the spacefaring RPG with roguelike elements where you outrun a massive force of enemy combatants. The combat is somewhere between the Banner Saga (it runs off the same engine), Fallout Tactics and XCOM, with there being a liberal sprinkling of designs from every post-apocalyptic piece of media for the past 30 years. Now, it is perfectly fine to take elements from other games and incorporate them into your own, augmenting certain aspects of previously used mechanics and giving them your own spin. What isn’t good, is when you take the mechanic and either not change it at all or alter it so it is somehow worse.