Bedlam, a new post-apocalyptic role-playing game funded through Kickstarter has been launched as of the 25th. It is being developed by a newly formed studio called Skyshine Games. The three leading minds behind it are a mix of veterans from different backgrounds all culminating in a representation that is quite frankly, stunning. John Mueller comes from a 20 year background of illustrating and writing. He is the creator of the graphic novel OINK through Dark Horse Comics, as well as having spent the last 5 years as the Studio Art Director at Vigil Games. In a left-of-field sort of way, game developer Jeff Johnson joins the team with a background in pinball design on Judge Dredd and the Flintstones. John graduated from that to create video arcade games, with most notable ones being NBA Showtime and NFL Blitz. The last head of the team, Sam Gage has been involved in game design way back from the days of the Gameboy colour to his most recent work on the Darksiders series as Lead Visual Effects Artist.
Bedlam seems to have taken inspiration from games like Faster than Light, as well as XCOM and Shadowrun Returns. Bedlam’s story is set in a world where mankind’s technological progress has been hindered by consumerism, greed and war. The world has been ravaged and this time period has been coined The Barren Age. Numerous years after the Barren Age mankind has managed to rebuild and flourish within a sprawling metropolis called Byzantine. Byzantine is not without it’s faults though. It’s rife with issues of over crowding, class warfare and also organized crime. A scientist named Rasputin Lazarus has dedicated his entire career to extending the human lifespan through scientific enhancements like cybernetics. The city is a safe haven from the outside dangers of the barren wasteland baring the name Bedlam. Rasputin Lazarus while exploring Bedlam, discovered a large vehicle with a man inside kept in suspended animation. Reviving him through various methods he was able to talk to him. The man referring to himself as the Mechanic enlists Rasputin’s help to repair the vehicle, known as the Dozer. The Mechanic relays information about a far off utopian society by the name of Aztec City and they put together a band of rag tag misfits to find the lost settlement.
In Bedlam you play as the Mechanic. The last of a once thriving guild of explorers, he is described as the ultimate multi-tasker. With his abilities he can manage and control all aspects of the Dozer. He looks after resources, personnel, passengers, navigation, upgrades and repairs as well as identifying and eliminating a number of external threats within the wastes of Bedlam. Your crew can consist of various types of professionals. Weapon scientists, engineers, close combat, taxi drivers, heavy weapons and pursuit specialists are the throngs of which your Dozer’s crew are made up of. They each have different skills and as the Mechanic, it seems your job is micro managing them all.
Combat doesn’t seem to be fleshed out a whole lot presentation-wise, however the Bedlam website states it involves “turn based combat, featuring the unique Blitz battle system. During battle there is apparently no turn order with initiative of combatants among your crew members, allowing you to select anyone on the battle board to move and/or attack each round. The combat is described as being like carnage-filled chess, with different classes (melee, shotgun, pistol and rifle) that each have a specific movement distance and optimal damage range. The enemies seem to range from various other crews to soldiers, to even mutants of the wasteland. You can upgrade the Dozer with weapons and augmentations that will assist the crew during a fight. There is a catch to Bedlam though. There are no game saves, you are given only one crew with no extra members and only one Dozer. You have one chance to make it through to the Aztec City. The game is randomly generated each time so it appears to have a lot of replayability, as well as claiming that new encounters and discoveries will occur every playthrough. Every territory in Bedlam is controlled by a random Faction (Marauder, Mutant, A.I. or Cyborg), and whatever lies at each territory’s individual points of interest will remain unknown until you arrive! A Point of Interest can be one of many things: a Boomtown, a random event, a strange relic, an NPC interaction or a brutal battle.
Using the same engine as Banner Saga, the graphics seem to be entirely two dimensional. This gives the game a rather dark ugly, gritty feel. The style is clearly supposed to be unpleasant to look at, further emphasizing the disrepair the planet is in. The art is very heavily detailed and it’s clear that John Mueller’s background in comics is the driving force for the artistic style of Bedlam. It gives it a very dark foreboding feel. Several of the characters depictions I had to close because I found them off putting to great effect.
The Kickstarter for Bedlam, at the time of writing this has raised only $43,896 of it’s initial goal of $130,000. With 27 days to go however I’m fairly confident that It will reach it’s goal by the closing date of October 26. As a limited time offer they the were giving the 15 dollar pledge for only 10 dollars as an early bird special. What this entitled you to as a backer was a digital edition of Bedlam on steam for both PC and Mac. This offer has now since expired however and it looks like the pledges are being snapped up quick. Bedlam has various pledges that run the gamut from $1 for a wallpaper and Skyshine’s thanks to early access of Bedlam as well as the chance to get yourself into the game as a crew member. The final pledge of Bedlam of which there’s only one is worth $10,000 dollars. This final tier gives you everything in the previous tiers as well as a large framed canvas painting by John Mueller depicting yourself as the Mechanic as well as special mentions in the games credits. It’s some pretty crazy stuff but Bedlam definitely looks like a promising title with a lot to offer. I would advise readers to at the very least check out Bedlam’s website and judge for themselves, if they aren’t comfortable making a pledge just yet. Bedlam is aiming to be completed by late summer of 2015.