Welcome to Skyshine’s Bedlam Redux, where death is almost certain, your only hope for safety is anyone you can find able to wield a weapon, and your end goal of a safe haven may not actually exist.
Set in the post-apocalypse, your job in Bedlam is to drive a colossal machine called a Dozer from the walled city of Bysantine to the mythical Aztec City. The only thing between points A and B is a wasteland filled with various factions that all want you dead, and an extremely angry warlord.
Thankfully, you’re not totally defenceless on your long crawl through the wastes. Accompanying you and your civilian passengers are a crew of fighters dedicated to your cause. Are they competent? Maybe. Will they be enough? Possibly. Will they all survive the journey? Almost certainly not, so try not to get too attached to any of them.
The journey through the wastes will call on your skills in resource management, navigation, turn-based combat, party-building and gear upgrades, combining them all into a package that’s as delightfully weird as its premise.
Combat here is turn based, with you bringing in a hand-picked squad of four fighters against the various enemies. You have to play smart to win in Bedlam, and sometimes the smartest move may be to sacrifice one of your own to make a winning play.
Between the pressure to win each battle, and the intense desire to actually survive the next obstacle, Bedlam can sometimes feel like an exercise in patience. That being said, it does reward you for soldiering on.
Progress through the game’s two modes will unlock new Dozers, which in turn start off with different weaponry for you to aim at particularly tough foes. On top of that, each Dozer has a special Elite unit associated with it that you can choose to have in your party when starting a fresh run.
No two journeys through the wastelands, whether they end in success or failure, will ever be the same for players. Different crews, different encounters, different foes and different battles. And many, many deaths, whether they be individual fighters or the whole crew.
Where it shines is in not feeling like its pushing you too far.
I’ve never felt it was impossible to win with the right amount of tactics and risk taking. All the information a player needs to judge the situation is given to them. You know how much damage you can do to an enemy, an you know how much they can do in return. You know the exact explosive radius of an enemy grenade or the small nuclear device you can launch off your Dozer.
You have what you need to make a plan.
Of course, there are some issues that can ruin the experience.
For example, not all of the mechanics are explained well and can lead to some confusing situations where you’re not quite sure what’s going on.
When all is said and done though, I find myself coming back to this game over and over. Sometimes it frustrates me but sometimes it surprises me in a good way too. I’ve taken dozens of trips out into the wastes, some successful, many more not, but I’d still be happy to embark on another desert road trip with my gang.
Skyshine’s Bedlam Redux is currently available on gog.com.