Kickstarter Shout-out: Bedlam

 photo bedlam01.jpg With the popularity of the Wasteland 2 and Divinity: Original Sin Kickstarter, we are seeing a lot of isometric RPGs that are inspired by the classics of the 90s, like the original Fallout. Two other great examples of these kinds of games having success on Kickstarter are Obsidian’s Pillars of Eternity and Studio MONO’s InSomnia. Since this genre is becoming more popular among indie developers, you will have to be pretty unique or interesting to stand out. For example, today’s Kickstarter Shout-out is all about the Austin, Texas-based developer Skyshine Games’ Bedlam. While this might look like if Borderlands, Fallout, and the artist from the cult film “Heavy Metal” had a baby, it does have a lot of elements that are unique to the isometric post-apocalyptic RPG. Let’s dive right into Bedlam and see why this game is getting my Kickstarter Shout-out!

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Bedlam puts you in the apocalyptic and barren world of, well, Bedlam. You are known as “The Mechanic” and you have been recently awakened from a cryogenic slumber inside a large vehicle known as a Dozer. It will be up to you to command your team, traverse the hellish landscape, fight off fiendish hoards, and as in every good RPG, get big bags of loot to keep your team and Dozer going. Like a lot of games in this genre, the overall story might not be the most interesting, so this means that they will probably rely on meeting a diverse and interesting cast of characters. I know this seems like it’s a no-brainer, but there are a lot of grand scale RPGs that use this design philosophy such as Dragon’s Dogma that didn’t have an interesting overall story plus a bland cast of characters. Sure, in the end, gameplay is the most important element since you want the game to be fun, but having a good well-developed universe with personality really makes the entire experience feel connected.

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Bedlam is an isometric turn-based RPG in the same vein as Fallout, Wasteland 2, Divinity: Original Sin, and any of the PC RPGs you played during the 90s. The game will have what seems like a popular element in indie games, rogue-like elements, where the game is designed for single play sessions. One chance, one team, and that is all you get. Each time you play the game will be different, and offer something else than your previous play-through of the game. You will be traveling across the land searching for points of interest that you will have no idea what they will hold. Could it be an encounter with one of the game’s many factions? What if it’s a town to get supplies from? You won’t know. Of course, traveling through unknown territory brings huge risks, but bigger rewards as well. You will also be going through supplies to help upgrade your Dozer, weapons, and keep your team healthy. The game’s twist on the turn-based battle system is using something called the Blitz System. Usually, you have a turn order as to who goes and attacks first, but in Bedlam, you don’t need to worry about who attacks or chooses first in your team. You choose who you want to move or attack. The developers describe it as a hectic chess battlem since each class has their own movement and weapons. You can also use weapons from your Dozer that can cause serious damage. If you have the right tools, you can even unlock new areas using said Dozer attacks. The game seems very complex, with a lot of risk and reward set in place with how you tackle the world around you. I’ve got my concerns about it, but I will get to them when the time is right.

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How about we talk about those nice looking graphics? Bedlam employs the same engine that is used in the Kickstarter success The Banner Saga. It has a beautiful comic-book-inspired art style that reminds me of Borderlands. At first, I thought the designs looked a little simple, but the animation is smooth, and it looks great, from the vomiting monster to an enemy bandit giving one of your team members a quick kick in the nards. The game’s music will be composed by the very talented Kevin Riepl, who has composed music for the Gears of War and Unreal franchise. He has also composed music for the upcoming Toy Soldiers: War Chest. Since this team is made up of people who have worked on Darksiders and Darksiders II, Unreal Tournament, NBA Hang Time, and the popular NFL Blitz, you can tell it is filled with creative and talented people.

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So yeah, the team is quite talented and I have no doubt that they won’t fail to pull off a unique experience. However, do I have any concerns? Well, I always do have my concerns about every game that is released or is getting developed. Since this game is going to be difficult, and only lets you go through one play-through with your team, meaning if all of your teammates die, you don’t get to start back with the same team again. This concerns me because I hope these talented individuals make sure that you can always feel like you are making progress. There are a lot of hard games with random elements where it feels like you are not getting anything done. Again, it might be simple on paper to say, but I would recommend some play testing to see how difficult, but satisfying the game will be.

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Overall, this was a fun Kickstarter to find on the website. I know the isometric RPG is not new among indie developers nowadays, but I am always interested to see what they can do with the genre. So far, the game has a funding goal of $130K and is currently at over $60K. If you love isometric RPGs from the 90s, or are a fan of Divinity: Original Sin, Wasteland 2, or any other upcoming isometric RPG that was funded by Kickstarter, then I think you should totally check out Bedlam. Congrats Skyshine Games and Bedlam, you guys got my official Kickstarter Shout-out!

(If you want to support this Kickstarter, go to this link!)