Skyshine's Bedlam

Game review by
Jeff Haynes, Common Sense Media
Skyshine's Bedlam Game Poster Image
Postapocalptic strategy is violent, punishingly difficult.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Trying to reach utopia, save people overshadowed by rampant killing of enemies.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Gamers play a driver who leads crew into wasteland. Goals are noble in trying to save his kind, but violent methods reduce positive impact.

Ease of Play

Extremely challenging strategy with limited space for error requires planning multiple steps in advance; random elements can make, break playthrough, which boosts frustration.

Violence

Players use pistols, shotguns, rifles, special abilities, vehicle weapons to destroy wide number of enemies. Foes scream, melt, burn, disintegrate when killed. Cartoonish visuals limit impact.

Sex

Implied pleasure den in text, but nothing shown, seen.

Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

One moment of taking psychedelic drugs during random mission; not guaranteed to always experience this mission.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Skyshine's Bedlam is a downloadable strategy role-playing game in a postapocalyptic setting. Players use a wide variety of firearms, as well as special abilities and vehicle weapons to destroy marauding enemies. Though many of these attacks will cause enemies to scream, melt, burn, or die in other gruesome ways, the cartoonish nature of the visuals limits the effect of the violence. Thanks to the procedural nature of the game, there's no guarantee you'll even run into the same missions twice. So, though there's one side mission that starts at a brothel, you don't see or hear anything, and though it culminates in taking psychedelic drugs, there's no way of knowing if you'll run into that mission on a playthrough. One thing to note is that this game is extremely challenging and will test even the most seasoned strategy RPG player, thanks to its limited turn system and high degree of difficulty, which will frustrate many gamers.

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What's it about?

SKYSHINE'S BEDLAM is a strategy game set in a postapocalyptic world of mutants, cyborgs, rogue AI, and marauding bandits. Players take on the role of the Mechanic, driver of a massive rolling fortress known as a Dozer in the futuristic city of Bysantine, which is one of the last bastions of civilization. A rumored utopia known as Aztec City is found, and your Dozer attempts to brave the wasteland known as Bedlam to reach this promised land. Along the way, you'll experience random events that ensure no two games will play out the same, such as running into traders, fending off attacks, and adding to your crew members. You'll also be able to boost your chances of survival by getting your Dozer crew experience to shrug off injuries and improve the operation of the vehicle so it runs more efficiently.

Is it any good?

This incredibly difficult strategy game will put even the most hard-core player's skills to the test. Skyshine's Bedlam is interesting thanks to its random game elements. Even if you take the same path through the wastelands each time, you'll never be guaranteed to run into the same scenario twice. This unpredictability makes each playthrough fresh and exciting. Another great feature of Bedlam is that your crew members aren't simply faceless grunts you send into battle; each character has a unique backstory, which can affect gameplay. For instance, some battles can be avoided completely if you have the right people in your squad, which earns you extra gear or crew members. This makes you much more cautious about whom you deploy into conflict, especially if you think they might be helpful later. It also makes you more connected to your troops when they're lost in battle, and you really feel their demise hit home.

But one of the biggest issues with Bedlam is just how incredibly difficult the game is; even on the easiest setting, players will be very hard-pressed to succeed in their quest to make it to Aztec City. Among random catastrophes, plagues, or mutinies on board the Dozer, virtually anything can wipe out your entire team. It's even harder when it comes to battle -- you only receive two actions for your troops per turn to move or attack enemies. Since your team is frequently outnumbered by two to one, you often have to try to think multiple steps ahead to have a chance to survive. The difficulty spikes further if you encounter a mini-boss that can dish out a ton of damage. These characters can obliterate your squad by themselves, but they usually come with large gangs of troops themselves, making the fight tougher than it needs to be. Though you do have the chance to convince these mini-bosses to join your side when battle is over, the odds are significantly stacked against you that your squad will survive unscathed. Needless to say, strategy gamers looking for a steep challenge will definitely find it in Skyshine's Bedlam, but other gamers may find themselves frustrated by the sheer difficulty.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the impact of violence in games such as Skyshine's Bedlam. Is the violence OK because the presentation is cartoonish? Should there have been ways to subdue enemies peacefully in battle?

  • Talk about the postapocalyptic setting. Why do you think games with this environment are so popular? Would this kind of game work in a different setting?

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