Skyshine's Bedlam

Thought I’d throw a thread up for this since I picked it up on a whim and it’s pretty great thus far. http://store.steampowered.com/app/367600

Post-apocalyptic tactical RPG using the Banner Saga’s engine and a very similar combat system (Kills being personal XP, so you want to feed kills to characters you want to level) but in an FTL-like framework with randomized events, some resource management, and permadeath for your entire crew. And possibly one of the best parts, similar to FTL an entire game (Win or lose) is supposed to go by relatively quickly. Combat’s also extremely fast and brutal with a lot of one hit kills possible.

Anyone else try it yet? I’m hoping there’s a lot of variety in the events, but I won’t really be able to gauge that until I play a good while.

I’ve never heard of it, would love to hear your impressions once you dig into it.

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First hour and impressions are still good. My team has been whittled down to 2 party members left even after picking up more during the course of the game. The combat’s really appealing to me although surviving battles without losses is pretty difficult. Each team gets 2 actions per turn, spread among all your units however you want. So you could move a unit into position and fire, fire twice with someone already in position, etc etc. The limited actions means you end up in a lot of situations where you’ll be sacrificing someone to take a key target out. It also has the odd wrinkle of specific ranges for weapons. If a unit says it has a range of 3, it can ONLY attack units 3 squares away, so people can run up close and screw up your snipers and gunslingers and it makes positioning even more important. You can use weapons and “Equalizers” (Special abilities) on your big truck which don’t count as an action, but each use burns power cells which are a currency you also use for upgrading the truck and reducing healing downtime/fuel consumption/food consumption.

This early on it still has new-game smell, but assuming I don’t discover something that ruins the combat for me it’s looking really promising.

Edit: Oh, one other thing I noticed while playing I forgot to mention. Similar to FTL and the Infinite Space games, there look to be events that you can only complete if you get the item/knowledge/person required from a previous event. Haven’t hit the combination for anything myself yet, but I’ve had a few events that fizzle out since I didn’t have a whatsit to advance, and I’ve collected a few whatsits that as yet haven’t done anything.

I hated that in Banner Saga too, but it’s less of an issue here. In Banner Saga the campaign and individual fights lasted a lot longer, and characters had perks from leveling up and leveling was a lot more important. Here the game is faster, the individual characters much more disposable (Although losing a ranked up character really sucks, and losing a unique/elite character you picked up while exploring is awful), and the leveling system is a lot simpler. It takes 3 or 4 kills to rank a character up to a “Veteran” which is the first and most important level up stage and gives the most bonuses. You’ll usually get more HP, damage, and sometimes range options by hitting veteran. After that each time a character levels up it looks like they just get a +1 in a stat, usually damage.

So while Banner Saga drove me up the wall with shuffling people around to try to spread the XP, this seems more important to hit veteran and then you can take it easy.

Edit 2: Does appear to be a bit buggy. Finished my first run (Died but did better than I thought I was going to) and no achievements triggered, which is fairly minor. More importantly it sounds like the autosave only properly saves your progress when you move to a new territory on the map, which means if you do encounters and explore points of interest in a territory and quit to take a break, when you come back all the XP and progress you made will vanish unless you moved to a new territory. This gets even worse at the mid/late game where the map is wiped and no longer has distinct territories, because (Apparently, didn’t confirm this part myself but someone else did) if you save and load at that point you get dropped back to the map-wipe point.

It’s not a completely game ruining issue since a campaign/run is so fast (Mine took an hour and a half and I was learning the game and inspecting everything and got to the mid/late point before I died) but it’s definitely annoying.

So is this supposed to be a once-and-done story-driven game like Banner Saga, where you just reload when you die, or will it work like a replayable rogue-a-like along the lines of Convoy, where you see how far you can get, but you might die and have to start over?

-Tom

Definitely rogue-a-like. There’s even a high score board, just barely cracked 1 million on my second run! Very little in the way of story or choices during events, it’s primarily padding for the combat. Even the resource management is mostly geared around the combat, though you also can’t run out of fuel or it’s game over, and can’t run out of passengers (In the first part) or it’s game over. Keeping those in line is relatively easy, the harder part is managing your power cells. Truck upgrades are good but as it turns out you really want a stash of power cells when the endgame comes.

Played a second run now. Did a better job than the first time, but in my efforts to bring more party members to veteran rank I played a bit dangerously and lost a fair number of them. The frontliners (The melee dudes) seemed pretty questionable at first, but they’re starting to grow on me. They do negligible amounts of damage but their huge movement range means they can sometimes run up and kill snipers in a single turn, and characters block LOS. So if you’ve got a deadeye or trencher in a dangerous position you can try to run a frontliner up to block enemy fire. Kinda wish they also worked as a mobile cover spot, but that would probably make them too useful.

Leveling up the unique/elite characters doesn’t seem too terribly important either. They don’t have a quick veteran upgrade, and it seems like they may take more kills to level than the normal characters. And when they do level they get relatively standard stat bonuses. Still seems like getting as many rookies to veteran as possible is the best use of XP.

I did three plays today and I’m feeling a little underwhelmed. There’s some potential there, but I’m not feeling the class balance (or, really, much enjoyment from the combat at all which isn’t a surprise as I felt similarly about Banner Saga). I took on the final boss and found it a time-consuming chore where I had to use one over-powered enhancement (it basically cancels all damage and even heals your squadmates when they’re hit) about ten times to keep him from one-shotting his way through my entire squad. I really like the art direction and the game’s play conceits in theory, but the actual encounters in the wasteland get a bit repetitive quickly, especially if you don’t much care for the combat system.

I may wait and see if it gets some content/balance patches, but it hasn’t made a good Day One impression and there are plenty of other games in my collection that need playing.

Yeah, I just encountered that enhancement for the first time and have a similar feeling toward it, not sure how they left it like that. Unlike you I’m really enjoying the combat, but the final boss is completely out of whack. That enhancement seems to be the only reliable way to take him down, because otherwise he can one-shot anything but a veteran frontliner or an elite character and has enough movement that kiting isn’t a feasible strategy. My third run was my best yet, but I was still only able to reach the final boss’ second form (And I know he has a third). Might’ve done better had I noticed that enhancement earlier, only bumbled in to it after I had burnt up most of my power cells. Also can’t remember if it’s something you can get from Tellikan or not.

Rock Paper Shotgun did a pretty good initial review on this one that echoes some of my concerns.

I think the boss fights (I also got creamed by his second form after burning most of my power on form one) are in need of tweaking, yes, but I also feel like the combat doesn’t have enough depth. They took a lot of inspiration from FTL and used the engine from Banner Saga but combat in this game is far less nuanced than either of those games. Units have one ability, period, and the ability tends to be pretty underwhelming (Gunslingers and Trenchers at least do something mechanically with their retribution/push abilities; the snipers/frontliners are defined almost entirely by their speed and how much damage they give/take).

The game’s art is really up my alley and I like what it’s trying to do a lot. The problem is I just don’t feel like there’s much game there.

The first few hours with the game have been fun, but the game only really offers a single tactical puzzle to solve so I don’t imagine this having a lot of staying power.

They just released a 2.0 version of this and it’s currently 50% off… anyone know if it’s worth pulling the trigger?

I’d be inclined to say no. I enjoyed my time initially with it but the more I played the more bummed out I was, until I finally beat it. The 2.0 patch seems to do some good things but possibly most questionable of all is you no longer get any food/fuel/power from combat unless you pick up crates in the combat itself. Unless they majorly overhauled the chances for resource-giving events that would really put a damper on the game for me. Since you have 2 actions per turn and the amount of damage dealt in an attack is so high you rarely can spend actions/turns picking up resources unless you’re willing to lose units.

I dunno, I saw the 2.0 patch and played a couple minutes of it until I saw that, then I bailed. It’s possible I quit on it too early and they did rebalance the game such where that’s more viable, but I just couldn’t be assed.

Skyshine sent out this update to Kickstarter backers on June 9:

Hello All

We’ve been working on Skyshine’s Bedlam for a long while now. We have gone from making adjustments to almost a complete overhaul with the recent roll out of REDUX!.

This was our first indie game and due to several reasons our launch was rocky, but we persevered, learning from our mistakes and focusing on trying to make the game more enjoyable for the masses, in an effort to bring more gamers in. This led us to focus less on content and more on mechanics. We put out Skyshine’s Bedlam 2.0 within a few months but were still met with some rather harsh criticisms. Once again, we listened to our fans and continued to work on the next iteration of changes and updates. This time we thought adding some new content in addition to the changes, updates, and fixes would help the game. This lead to us launching REDUX! earlier this year. We’re proud of REDUX! and eager to get more players to adventure in our wasteland. Those of you that have come back, and our new customers as well, are enjoying REDUX in the way we hoped our fans would enjoy the game.

All of these updates to the game, the additional content, new game modes, playable classes, etc. were all things that were above and beyond the original scope and promised work. Due to all this additional work, we have been unable to deliver on some of the Kickstarter assets. Those assets will not be created in the foreseeable future. For that we sincerely apologize.

Thank you all for your support and for coming back to check out REDUX!

–Skyshine

My issue with this update is that they don’t even say which assets will not be created. They do not go into the specifics whatsoever. Now, I am not personally affected by this because I am a low-tier backer, but this still strikes me as poor communication. Developers should really be more careful with all those extra pledge levels and physical goodies that seem peripheral to making the actual game…

Speaking of the actual game, I have to echo what has been said in this thread already. I played the REDUX version (defeating the boss in Aztech City and earning the “Legendary Mechanic” achievement) and wasn’t all that impressed. The writing gets repetitive quickly and the tactical encounters simply don’t have enough meat to them. I adore the art direction and style of this game, but the combat isn’t complex enough. A more nuanced cover system, or more class specific abilities, or a more dynamic environment (destructible terrain and so on), all would have gone a long way in making this game more compelling. Alternatively, a stronger focus on the story like in Banner Saga would have been great, as the setting is certainly cool. As it stands, Bedlam is a great looking but repetitive rogue-like with poor mechanics. Not a good combination, unfortunately! :-(

The pre-Redux gameplay, before they went over to their “me too!” action point system, was a much better game. It’s a shame the developers didn’t have the confidence to stick with their original design. Interestingly enough, it seems like if they had stuck with their original design, they’d have been working on whatever assets they’re not delivering.

-Tom

You can still play with the original rules, though, right? You’re not forced into the new system? This is still a strong contender on my wish list, but only because I thought the original gameplay was still available.

I played the release version a bit and then jumped straight to the first release of Redux. I thought the tactical gameplay was lacking in both. Interestingly enough, they even patched the Redux version a fair bit after the initial release. For instance, Dozer weapons do not exclusively require power cells in the latest version. Before that change, power cells were the most valuable resource by far and you would never, ever, trade them away. It’s probably a good change, but arrived way too late for most owners of the game to notice.

They went back and forth on so many things (e.g. battlefield sizes), but I am not sure it’s done the game any good. Aside from the action point change, the underlying combat mechanics have always stayed the same and I honestly don’t think they are good enough to sustain the game. I also accuse them of over-selling their patches (the HUGE 2.0, the MASSIVE Redux and whatnot) because that only fueled unrealistic expectations.

At the end of the day, there is always X-Com and Massive Chalice and Banner Saga to go to, or even other turn based combat rogue-likes like Renowned Explorers…

I’m streaming this game right now!

It’s been over a year. The developers of Bedlam were very desperate and thirsty, reworking the game multiple times, in an apparent bid to appease whiners on forums. The idea, I guess, was to lure in new players with each new version of the game, abandoning the players who’d enjoyed the previous versions while keeping their money? Nice trick, if it works. It didn’t work. Bedlam was widely viewed as a dog and garnered the only rating more deadly than two stars from Tom Chick: a “Mixed” label on Steam.

But maybe there’s something redeeming about it? Is this game any damn good? Find out with me. I’ll name characters after you, at least.

Ooh, great choice. There were a lot of things to like about this game. I want to watch your stream recording, but I’m not getting any sound:

Is it just me?

-Tom

No sound here either, which is a shame, because you can tell you are trying some strategies and making some commentary. What is the consensus on this now?

While the stream did have sound, YouTube has muted the archive because I used music during the “Stream starting soon!” pre-roll. I’m trying to edit it out. I’ll post a link if it works!