Sometimes in life, you just wanna blow shit up. Society tends to look down on that in real life but thankfully there's Mirage Technologies 1996 game Bedlam to safely scratch that itch.
This high-paced action-strategy hybrid sure lives up to its name. You control a futuristic mech called a RAT (Remote Assault Tank) which is armed to the teeth with explosives. Your sole goal is to make things go boom, though there are some MacGuffins about culling an infestation of 'biomex'. Either way, destruction is your duty.
At first, you're only given a single mech and a limited amount of cash to buy ammo. Later on in the game, you can cycle between three RATs on the fly if you have earned enough money to afford them. Once you've played the opening training level, the first of 5 areas open up. The levels within are set in an airport where you can manage your first bit of bedlam, though you'll later be demolishing Industrial, Dockland, Urban and City Centre areas. The objectives are simple enough - destroy target(s), then go to the extraction point. Sure, some can be a little more complex than that, but if you're ever in doubt during one of the 25 huge isometric levels, just know that turning arsonist is most likely the answer.
The levels are huge and often maze-like. Getting from A to B usually requires manipulating switches or destroying pods that power electric fences or other barriers. Finding the switches can take quite some time and the levels are not just vast and intricate but filled with hidden areas, red herrings and respawning enemies to get in your way. Thankfully, there's ample time to find them because there is no time limit. Instead, the game provides you with a leaderboard to incentivise you to complete them quickly.
Your RAT is entirely controlled with the mouse. A click of the left button commands the killing machine to move to that spot. Hold it down and he'll chase the cursor like a cat chasing the beam of a a laser pointer. The right mouse button has the not unimportant task of shooting. It's all rather familiar for regular players of action-strategy titles like Syndicate or Crusader: No Remorse. I do feel that being far more frenetic in nature, they are not as precise as you'd want them to be. Bullets are finite and replenishments can be scarce on the play field so when hits are just as much down to luck than skill it can become a problem. I found aiming directly over the creature wields the best result but whether or not they can get caught in cross-fire seems random.
Being a speedy hover-mech, I also found that my RAT will bump into enemies before my reflexes can register they're there - doubly so when the screen is lit up with burning buildings. Thankfully RATs are tough mofos (unlike the in-game Mofos, a biomex that looks like a rampaging Xenomorph but can be taken down quite easily from a distance) so it's rarely life-threatening. In fact, my biggest reason for not completing a stage was that I simply ran out of ammo, particularly in the early levels.
After some time playing Bedlam, my thirst for mayhem was satiated. I actually enjoyed most of it too. It's not as deep or as satisfying as other games in this genre (it came out a few short months before the vastly superior Syndicate Wars), but for a quick blast of kinetic action it's well worth it.
To download the game, follow the link below. This custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber uses DOSBox to bring the game to modern systems. Manual and Inlay Included. Tested on Windows 10.
File Size: 199 Mb. Install Size: 338 Mb. Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ
Bedlam is © Mirage Technologies
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me