I rarely blog about games here, but sometimes, there some games that just deserve a permanent place here for me.
First, a bit of background info. Bastion is the first indie game production by Supergiant Studios and released for the Xbox and PC. It’s pretty much Diablo-style action RPG game where you control the main character, The Kid, as he finds his world destroyed one day and sets to search for other survivors and find out what really happened.
Bastion’s trademark feature is the dynamic narrative, done by Logan Cunningham (what a manly voice he has!), at first to guide you in to playing the game, but later on as the main vehicle the story is told. Instead of having to go back to town and talk to people in order to know the story, Bastion uses the narration to do it, slowly revealing what has truly transpired in the broken world The Kid wakes up to, leaving you able to concentrate on the action without long stops.
Indeed, thanks to that, Bastion can be finished very fast, but you never get to feel that pace slackening as the story unfolds AS you play, truly and literally, with the only reason to stop at the “town” for resupply, upgrades, new powers and moving on to the next levels. Bastion’s narrative is extremely well done and it almost feels like a proper, professional production done by a big-name publisher. Actually, scratch that. The Supergiant team beats those damned “big-name publishers” any time, considering what passes for story-telling in games these days.
This is further supplemented by the big and immersive world that Bastion is set in. One really can see that the creative team has truly crafted not just a story, but an entire world, complete with its own history, technology, flora and fauna. It’s amazingly impressive, the level of detail Bastion’s world and how you discover it step-by-step as you fight through the broken world it’s set it. It almost makes me feel sad it all went to ruin. The occasional narration that describes the glory of the original world also really makes me want to see it as well. The extremely beautiful art style, bordering on scenery porn, also helps too.
Behind it all though, the beautiful facade you glimpse through the broken world hides a lot of ugliness as well. Bastion slowly but surely shows the ugliness of the world and how nothing is as it seems. In fact, towards the end, you would be harbouring a feeling of pity of how that beautiful world was built upon a foundation of bad decisions and humanity’s evil side. I’ll not elaborate more here, but Bastion is truly a masterpiece of story-telling. Hell, I would’ve paid a proper game’s price for this game just for the experience through it.
Of course, a good story and storyteller does not solely make a gaming masterpiece. Bastion’s gameplay is extremely simple to learn but hard to master. The control scheme is very tight and responsive (the Mouse scheme at least) and veterans of Diablo will feel very at home here. In fact, Bastion plays better than Diablo really. You also get to effortlessly use two weapons, block and evade easily with the game and it never does get repetitive or “clicky”.
Your fighting style is based on your choice of two out of ten weapons, which makes a lot of different combos possible. The ten include an eclectic mix of melee weapons, bows, guns and some rather more.. exotic types too, so mixing and matching the weapons to try them all out will take a lot time. You also get to upgrade them and go though practice areas to master their usage, which makes even more combos possible. That’s not even throwing in the Special Skills in to the mix yet. Definitely very replayable too.
To round it up, Bastion comes with one of the best game soundtracks I’ve had the fortune to experience. Composed by Darren Korb, Almost every area gets a track that fits it very nicely and really draws you in to the game. Not to mention it also comes with vocal songs too. When the first insert song in the game played, I literally slowed down to enjoy it a little.
Okay, I’ve really went quite a bit with this? Suffice to say, Bastion is a great game and worth way more than the USD 15 it costs. In fact, this is probably going to be the game I’ve enjoyed the most this year… and I haven’t even started on Atelier Totori yet :P.
Bastion’s available on the Xbox 360 (bleh) and on the PC via Steam. There’s a demo available on Steam as well for those who want to try it out before they buy it, but trust me, you’re getting more than your money’s worth back.