Monday, January 16, 2012

Bastion Review

Supergiant Games is a small game developer company that made a big impact recently with their flagship game Bastion. Available for PC, Xbox and Google Chrome, Bastion is an action role-player set in a nearly obliterated world. With the main character, The Kid, and a bodiless narrator, the player travels the world piecing together what happened to his home. Throughout the game the The Kid either befriends or fights the remaining people and life forms which survived the event called the Calamity. The storyline is detailed and well scripted with an old western tone set in a wonderful dark fantasy world. The artwork and soundtrack are breath taking and really cement the player within Bastion’s world where hope for the future is fragile, and survival is the main priority.

The world has literally fallen apart around the young hero which is the main character in the game. He wakes to a destroyed world with no clue as to what happened. Due to an interesting gear attached to his back pathways reassemble allowing him to travel and investigate his surroundings. The narration of the story is limited third person, with the narrator telling the tale of the main character’s journey. All the player knows through the narrator is the Calamity hit and the The Kid needs to find the Bastion, the most likely place survivors will go to.

There are several play modes in the game, I chose easy as I wanted to focus more on the story rather than the game play. I was still challenged in easy mode, which is good as I don’t want the game to bore me just because I chose easy. I did notice movement and fighting would be easier if I was using a game controller instead of my keyboard as there are a lot of narrow pathways throughout the game that a controller stick would have more flexibility with rather than keys. Variety and flexibility seem to be the main focus in game play as Bastion offers multitudes of weapons, potions, amulets and upgrades. The player can use two weapons at once allowing for a variety of game play methods. The weapons can be upgraded with a selection of different attributes to choose from. The game mechanics are solid and feel smooth with cool weapon animations in battle.

Fighting is all about knowing when and where to hit as often times The Kid is surrounded by large groups of enemies with very little space to move around. Or The Kid is running through a falling apart platform via Indiana Jones style with numerous enemies and obstacle blocking his path. Some enemies can destroy the flooring, slow The Kid down or knock him off his feet. With so many weapons player preference and ingenuity really shines.  The faster and more efficiently the player can kill enemies and mini bosses the more points and bonus items offered. Each stage is different with small background information that fills out the world and history of Bastion.

The tone of the game and storyline reminds me slightly of the TV show Firefly: both have a gritty Western theme, and both are about surviving against the odds. The narrator quickly becomes a friendly stranger, leading the player down the unreliable depths of Bastion’s world. I really have to give kudos to the writers of the game as the method of narration creates a veil of mystery around each character of the game leaving the player questioning who’s a friend or foe and what is right and wrong. 

The voice actor for the narrator, Logan Cunningham, is flawless considering he is the only contact and basis the player has to connect to characters and Bastion’s world. The narrator gives the characters humanity and thus player empathy as he tells the tale of The Kid and Bastion. The artwork is what I would imagine the flavor of starburst would look like (ok, I just made that up right now). The hand painted 2D artwork is colorful and fantastical with depth and variety to flesh out the setting. Taking screen shots can be an addiction as most of Bastion would make for an awesome wallpaper for your desktop. 

The soundtrack is proof of how much time and effort was put into the game, it is unique and haunting following the game’s post apocalyptic theme with a Western twist. The soundtrack is available for sale for around $9.99 digital download and $14.99 CD on Supergiant’s website.

Bastion creates a dark fairytale world, whose characters egg the player further into the unraveling tale. What could’ve been a simple action role-player game turning into a epic adventure which has won the favor of many if the 70 plus awards the game has received is any indication. Even after the game is finished, there is a lot of replay value as there is new game plus option that carries weapons and experience over into the new game. Priced on Steam for $14.99 the game is well worth the money and one of my top 10 games of 2011.