Thursday, 10 May 2012

Bastion: This Game is Glorious

It's been ages since I've done a review of anything but I've finally had a moment to dip into my backlog of books/games and decided to play Bastion.

I reviewed LIMBO many months ago and you might start noticing a trend. I'm generally only going to be reviewing Indie or uncommon games. I don't want to be discussing something like Battlefield, Diablo, or anything else that gets enough attention as it is.

I think this makes me a hipster though.

Nevermind, I only have 2 Xs on this thing. I'm still safe.

Bastion is the story of a boy know only as "The Kid" who wakes up, finds his entire world destroyed, torn up, and spat out by an event known as The Calamity. Guided only by a Stranger's voice he sets off to explore what's left of his world and find a way to start-up a structure called the Bastion. In doing so, hopefully the events of the Calamity can be reversed.

It's a 2D Adventure Role-Playing Game (or ARPG) with an isometric viewpoint. In other words, you control a character and make him do things in a 2D world that's made to look 3D. If you're confused by my description of how the world looks, take a look at the picture below. The world is done in this beautiful hand-drawn style and is a mix of both Steampunk and Fantasy.

But the visual presentation isn't what makes this game so wonderful, it's how everything else is presented.

Everything looks so pretty!

First, the story. A lot of games have trouble weaving a story with gameplay. Some games present massive blocks of texts, others have unskippable cutscenes, or wordy and boring dialogue sessions. All of these interrupt gameplay. Bastion gets around this by simply having the Stranger narrate chunks of the story as you play along.

For example, let's say you enter a new area. As you walk around, the Stranger will give a little bit of information, just a few sentences as you're running around. And then that's it. And he won't say anything else until you've done something worth saying. With this, you get a rich and unique narrative that's not overwhelming or intrusive.

Anything and everything you do can get a line from the Stranger. Doing well in a fight can get him to comment on how you breezed through, whereas nearly dying will prompt him to say how it was a hard fight, but you still did it. And this extends to the weapons you chose, the tasks you complete, the way you die, so on and so forth.

I know this sounds odd. But imagine if you could have Morgan Freeman follow you around for a day and give random commentary on everything you do, where you go, and give justification for why you did that. That is exactly what the narration feels like.

Every word this man says is liquid gold.

But this is also an action game so how does combat fare? Combat is also excellent. You are given a wide variety of upgradable weapons and skills to use so there is a large variety of customization. Nothing is better than the other, it all comes down to personal preference which is good. The enemies encountered are also unique and present their own challenges.

But there will be a point where you feel ridiculously overpowered and the game becomes too easy. Some people are going to like this but others are going to want a challenge. However, instead of a difficulty setting you eventually get access to a Shrine.

In Bastion, praying to the Gods will benefit your enemies, not you. Depending on who you pray to your enemies may gain increased defense, health regeneration, dropping explosives on death and many more. In return, you get an experience bonus which will help you level up faster if you can survive.

Why do the Gods hate us so much?!

Any problems with the game? Some of the challenges I found were very challenging unless certain upgrades were purchases which can be frustrating, but I guess that's what makes it a challenge. Another feature of the game is that the world pieces itself together as you explore it. A path will literally form in from empty space in front of you. This can be disorientating at times, running around, trying to find the trigger to activate the next chunk of world to form.

Other than that, I can't think of any other complaints.

The music is lovely, the art is lovely, the story could be considered cliched but the way it's presented should be applauded, and combat works great. The game is only $15 on Steam for PCs or 1200 Microsoft Points in the Xbox Live Arcade. You're looking at anywhere from 8 to 15 hours of gameplay depending on whether you do the challenges and/or the Story+ mode upon beating the game.

I highly recommend this game, one of the best I've played as of late. Trailer is down below:

And that's the voice of The Stranger in case you were wondering.

And I know this post is a few hours late. Still going to try and stick with my every third day posting schedule. Next post will be on Saturday.

36 comments:

  1. Yeah, this game looks pretty interesting, thanks for sharing!
    Nice post as usual.

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  2. I love this hipster bingo game haha, one thing it does prove is that I'm really not a hipster, I don't qualify for too much!

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  3. Never played that game. Thanks for sharing.

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  4. Never heard of the game but the trailer was good!

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  5. Great review, that would be kind of freaky to have Morgan Freeman follow me around. At least he wouldn't sound as overpowering as James Earl Jones..haha

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  6. the problem is, I have no idea about this game. haha!

    anyway, I can wait another day :)

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  7. sounds like great fun, Damien!

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  8. That actually sounds like a really awesome game. I would love to have Morgan Freeman follow me around and give commentary on my life and what happens. It would make even my dull life sound awesome. The world looks great too, and the praying benefiting your enemies more than you is an interesting twist. I hope this game goes well, so that people are encouraged to make games like this, and deviate away from the norm and lowest common denominator.

    Also YAY I got nothing on the hipster bingo. According to that I am 0% hipster.

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  9. Not much of a PC gamer, unfortunately. Love the drawings, though. They are pretty indeed!

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  10. Well, I loved Limbo and I really want to check this game out too, so I guess I'm a hipster also.

    Though in all fairness I only had one of those BINGO items. That one being a hoodie. And can't we make an exception, being as how I only use my hoodie when I go running at night, and not to show everyone how cool I am?

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  11. I believe I got this one with a Humble Bundle once. Haven't played it yet, but it's still there, waiting for me to hug it and love it.

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  12. Havent ever heard of this one... but sounds pretty cool. I like the look.... and every third day posting is actually a pretty good goal... I might try that?

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  13. Haven't played computer games in ages, the graphics look like a Disney cartoon, back before they just did computers.Praying reminds me of that famous quote from W.C Fields, caught reading a bible before he died, never showing an interest in religion before his friends asked him what he was doing 'looking for a loophole' he replied.

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  14. I love the look of this game! And I would love to have Morgan Freeman follow me around for a while and commentate my life! :D

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  15. If Morgan Freeman followed me around and narrated my life, I think I would die happy.

    That game looks so pretty! I'll have to make one of my gamer friends play it so I can watch (that's how I "play" video games, because I totally suck at all games).

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  16. Only got one on the hipster bingo

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  17. I would totally play that game :)

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  18. I've heard of Bastion before, heard great news about it

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  19. When games almost force you to buy upgrades it really puts me off

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  20. It sounds like a really interesting game!

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  21. I mean, I wouldn't play it but it still sounds fun.

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  22. Hahaha... Hipster Bingo, I only have 2 of those things too.

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  23. Hipster Bingo? That's awesome I've never heard of it! But I'd love to try it!

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  24. Great game
    also, I read half of this post in Morgan Freeman's voice

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  25. Hello! I just came across your wonderful blog and was wondering if we could follow each other on Blogger (via GFC) and Twitter? Take care. :)

    Kristina (pink-sequins@blogspot.com)

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  26. Loved this game. The narration was excellent, the gameplay fun and challenging, and the music... Oh man, the music!

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  27. interesting game, will look into it soon

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  28. Morgan freeman has the voice of an angel. And that hipster bingo is awesome and should be turned into a drinking game at your nearest open mic night or musical festival.

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  29. Morgan Freeman voiced the stranger!!? Or is it someone who just sounds like him? Because I'm all ready to throw money at my screen right now if Morgan Freeman is indeed in this game.

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  30. I had to giggle at the Hipster Bingo :) If you can think of a menu for lunch, I might be able to feed you some easy recipes :)

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  31. Hmm definitly going to try that game

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  32. haha cant deny is i do loved it completely. it was a good time spent!

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  33. I'm not too familiar with this game, but you did make it sound intriguing!! Besides, I love your shout out to that "godly" actor. hahaha

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  34. Hmm... This isn't usually my kind of game, but you make it sound pretty great. I'll have to check it out sometime.

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