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publisher: Warner Bros. Entertainment
developer: Supergiant Games
|ESRB rating: E10+
release date: Aug 16, 11
|» All About Bastion on ActionTrip|
Before you hurl stones at us for posting a review this late, you should know that we're doing it for those of you who are still on the fence about buying Bastion. The independently developed game is was put together by Supergiant Games, a team partially comprised of former developers from Electronic Arts Los Angeles, which was responsible for the Command & Conquer strategy series. The PC version was released in late summer 2011 and is recognizable for its unique real-time narration. (The Kid mentions my work. Apparently he appreciates it.) Um, I stopped being a kid a long time ago old man, but don't let me cramp your style. Anyway, let's take a dive a bit deeper into the world of Bastion.
You play as the Kid, a badass little guy, who wakes up one day to find his whole world shattered by the Calamity. Who's the Kid and what exactly is the Calamity? You'll find out eventually, just don't expect the answers to be highly original. As is the case with nearly every action game, the story's just an excuse to send you on an ass-kicking journey into the unknown. The difference here is... (my deep, fatherly voice accompanying you at every turn.) That's right (Nice touch. I like it. - Ed. Vader). The narration might seem like a gimmick, and if you wanna be an asshole about it, go ahead and call it that. But you know what? It enriches the experience. It manages to alleviate the monotony and sense of loneliness that one often feels in these kinds of games. Did grinding skeletons in dark sewers ever feel like I drag? Yeah, I thought so.
Quaint. I'd like to live here.
Every once in a while, the world we live in goes black and white.
Rucks, the narrator, has something to say about every little thing that happens. You fall off a ledge once, twice, three times in a row, score a critical shot, apply an upgrade, examine an item or just stop in your tracks for a minute... whatever you do, Rucks is on it like a football commentator. And the cool thing is, he's positive and encouraging, no matter how badly you screw up. I'm not gonna quote him because many of the things he says are seriously amusing and deserve to be heard in-game first. (The reviewer focuses on the positive. That's wise. But he's gonna have to face the bad, eventually.) (Oh leave, him alone, he's doing just fine. - Ed. Vader). Well, Rucks does lay it on rather thick when he talks about the Calamity and its devastating effects. There is a discrepancy between the colorful art style and the grim story, and it might bother some people. It definitely bothered me at first, although the game won me over pretty fast with its fluid gameplay and Rucks' soothing voice and friendly attitude.
As far as the action goes, the situation couldn't be simpler: you have to break or kill everything in sight. To accomplish this, you're given a generous amount of melee and ranged weapons, plus a trusty shield that you can hide behind whenever you want. You can only carry two weapons at a time, but there's also a choice of a third, special attack that uses up Black Tonics (think mana). The toys range from machetes to flamethrowers and worse. (The pen's mightier than the sword.) Yeah, especially when you're the narrator. There's rarely the option to change your loadout in the field, so whenever you're at the Bastion, which acts as your home base, you play a bit of a guessing game as to which weapon would be more appropriate for the next zone. I found this to be more fun than anything else because trying to survive with unusual combinations of weapons was challenging, but doable.
The Bastion is a floating piece of rock in the sky where you return after each mission. Here you build various structures like The Forge, where you can go to upgrade your gear, or The Shrine, where you can choose to worship idols that represent various gods. This serves as an elegant way to increase the game's difficulty, if you so desire. Praying to, for instance the idol representing the goddess Micia, will cause foes to regenerate health, and in return your experience gain will be increased by 5%. You can also activate several of the idols at a time for a more serious challenge, but I recommend leaving the heroics for a second playthrough. (The Kid shouldn't let himself be discouraged by the Incompetent Reviewer.)
8.3 Very Good
One of the prettiest games I've ever seen, most of the narration is highly entertaining, but best of all, the gameplay is very addictive;
Let's just say that if it wasn't for the narrator, I wouldn't have cared about the story at all. It's not a good idea to take yourself too seriously when what you have is mostly clichés, so perhaps a more lighthearted approach would've been nice or might be a good direction for a potential sequel.