Bastion

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Bastion Box Art

Genre: Action Role-Playing
Published: 2011
Platform: Xbox 360
Developer: Supergiant Games
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Time Played: ~10 hours
Achievements Unlocked: 200/200

In Bastion you play as Sebastian, a kid who awakes after the world has been ravaged by an apocalypse refered to as The Calamity, which left the land crumbled and infested with creatures. It falls on him to try to rebuild the world.

This is a game that strikes gold on all levels. I feel like a lot of the games I’ve played lately have one or two things really going for them and everything else is acceptable enough not to ruin the good points, but the developers for Bastion really seemed to spend time on everything to do with the game.

The first thing I noticed when I fired it up on my Xbox was the music. I started playing this a few months after release, so I had heard about the soundtrack for the game before I even picked it up. The track In Case of Trouble plays during the title screen, and it’s great. It starts off with rhythmic guitar strumming and builds up to include a heavy beat with backing violins. The whole album, which I downloaded for $10, is awesome, and you can stream all the songs from their site. It’s amazing how much of an effect the soundtrack of a film can have on the viewer’s experience, literally making or breaking it for them, so it’s certainly nice to see video games starting to embrace music as a key piece of the story-telling.

The art in this game is beautiful. The characters are done anime-style and everything is bright and hand-painted, as you can see in the trailer:

That voice you hear in the trailer is the narrator. I guess if anything, that’s what the gimmick of the game is, although it comes across as anything but gimmicky. He provides real-time, third-person narration based on your actions during the game, as if he’s telling your story as you live it. For example, if you spend a bunch of time smashing boxes at the beginning of the game he’ll say something like “The Kid rages for a while”. It sounds like that would be annoying, but they don’t overdo it or repeat themselves at all, so it always feels fresh. It’s also a cool way to tell the story without breaking up the action at all with bloated cut scenes.

Usually when a game is heavy on the atmosphere the gameplay can suffer a bit, but that’s not the case with Bastion. It’s an action-roleplaying game, but much heavier on the action. You can upgrade weapons and equip spirits that will give you bonuses, but during each level the action is fast-paced and interesting. The weapons act very differently from each other, each one providing a varied experience that allows you to switch up your play-style.

This is an awesome little game, and you should probably be playing it right now.

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