@julianozuca: Thanks! I was thinking of diving into Bioshock, but first I need to figure out if my new laptop can handle it, and I have to finish Ocarina of Time 3D.
Well, I didn't want to post another review already, but as it turns out I am extremely busy to write the few articles I have in mind because of my graduation project for college, and due to the fact that my project at work is approaching its deadline, which means it has been one of those weeks where a lot of extra hours are spent at the work place. So I decided to post this Bastion review I had already written before things got crazy, and which I was saving for a later time. Enjoy it, and thanks for all those who talked very highly of this game and made me tepted to get it.
Warning! Huge review approaching!
Narrated in a way that is hard to forget, Bastion will always be a game that is easy to remember
Through our long and winding journey on the gaming world, we get to experience more games than we can count, and due to biological quirk in the way our brains have been engineered, the memories we have regarding those experiences will most likely fade away in time and we will hold on to one or two details of the game that will happen to trigger a bunch of memories related to how wonderful that gaming adventure was. In the end, the games that stick on our minds as the most delightful ones are titles that are able to stamp memories in our brains that are unique, therefore causing a powerful sense of awe to emerge when those mementos are brought forth in our minds. Every remarkable piece of software has a signature stamp: the spheric worlds of Super Mario Galaxy, the mesmerizing 3-D dungeons of Ocarina of Time, the discovery of how your weapon works in Portal, just to mention a few. Bastion, as it turns out, is one of those games that is bound to be remembered very dearly by most who give it a shot, not because of its flooring visuals, not because of its great gameplay, but because of how the developers chose to tell their story.
"Now here is a kid whose world got all twisted, leaving him stranded on a rock in the sky", players will hear from a deep rough distant voice as they glimpse Bastion's world for the first time. At this point, it is likely most people will sit back and ready themselves for some narrated storytelling, but after a few seconds of silence players will grow impatient and try to move the kid. To their surprise, the kid will get up, and deep rough voice will come back narrating the kid's action with detail. As you walk out of your stranded rock, the world will start building itself as you go in a fantastic real-time arranging of blocks and objects that will form beautiful scenarios as you go, and as you move down the hallway the narrator will keep talking and describing not only the kid's actions, but his thoughts, his past, his present and what is going on in the world around him.
Bastion could be one of those immersive lonely games that put a sole warrior against all perils of the world, but instead, it chooses to be a game whose main character will always be accompanied by an omnipresent voice. Most games will put breaks on gameplay to explain the story to players, but in Bastion the story is laid out as the gameplay moves forward. You will be battling hordes of enemies while listening to important reveals, location details and your character's thoughts, it is possibly the first time ever in the history of gaming where players will feel as if they have been transported into a third-person fable. The narrator is an integral part of the Bastion experience, and it adds layers and layers of dense atmosphere to an already impressive game, as not only will it make sure to point out how mighty the kid is as a warrior, but it will also foretell tense gameplay moments by dropping quotes like "He then notices he is being watched" or "Little did he know what was waiting for him ahead", it is a feature that, therefore, goes beyond its storytelling purpose, but it also leaks into the gameplay.
Limiting the game's praise to its most amazing feature would be unfair to the game, though. As you will come to learn, the world of Bastion has been destroyed by an event called the Calamity, and as it had been agreed, in case of emergency, all people should run towards the city's Bastion. However, upon arriving in the vicinity, the kid only finds an old man who tells him the Bastion must be rebuilt, and to do so the kid must travel to different locations in the world – that have been ripped out of the earth and tossed into the sky as floating islands – in order to acquire powerful cores whose power will rebuild the Bastion and unlock its mysterious power. As you would expect, initially the story leaves a lot of questions unanswered, but as time goes by and your journey progresses, narration will make sure to enlighten you on what exactly happened that brought forth so much doom upon the world.
With the excuse for adventure set up, it is time to step outside and see what Bastion is all about, and players will find a nice blend of RPG elements with a hack and slash gameplay presented in an isometric view. The game has a considerably large arsenal that grows as the kid reaches new locations, and all weapons are either melee tools or long-range guns, since the game allows players to choose two weapons and a special skill before going out into the wild, it is possible to always set out with a balanced character, something that is absolutely vital since the game's enemies are unforgiving and have different sorts of attacks that are best handled with one specific kind of weapon. Character customization, is not limited to two weapons you can take to a new location, though. As your level rises, you open up new spots in your inventory where magic potions can be placed that will give the kid certain abilities, such as increasing his critical hit ratio, giving him a few extra chances to continue the game after dying, avoiding strikes that would have killed him, and so on, for a game that is ten hours long, this amount of possibilities is unexpected but very welcome. As if that wasn't enough, earning money and finding unique materials will allow the kid to use the Bastion's forge to upgrade the many weapons in him arsenal. Bastion puts many bigger and more ambitious RPGs to shame when it comes to inventory customization.
The game's levels are absolutely mesmerizing on their visuals; everything seems to have been hand-painted by a very talented artist. There are only a few games out there who are able to rival Bastion on the art direction department. Watching the world of Bastion move is like witnessing delicate tridimensional character models wandering around and waging battles on a flat painting, this contrast between 3-D and 2-D is a sight to behold when players are not to busy slashing hordes of dangerous enemies coming from every side and launching different attacks. By offering a more strategic variation of the hack and slash gameplay, Bastion could have fallen victim to lack of variety in the way its levels are designed, but the developers were smart enough to add a few unique characteristics that make the levels stand out on their own, even though your central activity in all of them is pretty much the same: beating down enemies and avoiding death at all cost, because dying will invariably mean going back to the beginning of the level and having to come up with a more careful strategy as to how to get to your goal and back home while minimizing the damage your character takes.
The game's core issue will only make itself present to gamers who do not have a joystick. Bastion's control configuration for mouse and keyboard users is very flexible, but as well as you might set it up, chances are a few problems will come up. The main shortcoming here is that the character will only attack towards the side where the mouse pointer is, meaning that two hands will not be enough to move the character with the arrows, aim with the mouse pointer and attack with the keyboard button of choice. It is a problem that cannot be solved, simply because it is not something players can get used to, but it is something that must be dealt with with a certain cost, which in this case is taking damage on the interval between properly aiming and being able to launch your attack. Needless to say, it is a situation that can cause a certain amount of frustration because nobody wants to go back to the beginning of the level when they feel it was not their fault, but the control's.
As a downloadable game, Bastion's length is quite respectful, clocking in at about six hours for those who rush through the adventure. Besides, the game is very successful in inviting players for another round of enemy obliteration with their previous XP and equipment upgrades intact. Not only does the game feature multiple endings, collectible objects that add depth to the story when acquired, and situations where the narration will change according to your actions, it also allows players to tweak with its difficulty by going into the Bastion's sanctuary and selecting options, such as making enemies attack faster. If that doesn't feel like quite enough, there are also specific challenges for each weapon acquired that demand players to kill all enemies within an arena in a certain amount of time, testing the skills of experienced gamers in exchange for nice prizes. With all of that, it is easy to see that Bastion could become a fifteen-hour game in the hands of dedicated fans. It is hard to find a title that gives this much value to players' money.
At this point in time, it is impossible to point out Bastion's place in history, other than saying it is one of the best downloadable games to ever reach any gaming system available out there. But one thing is for sure, its gameplay, vast array of options, artistic visuals that blow minds away will be forever remembered by those who go through it when they recall the game's amazing mean of storytelling, and the main feature that makes it stand out from ever single game ever released, its brilliant narration that puts players in the very center of a story and gives all elements of the world of Bastion unforgettable depth and value.
@Foolz3h: Wow, now that is a surprise. I don't see how anyone could not like it! :P @mitu123: It is amazing. You should give it a try. @JustPlainLucas: Awesome! I got it after seeing many friends of mine here putting it on their best games of 2011 lists. I couldn't resist the temptation! @xdude85: Yes, it flew a little bit under the radar. @waZelda: Wait! You can use the mouse buttons to attack!? I messed around with the configuration a little bit and I didn't get that option, I feel stupid now because that would have made things much easier! I will fix that on the review after I give that setting a go.
"meaning that two hands will not be enough to move the character with the arrows, aim with the mouse pointer and attack with the keyboard button of choice" I disagree with you there. Your weapons are on the left and right mouse button, so you use them with your right hand. Your left hand has your thumb on space to roll, your index finger on shift to lock on and the other three on WAD. Healing is E so it is right next to WASD. In conclusion I had no problem playing it with two hands on the computer.
Sounds interesting, I've heard a lot of great things about Bastion. Apparently it's one of those incredible games that not many people played.
Great review for a great game. I was one of the few who didn't actually like the narration, though. It was repetative, and often inaccurate in regards to what I was doing.