I recently received a text message from a close friend saying: ‘Dude! Did you play Bastion? ‘The name rang a bell somewhere, but being very busy at the time, I couldn’t recall what it was. So, the next morning I checked out the trailer and that’s how my curiosity was piqued for this very first game made by Supergiant Games.
The trailer was looking good, showing me a little guy with a huge hammer smashing away at bunches of enemies, all drawn in a detailed, painting-like style. I downloaded the demo and started playing to get a feel of what it would be like to do the smashing myself. I wanted to know why my friend was so enthusiastic about the game, as the trailer did not convince me fully at first. After, oh, let’s say seven minutes, I whipped out my credit card and bought the full game on Steam. I was hooked.
The Chosen One
While you were sleeping, the world went apocalyptic (Ed.: Sound Sleeper :)). Hurricanes and floods wiped out whole tribes of people and almost all of the land on this world. You are ‘The Kid’ and managed to survive this disaster together with a flying island called ‘The Bastion’. The island is not fully realized as it is. It is missing some vital elements to fully function, and floating over the remnants of the world, it is up to you to find these missing components. By carrying a small piece of the Bastion with you, you can make little bits of the world reappear around you making the world come back tile by tile. Oh, and with the reappearing world, the critters that lived there, also reappear making sure you have a hard time on your mission o.O.
Depth of combat
The enemies you encounter vary a lot and all have their very own way of making sure you meet a swift demise. Some attack in groups while others try to pick you off from a distance, not to forget those really big guys that can almost smash you with one blow. To deal with all this mayhem, you have been equipped with an impressive arsenal of weaponry (that you build up during the game) allowing you to pu t an end to their miserable lives. Though whether or not you survive after one of these onslaughts greatly depends on your skill. This game is not a random ‘button-masher’. You have to learn to use your shield in combination with well-times attacks. Every enemy acquires a different approach yet, they often attack together making it vital to decide on the spot, which enemy should be taken out first.
In the heat of battle, it feels great to pull off a special attack (linked to one of your weapons), allowing you to send a whole group of enemies to the afterlife with one sweep. You can carry two weapons at the same time, though you can only link one special attack. If you have a bit of common sense, make sure that one of these two weapons is a ranged weapon.
Every weapon is upgradable and at a every upgrade point you can choose from two options, such as: ‘Critical Hit Chance’ or ‘+50% Damage’. You can change these upgrades at any moment, giving you a tactical advantage, so use them wisely. Then, if you earned enough XP you level up granting you an extra potion slot. You can use various potions to refill your energy bar, run faster, etc, (and you can change this too at any given point)..
While playing this game, you will not only hear the thuds of your swinging hammer, but you will also hear the wonderful music made by Darren Korb. The music can be described as adventurous folk-rock. While visiting his website I couldn’t help but notice that Darren played in several bands and you can hear this band influence in the music. The game’s music is not just some collection of random tunes, it has a band’s energy and dynamics.
And then… there is the story teller, or perhaps the person doing the live commentary (as in a sports show) that works together with the background music to set the mood. Your actions are commented on by a brilliant voice using some crazy remarks when you find stuff or demolish things. Definitely good for a laugh or two :)
The right ingredients
What makes this action-RPG so different? It is ‘spot-on’, makes you keep your wits about you at all times, and you keep being curious about what you’re going to find next, whether that’s a new weapon or the next step in the storyline. It keeps drawing me back due to the wonderful atmosphere due to its combination of graphical style, music, and that audio commentary. The colours make you want to go ‘ooh’ and they turn the game into a comic book style fairy tale with a rough edge. Why not give that demo a try and see how many minutes it takes before you believe it has the right ingredients.