Developer: Super Giant Games
by: Jason "OrigamiPanther" Love
The Summer of Arcade has come and gone, but the titles still linger on. Amidst the co-op offerings, there lurked the single player Bastion, an action-RPG that offered a slightly different twist on the usual Diablo formula. Sure, you still hack your way through dungeons killing swathes of enemies along the way, but the point isn’t to find a better piece of loot or even to advance your character. This is a game where the point is to progress and be a part of the story.
The game opens with a smoky voice telling you that all stories should start from the beginning as the game’s protagonist, The Kid, slowly fades into view. From that point on, your whole world becomes one big story; narrated by the voice and determined by you. You slay a foe with ease and you’re complimented with how deftly and efficiently you’ve done so. You find yourself accidently falling off a platform and you become the subject of a joke.
So many games out there do their best to make you feel like you’re part of the story; like you’re there making the choices needed to save the world or damn it. Bastion achieves this by doing something that has been a part of our culture since we could speak: it tells you the story. It tells the story without any fancy CG movies or scrolling walls of text, it just tells it to you. What’s more, Bastion’s version of storytelling actually manages to make you feel like you are making the choices. Rather than pushing you forward into the next area or plot point, Bastion empowers the player to pull the story along at his or her own pace.
As if the story wasn’t enough, Bastion also has an amazing soundtrack that ties in with the whole thing, challenges that let you test your abilities with the game’s nine different weapons, and an interesting perks system for your character in the form of equipping bottles of liquor. The aforementioned weapons come in both short and long-range varieties, and you’re free to mix-and-match any two that you like, sometimes mid-level.
It’s a rather amazing thing to consider that in this day and age of modern video game storytelling where more and more games try to emulate movies, a game which takes a step back, in a way, is really taking a step forward. There’s nothing fancy to Bastion’s method, just a lone narrator reacting to and recounting your actions. Yet in that simplicity, one finds a more interactive and engaging experience than any Metal Gear Solid or Halo.