Sunday, August 25, 2013

August of Games: Day 25 - Bastion

The final song on the soundtrack, sung by Logan Cunningham, the narrator. Seriously, the entire soundtrack is made of solid gold, even for folks who aren't into game music. My PARENTS listen to this soundtrack. I've featured this soundtrack like three times already on the blog, it's so good.

Developer: Supergiant Games
Genre (Setting): Post-apocalyptic (lush and overgrown, NOT wasteland), Surreal
Genre (Gameplay): Ummm...action? Isometric beat'em/shoot'em action I guess. I think I just made that up.
What is this game: This is the game where you play that kid in that world that suffered the Calamity and you're one of the few people left. You go to the Bastion, the safehouse built in case of disaster, and find it somewhat busted. Guided by your voiceover narrator Rucks who lives there, you go out into the wilderness to fight your way through the beasts of the world to find the missing Cores of the Bastion. As play goes on, you find a couple more people, learn about the Ura and the greater powers of the Bastion.
You walk along platforms that rise up in front of you, armed with many weapons. You walk with one stick, and aim body  and weapons with another.
A hand-painted, very colorful art style with some interesting motifs running through it (such as gears, bull's heads, and crystals), accompanied by a soundtrack by Darren Korb, the genre of which has been dubbed "acoustic frontier trip hop".
What's great about it: Everything. This is an inspiring game. Made by the seven-person team Supergiant Games (Amir Rao and Greg Kasavin wrote narration and directed, Logan Cunningham narrated, Jen Zee did art, Gavin Simon developed gameplay, Andrew Wang helped development, Darren Korb did music), the world-building is just incredible. I'm a huge sucker for lots of lore in games developing the world, but this was exactly the opposite: it threw around words, phrases, and especially names that are never explained and simply add to the evocative feeling that this was a living world and there's so much more to it that we don't get to see. It inspired an as-yet-unfinished art project of mine called Art of the Pantheon, which I should totally return to. The setting is remarkable for being a post-apocalyptic landscape that doesn't look colourless or harsh, instead looking like nature has simply reclaimed everything. And not in a the Last of Us-style depressing way - the vivid colors make it seem like a place of life, rather than the aftermath of death. The character and enemy design is pretty great.
The narrator, usually the sticking point of reviews, is a novel and interesting way to deliver the narrative of the game, which is itself quite good. His voice acting job is incredible, and Rucks' voice has become a beloved component of the game - his voice was even added as an announcer pack in Dota 2. He even sings for a couple soundtrack pieces!
Speaking of the soundtrack, Bastion is easily the king soundtrack for 2011, unbeaten even by the triple-As like Dark Souls and Sonic Generations. Simply unbelievable. I know of at least three features I've already done for it here ont he blog.
Gameplay-wise, my favorite bit is the variety you get. There are quite a few weapons, and since you get two, that's a lot of combinations. My favorite is the War Machete with the Breaker's Bow. Lots of different styles of play in there.
The game has an interesting take on difficulty. You might have caught on from my The World Ends With You day that I'm into weird difficulty adjustments that aren't just modes (it also makes Assassin's Creed's full synchronization system one I like a lot). The Shrine is a place you can open up in the Bastion that lets you turn on Idols, each of which creates a bonus to you, but also makes enemies tougher in some ways, such as being faster, stronger, or exploding on death. Actually, thinking about it, it reminds me of Halo's "Skulls" system, which is something I've always liked, although I'm not good enough to play with either Skulls or Idols.
How do I get it: Steam or Xbox Live Arcade. Oh, and iOS. I don't know prices of anything but Steam, which is $15 and absolutely worth it.

End Recording,

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