4 Hugues Ross Writes a Devlog: Games I Play #6: Bastion
Hugues Ross

9/2/13

Games I Play #6: Bastion

Anyone curious why I keep writing about games that have(mostly) been out for a while? Part of this is that I've been slowly growing my Steam library for a couple of years, but I also just don't usually buy games right when they come out. It's not even much of a conscious decision, it just sorta happens. Anyway, on to the game of the week: Bastion (No pictures this time because I was lazy and distracted today). So, Bastion is a 2d isometric hack&slash-type game that rests firmly in the 'action adventure' supergenre(It's really a bit too big to call a genre at this point). The core gameplay revolves around fighting your way through fantastic monsters and such using an ever-growing variety of weapons. The story is pretty interesting, but the most interesting part is how this story is relayed to you. I'll just put that in.....

The Good:
The game's got a narrator. Not the occasional monologue, a real narrator. As things occur, both in gameplay and story, He comments on it, or sometimes straight-up tells you it. So often, the rule of story is "Show, don't tell." This game beats that rule by both showing and telling, and it does a great job of it! When you talk to an NPC, no dialogue occurs. The narrator just comments or summarizes, giving you a clear idea of what they said. It might seem awkward, but it feels quite natural. This is especially true when you do something rather gamey, like breaking all of the destructible objects in some area, and he actually comments on it and finds some reason why you might have done that in-character! This is some crazy stuff that no other game that I've ever heard of has done. It helps that he never seems to repeat himself. On top of it all, that narrator has the best voice ever. I wish he'd come over to my dorm and read me a bedtime story every night. That would be so great. As for gameplay, it's pretty fun. There's a decent selection of enemies that I've seen so far, and more show up often enough that they never really feel stale. The game also offers tons of character customization, at least mechanically, but it serves it up over time. There's at least enough that it feels like you could make many very different yet still viable builds, something that can often be tricky to balance. Towards the end of the options, you even get the ability buff your enemies for extra challenge and bonuses.

The Bad:
There's not much ground. This might not sound too bad, but in a game with a dodge roll and fall damage... it felt to me like I had to be overly cautious. Ranged weapons are pretty much essential, but aiming felt horrible at first. I couldn't tell if I was aiming at head level, or the ground. It seems like a small difference, but it will screw you up quite a bit. Fortunately, I eventually realized that holding down the guard button makes me lock on to an enemy. Unfortunately, that makes you turn automatically, so locking onto the wrong enemy can prove disastrous to your health. The fact that you can't revisit old areas just to experience them again is a big downer, too. Such are story-centric games, I suppose.

In the end, the narrator alone makes this game fabulous. The fact that everything else is well executed too is just icing on the cake. I'm willing to call this one of gaming's few unique experiences.

You can buy the game here.
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