Nut Load. Mini reviews of games old and new. No fuss. No spoilers. Occasional shock face.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Bastion (2011)

Genre: Action Adventure | Players: 1 | Developer: Supergiant Games

The protagonist known only as "The Kid" wakes up in his bed to find an apocalyptic event called "The Calamity" has shattered the land and only random pieces of landmass float around as he makes his way to the titular Bastion; an emergency evacuation place for the city of Caelondia. Only one other person survived to make it to the Bastion; An old man known only as "the Stranger" who also provides the wonderful, low growl narration. The Bastion can be enhanced by finding Cores; huge crystals that used to power the city. The more cores that are found makes the Bastion larger and more functional. It also allows the Skyway that shoots him to remaining landmasses to send the Kid to farther landmasses. While exploring the wild, the Kid will fight various monsters with a variety of upgradeable weapons and search for cores and survivors while the Stranger narrates about the background of the places visited and sometimes snarks about what the Kid is doing (usually something the player did).

The Kid runs around in an isometric environment with the maps revealing themselves as the player explores in a beautifully rendered, highly colorized artstyle that somewhat contrasts with the downer scenario. The combat follows the old adage of "easy to pick up, difficult to master". It is fairly straightforward, but with nuance and the various weapon combinations add more as players progress. The Bastion can also be upgraded to add a forge for weapon upgrading, a distillery that allows for equip-able potions that offer a variety of passive buffs, and a shrine that adds more challenges when the various gods are invoked. The soundtrack is a wonderful new mix of old time western tunes with some more modern electronic and heavy bass. The controls were at first obtuse and janky on the PC since aiming with the mouse made a weird disconnect with attacks especially with melee weapons were The Kid would attack where the  cursor was instead of the direction he is facing which feels unnatural and is probably different with a joystick. Having gotten used to it though it still worked pretty good and eventually I couldn't put it down. With the great story, wonderful fresh genre soundtrack, and a fair amount of replayabilty with different weapons, modes and New Game Plus makes this one an easy recommendation.

Buyer's Guide:
Available on Steam, Xbox Live Arcade, iOS, OnLive and as a browser game for Google Chrome.

Level-starting Faceplants out of 5

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