Hands-On: Bastion

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Posted by Jeff (3671 posts) -

At this point, you may have seen the screenshots and trailer for Bastion. But it's hard to get a sense for what the game actually is through any of those methods. Some of the comments we've been seeing in our past coverage compare it directly to the Diablo series. Sure, makes sense. After all, the game is billed as an "action-RPG," it's set at an isometric angle, and, well, those guitar chords that open the trailer certainly send a pretty specific message.

Others compare the game's art style and colorful presentation to games from Vanillaware, like Odin Sphere or Muramasa: The Demon Blade. Some came away from the trailer sensing that some world-building would be involved, like some kind of new-fangled ActRaiser. A couple of you thought the narrator in the trailer might be Ron Perlman doing his Fallout narrator voice. None of these are quite right, but initial impressions, at least, place Bastion in some pretty good company.

We were able to play a brief piece of of Supergiant's new project, which is the same version that will be on display at the Penny Arcade Expo this weekend in Seattle. Before we go much further, maybe you should take a look at the first few minutes of this prototype version.
  
  
The way the narration reacts to what you do, as you do it is the first big stand-out thing about Bastion. The way it keeps up with you as you're finding new things almost feels like magic... or play-by-play commentary from a sports game applied to a game where you're swinging a giant hammer at guys made out of gas. These early portions in the video feel pretty chatty, but since you're being introduced to a bunch of new things right at the start, it seems to make sense. Also, the narrator is a great introduction to the tone of Bastion. He's not talking about ghosts and slimes. He's talking about "gas fellas" and "scumbags." You aren't just picking up "rock" or "gem" upgrades. You're finding "somethin' heavy" and "somethin' shiny." Bastion strikes that very deliberate tone right out of the gate, and it leaves you wanting more of that style at the end of the demo. The narrator is why we've decided to run some raw gameplay footage--talking over the whole thing in a Quick Look would sort of defeat the purpose.

The Kid, Bastion's lead character, has more mobility than you might expect from an action-RPG. By default, he's got a roll move that you can use to either escape incoming attacks or roll into objects to bust them up. And once you're armed--you'll quickly find a hammer, a repeater, a bow, and a large shield in the version being shown at PAX--you can cancel out of those rolls directly into an attack. Standing still lets you execute stronger attacks than you can if you're on the move, and well-timed presses of the shield button let you bat projectiles back where they came from, which is a handy way to take down turrets. While you'll start with those few weapons--or, at least you will at the moment, since we're talking about a game that's probably around a year off--the guys at Supergiant told us that you'll encounter a lot of different weapons, many of which make the game's time period hard to nail down. There's nothing especially modern about a hammer or a bow and arrow... but how the heck did a carbine get into this world? You'll be able to swap your weapons out for others at designated areas, and different weapons enable different special attacks. You can also equip different evasive maneuvers, such as one that replaces your roll with a rolling leap.

As you probably noticed in the video, The Kid seems to be heading in the direction of the Bastion, a designated spot for the people of his once-whole city to head for in case of emergency. Once you get there, you'll be able to rebuild it, adding buildings that allow you to swap out or upgrade weapons, or another that lets you enable various beverages that confer specific bonuses, such as the ability to carry more health potions. The early part of the game shown makes it sound like the basic loop would be to go out into an area, collect objects, then bring them back to your base of operations, where you'll attempt to reverse whatever it was that caused your world to get blasted apart into sections of flying rock in the first place. The developers didn't want to elaborate on their plans for the later parts in the game, but as you might expect, it sounds like there's more to it than simple collection. On top of that, there are plans in the works for an asymmetrical co-op feature. I asked, but wasn't getting anywhere when trying to get more details. It sounds like there's a lot more to Bastion still to be revealed.

And the plan is for us to be there to reveal it. We'll have the team from Supergiant Games on our Big Live Live Show: Live on September 9, including Greg Kasavin, who joins Bastion's development team today as Creative Director on the project. We're also planning a regular series that will let you guys ask questions and check in to see what the heck it's like to be a small team chasing your indie game development dreams. I should also state here, up front, before we get going, that due to the way we've decided to create ongoing programming based on Bastion and its developers--one of whom was a close coworker of ours for a lot of years--we're opting to not review Bastion when it's released. I suspect that, by the time it's finished, we'll all be a little too close to it to render an untainted verdict, so it's best to just state that now, so everyone's clear. Cool? We'll have more on September 9, and we hope you enjoy seeing what we've got planned for the months ahead.
#1 Posted by Jeff (3671 posts) -

At this point, you may have seen the screenshots and trailer for Bastion. But it's hard to get a sense for what the game actually is through any of those methods. Some of the comments we've been seeing in our past coverage compare it directly to the Diablo series. Sure, makes sense. After all, the game is billed as an "action-RPG," it's set at an isometric angle, and, well, those guitar chords that open the trailer certainly send a pretty specific message.

Others compare the game's art style and colorful presentation to games from Vanillaware, like Odin Sphere or Muramasa: The Demon Blade. Some came away from the trailer sensing that some world-building would be involved, like some kind of new-fangled ActRaiser. A couple of you thought the narrator in the trailer might be Ron Perlman doing his Fallout narrator voice. None of these are quite right, but initial impressions, at least, place Bastion in some pretty good company.

We were able to play a brief piece of of Supergiant's new project, which is the same version that will be on display at the Penny Arcade Expo this weekend in Seattle. Before we go much further, maybe you should take a look at the first few minutes of this prototype version.
  
  
The way the narration reacts to what you do, as you do it is the first big stand-out thing about Bastion. The way it keeps up with you as you're finding new things almost feels like magic... or play-by-play commentary from a sports game applied to a game where you're swinging a giant hammer at guys made out of gas. These early portions in the video feel pretty chatty, but since you're being introduced to a bunch of new things right at the start, it seems to make sense. Also, the narrator is a great introduction to the tone of Bastion. He's not talking about ghosts and slimes. He's talking about "gas fellas" and "scumbags." You aren't just picking up "rock" or "gem" upgrades. You're finding "somethin' heavy" and "somethin' shiny." Bastion strikes that very deliberate tone right out of the gate, and it leaves you wanting more of that style at the end of the demo. The narrator is why we've decided to run some raw gameplay footage--talking over the whole thing in a Quick Look would sort of defeat the purpose.

The Kid, Bastion's lead character, has more mobility than you might expect from an action-RPG. By default, he's got a roll move that you can use to either escape incoming attacks or roll into objects to bust them up. And once you're armed--you'll quickly find a hammer, a repeater, a bow, and a large shield in the version being shown at PAX--you can cancel out of those rolls directly into an attack. Standing still lets you execute stronger attacks than you can if you're on the move, and well-timed presses of the shield button let you bat projectiles back where they came from, which is a handy way to take down turrets. While you'll start with those few weapons--or, at least you will at the moment, since we're talking about a game that's probably around a year off--the guys at Supergiant told us that you'll encounter a lot of different weapons, many of which make the game's time period hard to nail down. There's nothing especially modern about a hammer or a bow and arrow... but how the heck did a carbine get into this world? You'll be able to swap your weapons out for others at designated areas, and different weapons enable different special attacks. You can also equip different evasive maneuvers, such as one that replaces your roll with a rolling leap.

As you probably noticed in the video, The Kid seems to be heading in the direction of the Bastion, a designated spot for the people of his once-whole city to head for in case of emergency. Once you get there, you'll be able to rebuild it, adding buildings that allow you to swap out or upgrade weapons, or another that lets you enable various beverages that confer specific bonuses, such as the ability to carry more health potions. The early part of the game shown makes it sound like the basic loop would be to go out into an area, collect objects, then bring them back to your base of operations, where you'll attempt to reverse whatever it was that caused your world to get blasted apart into sections of flying rock in the first place. The developers didn't want to elaborate on their plans for the later parts in the game, but as you might expect, it sounds like there's more to it than simple collection. On top of that, there are plans in the works for an asymmetrical co-op feature. I asked, but wasn't getting anywhere when trying to get more details. It sounds like there's a lot more to Bastion still to be revealed.

And the plan is for us to be there to reveal it. We'll have the team from Supergiant Games on our Big Live Live Show: Live on September 9, including Greg Kasavin, who joins Bastion's development team today as Creative Director on the project. We're also planning a regular series that will let you guys ask questions and check in to see what the heck it's like to be a small team chasing your indie game development dreams. I should also state here, up front, before we get going, that due to the way we've decided to create ongoing programming based on Bastion and its developers--one of whom was a close coworker of ours for a lot of years--we're opting to not review Bastion when it's released. I suspect that, by the time it's finished, we'll all be a little too close to it to render an untainted verdict, so it's best to just state that now, so everyone's clear. Cool? We'll have more on September 9, and we hope you enjoy seeing what we've got planned for the months ahead.
#2 Edited by CL60 (16906 posts) -

Cool, this looks interesting.

#3 Posted by notdrew (87 posts) -

ughh...i'm never gonna get this quest done.

#4 Posted by lemon360 (1102 posts) -

Nice.

#5 Posted by Rockdalf (1293 posts) -

Wow, I'm gonna keep my eye on this.  A+ for style.

#6 Posted by what (11 posts) -

I'm getting this awesome legend of mana vibe from the visual style.

#7 Posted by Olivaw (1215 posts) -

Game seems pretty neat, but the visuals just don't gel with the old west-y narrator and the guitar music. I don't even really know what aesthetic they're going for.
 
Don't really know what they were thinkin' there, but whatevs. Still looks good!

#8 Posted by pyide (141 posts) -
@what: and a Children of Mana vibe from the gameplay :(
#9 Posted by MisterMouse (3564 posts) -

"kid finds an alloy that will strengthen his hammer" 
man cannot count the number of times I have heard that one... 
 
And it looks cool, I like how the world pops up under his feet. and great narrator by the way 

#10 Posted by theredace (80 posts) -

The way the world builds up around you is technically cool, but I kind of don't like the way that it seems to destroy the sense of being in a world.  It feels like a world I don't want to explore because it always just looks like I'm floating on a solitary rock somewhere.  I don't know.  Maybe it's just me.

#11 Posted by Death_Unicorn (2838 posts) -

This looks amazing!

#12 Posted by JesseCherry (65 posts) -

I thin it will fill my thirst for adventure, but I wanted that narrator to stop talking. Wore a little thin after a bit

#13 Posted by orshick (175 posts) -

Man, that narration could really push the envelope in video game storytelling. Definitely keeping this one on my radar.

#14 Posted by Kaigan (292 posts) -

Is this going to be a 360 exclusive? 'Cause that would be a bummer.

#15 Posted by CL60 (16906 posts) -
@notdrew said:
" ughh...i'm never gonna get this quest done. "
Mwhahaha.
#16 Posted by frsty13 (85 posts) -

Game looks cool. 
 
What I'm really excited about is the kind of coverage they're gonna get from GB.  Glad to see the indie dev. love here and taking the proper stance with the review (well, the lack thereof).  Professionalism while still making it obvious that you're fans.  This is why I love this site.

#17 Posted by SamuSlave (252 posts) -

At first I just figured the narration on top of prerecorded game play footage was the standard that we've seen a hundred time over, but to know that it's happing in real time, that's neat, the building aspect seem similar to dark cloud which is fantastic and I'm really digging the desert punk vibe.

#18 Edited by mosdl (3259 posts) -
@Kaigan said:

" Is this going to be a 360 exclusive? 'Cause that would be a bummer. "

the wiki says pc, might have been a 360 controller?
 
Game looks interesting, I wonder if Torchlight's ridiculous success contributed to this happening.
#19 Posted by Red12b (9085 posts) -

I am really excited for this feature

well done to every one involved +1 innovation

 

   

Online
#20 Posted by Crunchman (397 posts) -
Very exciting. Congratulations to Mr. Kasavin on the new job, and I can't wait to watch "Building the Bastion"!
#21 Posted by Thordain (959 posts) -

Wait really? Greg kasavin has another job? Does he just have trouble dedicating himself to his work or something? Also Bastion looks super cool

#22 Posted by gla55jAw (2698 posts) -

Seems really cool.

#23 Posted by ajamafalous (12165 posts) -

I'm just excited to see GB getting exclusive content.
 
 
 
Also, congratulations to Greg K.

#24 Posted by MrKlorox (11209 posts) -

This looks really neat. I hope there is a good amount of depth in the building aspect (character or otherwise) and a meaty story. Kasavin's blog leads me to expect the latter in high grade.
 
I was hoping Kasavin would be on one of the PAXcasts. Good deal.

#25 Posted by supermike6 (3645 posts) -

I was wondering how the review would work; I'm glad you guys opted out. That's classy. Pretty excited for this though, it's a cool partnership and hopefully the game ends up being fun!

#26 Posted by Trylks (829 posts) -
@Jeff said:
" The way the narration reacts to what you do, as you do it is the first big stand-out thing about Bastion. The way it keeps up with you as you're finding new things almost feels like magic... or play-by-play commentary from a sports game applied to a game where you're swinging a giant hammer at guys made out of gas. These early portions in the video feel pretty chatty, but since you're being introduced to a bunch of new things right at the start, it seems to make sense. Also, the narrator is a great introduction to the tone of Bastion. He's not talking about ghosts and slimes. He's talking about "gas fellas" and "scumbags." You aren't just picking up "rock" or "gem" upgrades. You're finding "somethin' heavy" and "somethin' shiny." Bastion strikes that very deliberate tone right out of the gate, and it leaves you wanting more of that style at the end of the demo. The narrator is why we've decided to run some raw gameplay footage--talking over the whole thing in a Quick Look would sort of defeat the purpose."
As a non-native English speaker I've to say it is quite hard for me to understand the narrator, I'm used to the videos and podcasts in giantbomb, so I can understand English, that's not the problem, it may be for the tone, the vocabulary or (most probably) a combination of both. Just FYI, since, well, you know, there are some people that have different mother tongues in the world ;)
#27 Posted by Enigma777 (6059 posts) -

Love that narrator!

#28 Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw (6401 posts) -

I wasn't particularly thrilled about the idea of Giant Bomb covering an exclusive so extensively until I read the part regarding the no-review stance.  Massive, massive kudos to you guys for doing this and having both the integrity and the balls to keep making your journalistic stands like this.  I hope the preview coverage will be as fair as it is enthusiastic.

Moderator
#29 Posted by Koobz (407 posts) -

The "ongoing programming" sounds pretty cool.  I like the idea of a ground level dev diary thing.  I'm getting really tired of those over-produced, scripted dev diaries that a lot of companies keep pumping out.  I started watching those because they used to be actual looks at the creative process, not just PR bullshit about how this wacky bunch of talented guys is making a game you should pre-order now.  But I digress.
 
Bastion looks cool.  Hearing from the dev team regularly sounds cool.  Cool cool.

#30 Posted by DrRandle (1206 posts) -

This game is looking awesome, and I'm glad to see Giant Bomb's stance on not reviewing this game. Just totally says "Class act." Very nice, gents.

#31 Posted by Crunchman (397 posts) -

I guess I'm glad that Giant Bomb is making the decision to not to review this game. If not for the sake of maintaining integrity, at least this demonstrates a degree of control. 
Again, I'm excited for this "Building the Bastion" thing. In the absence of a review, we're getting something most of us have never really experienced. I'm not sure if pioneering is the right word, but I feel like this a step toward tearing down some unnecessary walls between consumers and developers.

#32 Posted by Brendan (8168 posts) -

While I respect the Giantbomb's decision to not review this game, I hope I can see some honest judgement as to it's quality around release.  I trust the GB opinion on these things more than other websites; it's why I come here.  I'm sure that the amount of coverage being given to it will give me plenty of opportunity to see whether I'll like it or not.  Pumped!
#33 Posted by cooljammer00 (2055 posts) -

"Bastion is not an ugly, ugly game."

#34 Posted by DawnB (40 posts) -

So neat to see what Greg's going to be working on.  Hate to lose him from 2K, but glad to see him on this!

#35 Posted by Claude (16254 posts) -

Well, it looks like this kid is interested? Maybe a taste one day will quench his thirst. He's left only wanting more in a developers dream.

#36 Posted by Special_K (115 posts) -

It looks swell, I love the art style. The narration is a little talky in this video, but it's definitely unique and amusing.

#37 Posted by TheSolution (34 posts) -

This game looks fantastic.

#38 Posted by GreyWizzard (12 posts) -

That looks insanely awesome.  Love the commentary.

#39 Posted by Scrawnto (2467 posts) -

The narration kind of reminds me of a really awesome DM from a pen & paper game, which is very cool. The game also looks fantastic.

#40 Posted by crusader8463 (14429 posts) -

Gameplay doesn't interest me in the slightest, but I like the art style of the levels and the narrator idea is genius. I would love to have played a game like Dragon Age with something like that. Just hope this comes out for PC. I would hate to have to miss another awesome indie game.

#41 Posted by Cramsy (1177 posts) -

A year off!?  Dammit this game is looking good though

#42 Posted by king0fprussia (147 posts) -

Can I buy the soundtrack now?

#43 Posted by Doctorchimp (4055 posts) -
@Trylks:  
 
You're right because you can't understand it, they should just stop doing what they want to do. 
 
As a matter of fact, not everyone speaks even a little English! Let's not put words in our games guys lets keep it simple!
#44 Posted by LiquidSwords (2738 posts) -

Love the way this game looks, and the narrator aspect is cool touch

#45 Posted by Chris2KLee (2338 posts) -

Man, Kasavin is a mover, man can't stay still!

#46 Posted by Trylks (829 posts) -
@Doctorchimp: That's not what I said. I see you cannot understand even written English, sorry for you.
#47 Posted by FDanee (23 posts) -

 Wow, this looks really  interesting and unique. Couldn't be further from Spec Ops: The Line in terms of scope and concept. I'm looking forward to the feature!

#48 Posted by Doctorchimp (4055 posts) -
@Trylks said:
" @Doctorchimp: That's not what I said. I see you cannot understand even written English, sorry for you. "
The part you posted said that as you picked things up the narrator puts his own spin on the vocabulary. 
 
You then posted a cheeky FYI that not everyone could understand it, like that matters.
#49 Posted by Nomin (983 posts) -

the narrator concept would not get as useful as when it is tongue in cheek funny, otherwise will get terribly annoying. 
 
  
   
#50 Posted by TheVideoHustler (404 posts) -

I want this dude to narrate my life

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