The kid wakes up... and just rages for awhile
After following this game for quite some time it was finally released as the first Xbox Live Summer of Arcade game for 2011, and what a fantastic start to the promotion. Bastion (Supergiant Games' first title) has a unique art style, a deep fiction, some very entertaining gameplay, all held up by one of my favorite video game narrators ever. The story of Bastion is also very rich and has a lot of backstory if the player is willing to listen to the Voice-Overs and play those side quests, however, this is more of an expected feature of games today. The real selling point for Bastion is the presentation of the material.
You play as "The Kid", from the land Caelondia, who wakes up after a devastating event known as "The Calamity". It becomes immediately apparent that the world surrounding the Kid is broken. He eventually finds himself at the Bastion, the last sanctuary of the world that once was, meeting a stranger who informs him of what has happened and exactly what they need to do.
The gameplay is an isometric "fight your way through these obstacles to find an object that will help you" level design. But the real gem within the gameplay is how the simple weapons are weaved into the backstory and how the levels are given context within the world. Even things like how each enemy relates to one another in the fiction are all recognized and represented. Exploring the world and the thick fiction left to find is the best part of the gameplay. However, the fighting mechanics are definitely worth mentioning. The duck and rolls and finding the best weapon combination to fight some increasingly challenging enemies is a very rewarding experience, and the developers were able to ramp the difficulty enough that is was enjoyable throughout, especially with some user changeable options that make the game harder.
Throughout the story the Kid "Builds the Bastion" using Empowered rocks known as "cores". There are some building that you can build onto the bastion that help the kid along his journey. The most unique building to me was the distillery, which contain passive power-ups represented in alcoholic themed beverages. The drink names get very clever and are also a unique way to give a player some passive power-ups. Just like every level each beverage even has some narration associated with it, which made it that much better.
The narration is my one of my favorite features, accompanied by some fantastic sound design and music. The narrator has an amazing presence that is made to react to how the player plays through the game. An example would be very early on just after the Kid picks up the first weapon in the game. In the surrounding area there are a lot of breakable boxes, if you stop to break a bunch of boxes before continuing on forward the narrators says "kid just rages for awhile" which is just one of those gifts to players that explore more of the game than necessary. I just simply love the fact that things like that are included in the game.
The music in the game... is just perfect. After playing through the game i went online and looked for a soundtrack, to my disappointment i found out it doesn't exist (EDIT: They released a soundtrack on their website, instant purchase for myself). The whole soundtrack is amazing in tone and creates a great mood for the game as a whole, there are also some vocal songs that are very very great and even fall into the story. Another great little feature is a gramophone that plays the games music at the Bastion.
The art style is straight up beautiful, a large spectrum of color and some clever use of saturation and desaturation depending on the tone and feel of the game at that particular moment. The story places "The Kid"on floating platforms, which has some great depth to the ground. Be prepared to fall off quite a few times over the course of the game, but it is not the end of the world after the kid falls off as he just falls back onto the map with some lost health. Regardless, the buildings, the environments, everything is fantastically made and paint a beautiful picture for a fantastical story.
Overall this game encompassed me in every way. A compelling story, a beautiful refreshing environment, some wonderful tone, empowered by some top class narration. I loved every minute of it and is worth playing through at least twice... At least.