[font=Times New Roman]Why Bastion is my favorite game of all time.
Synergy is the interaction of multiple elements in a system to produce an effect different from or greater than the sum of their individual effects. Biology embodies synergy, successful companies embody synergy, great video games embody synergy. Bastion embodies synergy. Everything about Bastion is solid but nothing to write home about. However, the combined force of all of its qualities really transcends it into something special.
The combat is entertaining but probably Bastionís weakest link. It uses a pretty standard 3rd person rpg combat system with short range and long range weapons. Bastion makes up for it, however, though in its customization. Throughout the game you will gain access to a wide range of weapons, power ups and special abilities. Choosing your aresenal becomes as rewarding as using it, and it will not be uncommon for your to take a trip or two to one of bastionís arena to try out a new set. The other thing Bastion allows you to customize is the difficulty. Bastion throws away the standard easy, normal, hard trope and gives you access to a much more interesting idol system. These idols gives the enemies you fight a unique buff. Some are straightforward (hit harder, tougher) but others, such as the idol that causes bombs to be droped after the kid downs an enemy, require a total change in strategy. The tougher you make your enemies, the more money and currency you are rewarded with for taking enemies down. Bastion does something other games fail to do, incentivize difficult. By providing a solid challenge on the normal difficulty level but by giving the player the ability to tweak the challenge to she sees fit, Bastion does difficulty right.
But thatís not all Bastion does right. Bastionís most unique quality about it, is the style in which the narrative is told. As you explore the apocalyptic world as the kid, you are fed the story in small chunks by a gruff older gentleman fittingly named Rucks. He not only serves as your only source of knowledge about the ďcalamityĒ but also comments on the kidís load out, enemies, and even performance. The narratorís dialogue is so elegantly done, you never get annoyed by his presence. Instead, you welcome him with open arms when he does decide to bless you with his western wit and charm, and ponder his presence when he seems to have left your side. Supergiant games have gone out of their way to pick a quality voice actor, who is sure to get more work after this breakthrough performance.
The other standout about Bastion is the aesthetic. For an apocalypse it sure is pretty, with greens and yellows replacing the usual browns and grays. Despite its top down nature, Bastion is 2D. When you see the calamity for the first time, however, itís hard to argue that the water-colored backdrop should be replaced with polygons. Bastion takes a number of influences into the art style giving it a feeling of both familiarity and uniqueness. If you take the time to analyze it, you can piece together the standard video game art styles. The ruins of the civilization reveal a mix of western and steampunk settings, while its destruction gives to both apocalyptic and jungle themes. Fortunately, Bastion leans more towards Crysis than it does Fallout when it came to dealing with art direction proceeding the calamity.
Like the environment, the music of bastion is hard to pinpoint exactly, but like the narrator, you sense its western roots. The soundtrack really shines, with songs specifically tailored for the key moments in the game. Long after the credits roll, you will be haunted as you try to sleep by the jangly tunes Bastion provides.
One cannot over stress how crucial the music was in this game. Like the narrative style, Supergiant incorporated the music seamlessly. As you progress in certain stages, songs give the story context, just like Rucks. This allows the player to enjoy the chaotic combat system while being spoon fed yummy exposition. The result is a satisfying ďfullĒ that most other games lack. In other games you are given one story or narrative separately with neither really satisfying your hunger. But Bastion is more thoughtful, handing you a diverse plate, full of veggies, meats and carbohydrates.
Everything takes place as you are playing as the kid. There are no cutscenes throughout the game. All exposition is told to you by either Rucks or your actions. You never are taken from the wheel during crucial moments of the game, the same moments another game would very much like to take out of your control. This gives the game a good sense of flow and makes it feel more than what it really is.
The ending is one of the most emotionally charged moments I have ever experienced playing a video game. I walked away inspired. I wanted to be a part of the intelligent design that made Bastion and I believe that I am sitting here right now blogging because of it.
Bastion isnít a long game but it doesnít waste your time either. In the 4-6 hours you spend playing, you will walk away with a truly memorable experience.