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from A to Z: Bastion (2011)

I didn't know much anything about Bastion before i started playing it and i probably would have never played it if i didn't buy the Humble Bundle. This would have been a crying shame because the game embodies almost everything that i like in a video game not just in individual elements - the gameplay, the storytelling, the graphics, the music - but in how those elements are integrated together to create an immensely rewarding experience with layers of gameplay depth that can satisfy both the hardcore and casual video game player.

From the very beginning, the game establishes its tone - storytelling in the game is driven by an extremely sexy-voice narrator who narrates the story bit by bit *during* gameplay (as opposed to most games which rely upon cut scenes or "textual dialog" between characters). Very quickly you're given your primary method of attack and defense and you're mashing away at the attack button to kill enemies and break boxes and other destroyable scenery.

In both of those things, there's a simultaneous sense of foreground and background that is what makes the game strong throughout its entire run. The narration provides great insight to what drives the Bastion story, but when the player is immersed within a battle or focused on a particular task, the narration can fade to the background of the player's perceptions and not be intrusive. Similarly, the attack and defense system has great depth to it - initially i was a little frustrated and disappointed in the way the battle system worked because it felt like i was just button mashing and hoping that it worked out, but as i started to get accustomed to it, i discovered that i could hone those skills to make my attacks more effective.

As you get further into the game, the depth of the battle system really shines - periodically through the game you're given access to new weapons, and the game eases you into the new weapons brilliantly - you pick up a weapon in the middle of a level and you get to play with it immediately with a "oooh cool, new toy!" attitude. After you're done with the level, a "proving ground" stage is unlocked that is basically a "post tutorial", an area where you can practice how to use that weapon with more skill and precision. The one gripe I have is the common pitfall of most of these games - after a while, you're presented with so many options and have them powered up to such a degree that the regular game becomes easier (and too easy) the further you go along as opposed to more challenging.

I listened to the game's soundtrack before i started playing the game - while initially i didn't think much of it one way or the other (as opposed to the soundtrack to Limbo which i love to pieces despite not really being into the game itself), i now like it pretty well, although i don't love it. It's been defined as being a blend of acoustic and electronic trip hop. That's pretty accurate; for its use in the game it adds a very important aspect to the atmosphere and the mood and for that it shines; as standalone tracks it's got some great ideas, but most of those ideas never develop to a depth level that warrants an active as opposed to passive listening.

It took me playing through the game fairly obsessively two times - once in normal mode and once in New Game Plus mode - before i felt i was really done with the game. It's probably the best video game of any sort that i've played since Braid, though that's not saying much since i don't really play video games anymore.

Comments

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specter_13
Jul. 11th, 2012 09:42 pm (UTC)
This game is one of my all time favorite games, one of the few games that I actually played through twice in a row. I really like the funny comments about weapon combinations.

What did you think of the song at the end of game? I think that is a pretty good song.
lifeofmendel
Jul. 11th, 2012 09:44 pm (UTC)
i like it pretty well, i like the mid-game folk tune that you hear first from Zia better.
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