I just finished Bastion this morning and might I say, right off the bat, it’s definitely worth whatever they’re charging for it these days. I bought it on the Steam sale a few weeks back and just got around to it recently – totally worth it.
Without ruining anything or giving away spoilers, I just wanted to briefly go over why it’s great:
The world comes up around you, and often has a few side trails that you can follow for extra powerups and such, but in order to coax the pieces to form the path, you have to run towards the emptiness in a sort of leap of faith. It’s an interesting gameplay mechanic because although the path is usually marked in subtle ways using props and decoration, there’s a certain element that draws you into his uncertainty and exploration. It’s engaging.
The narrator is brilliant. His voice makes up 99% of the dialogue in the game – the hero is silent – and somehow manages to talk the entire time without getting annoying. There’s something lulling in his voice and timing that’s really well done. The soundtrack is likewise perfect:
It has that twangy Firefly vibe to it which really works with the sort of lone wanderer cowboy attitude the Kid’s got. Again, the narrator talking over that with his soothing drawl is just so, so perfect.
The gameplay itself is sort of dungeon hack and slash in a way, and the variety of weapons is really well designed: each weapon has a very distinct role and use so you’re constantly playing with combinations (you can carry two at a time) to find the ideal mix for your playing style. In the end I liked the machete, which allows melee swiping and a snipe throwing capacity if you wait + the blunderbuss shotgun thing, which is twitchy and has a wide angle of damage making it perfect for those enemies that only pop up for brief instances. You trade accuracy and power for speed. The pacing for weapon introduction is neat, and they introduce a new weapon up to and including the last level with a mode that allows you to start the game over keeping all your perks. I wouldn’t say it’s really a game made for replay value, but the experience more than makes up for that.
It’s shorter too. I mean, compared to other games coming out these days (cough cough Skyrim). I can’t imagine it took me more than 10 hours, and I spent a lot of time sight seeing and looking in corners for hidden things. I like that, though. I have tons of 50+ hour games that I’ve never finished and therefore feel unresolved. Bastion has an awesome ending and left me deeply satisfied for the journey of it all. Ultimately, at their roots, I think this is what games should strive for. The greatest games that I can think of do this well. Shadow of the Colossus, Limbo, Portal… these are all games with a proper journey regardless of length.
The art and environments are dripping with atmosphere and is complimented by a lot of subtle sound design. I don’t need to say much more, really. I still like entering the shops – the arsenal and the brewery specifically. They just feel inviting, like the roaring fires inside are somehow warm and comforting. There’s just a well design ambiance to the places you go be it jungle or ice palace.
Seriously, just spend the $10 (or less!) and buy it. It’s well worth your investment.