Thursday, August 18, 2011

Off Topic: Bastion

So over the last few weeks I've played Dead Space 2, FEAR3 and Silent Hill: homecoming. I play horror games, it's my thing.

Regardless of story or game genre, if it's mixed in with more than a bit of horror I'll be all over it. But every now and then a game comes a long that taps into some other side of my brain, a side that remembers all the other elements of gaming that I have come to love over the years. A side that doesn't need to be drenched in blood to have a bloody good time...

Well right now that one game is Bastion.

I had been following Bastions development for sometime now, having seen an article/ interview on it a few months back over at Indiegames blog. I didn't know too much about it back then, but I was won over by the games art style and level design. As more and more info started pouring out, Bastion started looking like something I had to play.

So as soon as it released on Steam, I started bugging my friends to let me use their card to get it. Finally my buddy Kaos sent the game to me as a gift yesterday afternoon while I was at work, and then I counted the hours till I got home to play it.

From the moment I pressed start and made a new game, Bastion had me grinning like crazy. Watching trailers and staring at screenshots is one thing, but playing through this masterpiece yourself is something else.

And the world of Bastion is a gem to play through.

In a nutshell, the story revolves around an event called the Calamity that has destroyed the world you knew, literally tearing it into pieces. So you set out to collect these core fragments that are needed to start rebuilding the world. So on your adventure you get to see the world around you come together and take shape around you. Path ways rise up to meet your feet, trees and buildings form as you approach them, and it all looks amazing.

But what really grabbed me by the throat and makes me not wanna stop playing is the games awesome combat system. It's not the hardest one to pick up, but it's very pleasing. The world of Bastion is littered with things that insist on standing in your way, so you have no choice but to dispatch of these things with your awesome arsenal of weapons.

You know how in some games you find items that you sort of tolerate till you get a cooler weapon, well in Bastion every weapon is cool, and are extremely effective. Yes you end up having your favorite weapons (mines the Machete/ Musket combo) but even as I play I'm already thinking about what weapons I wanna try for my next run through. All your weapons are customizable to very specific degrees.

As an example, I like fighting close range. So as far as upgrades for the Musket goes, I chose things that gave it less of a spread, and a faster reload time with a push back. So when shit gets up close I just blast em with my boom stick! I could have just as easily made it spread out further and loose the damage penalty for range combat, but that's not how I roll yo!

The story of Bastion progresses through these floating land masses that become available for you to explore as you find more and more pieces of the core. Some of these areas also serve as a sort of 'proving ground' for weapons, and play like a mini game where you are given tasks that require a specific weapon to accomplish. Once done, you get graded and different upgrades become available to you based on your score. I for one love this sort of thing, and I spent a little bit of time out of the story to do this for my Musket and Machete. (I also did it for the Berserker bow, cause that's another awesome weapon)

You also get these potions, that you equip rather than drink, and as you level up you can equip more and more of em. There are a wide range of them and they do anything from up your health to make you crit harder when at low health. It's just another fun way to further customize your character depending on your play style.

And to top it all off, your entire adventure is narrated by this guy called Rucks, who does a play by play of everything you do. One of my fave moments was when I wanted to try out this riffle, and then swapped it back for the musket, and the narrator mentioned something about how I prefer to stick to my trusty Musket and Machete :P

I do have one quarrel with the game though, and I'm not sure if there's a way around this.

You can only swap out weapons and special moves from these Arsenal shops that are found every now and then around the world and at the hub from which you set out on your missions. You can't just flick a button and then cycle through your inventory. This is cool though, I don't mind this.

But what I hate is finding a weapon while questing and then automatically switching to this weapon, not being able to switch back until finding an Arsenal shop. This happens when you find a new special move too.

Can i get my Blade flurry special back please?

It's cool that I get to try out these new weapons, but now my weapon that I've spent so much time and money on upgrading is sitting back at the shop >_<

This is my only grip with the game, but I can live with it.

Another cool thing is that whenever you want, you can actually up the difficulty of the game and pull more xp and credits while at it. It's not as simple as selecting 'Hard' over 'Normal', instead you visit these shrines that are in the game, and each shrine, depending on the old god it's built for, offers a different challenge to you.

One might make the enemies more aggressive, another will make em hurt you when they die. So this is a fun way to get a little more life out of the game play.

So yeah... Bastion. A great game that you should definitely check out if you're up for grand little adventure. It's the kind of game that's just really really fun to play. It's not as heavy as some of the other titles that are out there, though it does have it's touching moments (I made my way through the Hanging Gardens with a heavy heart), but it's something you can pick up and have an awesome time with.

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