Bastion Review Part 2: Final Words

Upon finishing Bastion my worries that the narration would grow stale were unfounded. The game changes things up enough both in gameplay and it's topic of narration that the gravely voice telling the story is always providing more insight into the world. My other worry after playing only a few hours was that the story wouldn't live up to it's potential. Now that I've finished I would say that it could have had a more complex deeper story and benefitted from it, but it didn't need it. The story is simple in execution, easy to follow, but deep enough to stay interesting and make the player feel invested. In the end Bastion did not let me down in any way. One game mechanic I had not yet encountered when I wrote my first impressions is something I'd like to highlight now. At a certain point in the game The Kid can build a Shrine in the bastion. Once built the Shrine allows players to invoke the powers of various gods if they choose. The powers of the gods are all designed to make the game harder, but for each god invoked the player receives bonus experience and shards (money) as they play. This mechanic is something that I wish many more games would use because it allows players to set a custom difficulty for the game, and be rewarded for it. It has become standard in video games for difficulty selections to be made at the beginning of the game and often higher difficulties provide no reward except for the satisfaction of the challenge. Through the Shrine Bastion provides difficulty that can be modified on the fly, it rewards players for choosing to make the game harder, and also changes the game in creative ways. I hope that game designers everywhere take this as inspiration for how to customize difficulty. My final comments about Bastion will be spoiler ridden, so if you have yet to play through Bastion and don't want to know about the ending, consider this a positive review and stop reading now. Within the last bit of the game Bastion provides the player with two binary choices, whether or not to save someone who betrayed The Kid, and whether to end the game by resetting time and preventing The Calamity that started it all or to continue living in the ruined world. The latter choice is interesting to anyone who gets invested in the story, and I'm assuming changes the visuals and narration of the ending. I have only finished the game once so far, and I chose to continue living in the ruined world, holding on to the friendships made by The Kid on his adventure and avoiding the possibility that the Calamity would just happen again. The former of the two choices, whether to let the betraying character live or die was extremely well done. I chose to save the man, and The Kid had to put down his weapon to carry him. As The Kid marched slowly forward holding the unconscious body enemies lined their walls and shot at The Kid. As the player I was forced to use my healing items one after another and just when I ran out, and the game had me convinced that making this choice was going to kill me, the enemies seemed to realize that The Kid had chosen not to fight anymore and that he was trying to leave peacefully with the unconscious man. The enemies stopped firing. One enemy failed to hold his fire and started shooting again but was quickly knocked out by another enemy behind him. It is rare for a game to give me as strong of an emotional reaction as this did, and in this moment Bastion guaranteed it's spot in my personal top games of 2011 list. I recommend Bastion to anyone who can enjoy an action RPG. The graphics, music, story, and narration come together to create an experience that stands above many. I can't wait to see what Supergiant games comes up with next.

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