‘Now The Kid sees somethin’ stranger still; his mind races. Did anyone else survive? Sure enough, he finds another. He finds me.’
As you run along in this world, its being assembled right before you. Bricks fly into place to form your path, showing you where to go. The surroundings are beautiful, but decayed, only a faded picture of what once was. What happened is not exactly clear, but it is the beginning of your story, it is the beginning of Bastion.
Before SuperGiant Games made Transistor, they made Bastion, a top-down action game, where you play as ‘the Kid’, one of the last survivors of ‘the Calamity’. While that all doesn’t sound too unique, Bastion has a few cards up its sleeves to make it one of my absolute favourite 2D games of recent years.
First of is the Narrator: While you play, all the Kids’ actions are narrated by a husky voice. This feature manages to dodge annoyance and is used with a clever twist: Instead of signs to read or actual character dialogue, the narrator tells you what is happening in your surroundings, gives you lore and your current goals. At the same time it feels like somebody is telling you a story, a story that you play as it's told and thus can influence.
The story itself has more depth than you would expect and draws you in with it melancholic mood. This is supported by a soundtrack that ranges from folky-industrial music tracks while being in action to beautifully sung full songs at calmer passages.
Thanks to all that the world of Bastion feels real and complex, even if you don’t get a lot of direct interaction with it as the player. That doesn’t mean that the game play falls short though: The kid finds a variety of weapons for melee and long-range combat throughout his journey that all feel distinguished. If that’s not enough you can upgrade them to cater more to your play style. Do you prefer more damage or a better range? Faster reload or a wider spread? Your configuration can be tested at trial ranges individually for each weapon. The kid itself can learn special attacks as well and use tonics to boost certain attributes. In addition to that you can use totems to tweak enemies and difficulty to earn bigger rewards and add more challenge.
All of this adds up to a great package that makes Bastion a game that’s equally for old school action enthusiasts as well as people who seek great narration and art style.