Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Living in a Post-Calamity World - Bastion

As a Mac gamer, I often kind of write off computer games, hoping there will be a console version unless they're released by some of the few companies that make Mac games. However, on impulse, I took a look at the Mac games on Steam and noticed that Bastion was there.

I knew basically nothing about Basiton, but it was cheap and I had heard it was good, so I decided to try it out.

Two things are really great about the game right off the bat. The music is absolutely beautiful - a kind of fantasy version of kind of western ambience - lots of guitar, some very pretty singing, always pretty chill. The other awesome thing is the narrator. Not only does the guy have a relaxing, smooth cowboy cadence, but his commentary on the game is remarkably reactive. He doesn't just narrate the beginnings and ends of levels or in cutscenes (though he does that too,) but he'll comment on your play - if you pull off good moves, if you fail to block things, if you accidentally fling yourself off the many cliff-faces.

The premise is that you are living in a world that has suffered through "The Calamity," which pretty much broke the entire world. You make your way around a world that builds itself as you walk along paths, with nasty enemies popping up along with the environment.

The controls, at least as default, take a little getting used to. You can play with a mouse, Diablo-style, or walk with the keyboard, both styles making me do things I don't intend to occasionally, like blowing my special moves that are bound to Q. Practice helps, but I do wonder if it would work better with a console controller.

As one of only a few survivors of the Calamity, you attempt to rebuild the world, starting with the Bastion, which serves as a kind of hub. You have weapons that you can upgrade and trade out, as well as liquors that give bonus effects. There are bonus objectives to complete that give you a currency to buy upgrades (the currency is also found in abundance just by playing the normal levels.)

What I find interesting is the way that the story is slowly teased out. You'll find items that you can talk about with the various NPCs (though it's all told in a quasi-3rd person by the Narrator, despite the fact that he's the first person you meet at the Basiton - he seems to be recollecting the plot of the game in the narration.) So far, there are two ethnic groups and some accusations surrounding the scientific principles that brought about the Calamity. I'm really not sure whether I should trust the narrator, as the game builds a lot of mystery into its relatively simple gameplay.

But I honestly think that this game is worth it just to listen to the soundtrack. It's absolutely gorgeous.

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