True Grit: Back To Bastion

By Alec Meer on September 14th, 2011 at 8:37 pm.

I'm sorry. I'm doing this for us all.

Supergiant’s sombre action-RPG Bastion was released on PC a few weeks back; John has already told you what he thinks of it, but in the last few days I’ve been exploring its shattered world for myself. It’s put me in a funny place. Spoilers of a sort await, so don’t read this unless you’ve played the game, don’t intend to, or don’t give a toss about narrative events in a hack and slash game.

I was sad when it ended. Forlorn, even. For me, that isn’t a regular state of affairs. Even with games I love, I’m oddly grateful when they wrap up – there’s a sense of accomplishment to it, and a relief that they didn’t string things out too long or defeat my sense of goodwill with a BioShock-boss or one too many achingly earnest cutscenes. Bastion, though: a true wave of sadness hit me as the credits rolled.


Why? Well, that’s thing. It’s all to do with the entire game, not the ending itself or even the fact that it had ended before I wanted it to end. For several hours, I’d been wrapped in a confluence of watching an extraordinary flying world crumble before my eyes, moody neo-cowboy music, a near-constant, constantly grim-yet-fatherly Sam Elliott-style narration and the sense of being caught on the horns of a moral dilemma I was powerless to do anything about. All of these are positives, because Bastion arranges them together with stout purpose – purpose of storytelling, and purpose of atmosphere. They mean that the game always has an air of sadness, and can only end with sadness. There is triumph. There is choice. There is, even, the option to start again in a Plus mode, with all my weapons and upgrades carried over.

I can’t overstate how strongly I don’t want to that, much as I’m grateful for the offer. Bastion told its tale, it told it movingly and it told it strangely – why would I want to pollute it with an overpowered replay? (There is a clever narrative justification as to why you might replay, depending on which ending you attain, and it makes me smile. Sadly. I still don’t want to replay. Not ever.) I wanted to go back to my Bastion, to carry on rebuilding the world and building myself. Resolving the Bastion’s problems, one way or another, meant that was an impossibility. What began in sadness and loss ended in kind, even if I achieved heroic things first.

There are three Bastions. There’s the game on my screen, the game in my ears and the game in my head. The second of these is, I think, the most powerful. I don’t know whether the Stranger’s narration was always in the design brief, or added later when other expository techniques were deemed to have failed. Either way, it transforms the game. It’s the Portal effect, to some extent – a potentially untrustworthy narrator talking to you at all times, and your only guide to what’s going on whether or not you put your faith in him. Kid’s got no place else to go.

Even having finished the game, I don’t know whether I trust The Stranger/Ruck. He has noble intentions, but at some point before that he had dark intentions; he claims to be trying to fix the damage he helped wreak, the accidental genocide of his own people as a result of deliberate attempted genocide of another, but he takes his damn time sharing any of this. He takes even longer to reveal that even if he can fix it, the cost will be terrible – and the original tragedy might just happen all over again. On his orders, I kill so many of the creatures I’m working to save. It’s for the greater good, he says. I listen. He has a warm, knowing voice. He sounds exactly like a frontier hero should sound. He knows more me about me than I do, whether from straight-up wisdom or a strange, secret link he’s not sharing. I have my theories. We all have our theories. I listen. He talks all the time, but he never says too much – each phrase is a blessing of brevity, loaded with subtext and ambiguity. Kid could listen to him all day.

But I don’t trust him, not for one second. I’ll do what he says, of course. I have no choice. There’s nothing else to do. His voice in my ear spurs me on. The soundtrack, an immediately memorably, immediately affecting hybrid of old West, old East and something new, something electronic, something dark, something adventurous, spurs me on too. I have listened to it many times since. Parts of it echo around my skull all day. Kid can’t hardly sleep for the music he hears all the time. Kid knows it’s time to move on now.

Then there’s the game in my head – the hack and slash game, the simple, Diablo-like saga of personal reward and personal greed. Unlocks, cash and experience. I know this song all too well. I’ve heard it a thousand times. I’ve grown tired of it a thousand times. It know it means I’m selfish, I’m compulsive, I care too deeply about things without depth. Bastion is different. Bastion has what Torchlight does not, what Titan Quest does not, what Diablo does not – it has purpose beyond my own interests. I want to know what happened. I want to undo what happened. I want the bigger guns and sharper blades and more apocalyptic skills because they will help me to find out what happened and to undo it. Kid means to keep on, no matter what comes for him.

I even did almost all of the Challenges, those completionist-pleasing vignettes of meaninglessness, because of this. I wanted it all, but I felt I wanted it for a real reason. Somehow, beating Diablo’s devil, the actual devil, could never manage that sense of import. I was only in that game for the loot, the loot for loot’s sake. This game’s devil, though – the unseen, non-corporeal devil of terrible tragedy – that’s a bugger I don’t want to see win the day. D’you know, Bastion is a dungeon-running game without a climactic boss fight to speak of? I only just realised that. It didn’t need one. I didn’t feel the lack of one. This collapsing world and its steely narrator conveyed far more threat than even the most gigantic monster ever could. You don’t need a boss fight for menace and you don’t need a boss fight for closure. I wish more action games realised the same thing. Kid knows he’ll never have it better, even though he’s never seen worse.

Finally, there’s the game on my screen, and there I’m speaking purely in terms of visual aesthetics. That one I don’t like quite so much. I love how Bastion sounds and I gave myself utterly to how it played, but at times I can only just tolerate how it looks. I suppose the jarring juxtaposition of, say, the gravelly tones of the Stranger and his squat, giant-eyed Nintendian appearance is a deliberate one. I like the colour, I like the monsters, I like the animations, I love the transforming, reforming, disintegrating tile-based world (the latter so much so that this paragraph is halfway to wildly inaccurate), I even like the frozen, horrifyingly smiling victims of The Calamity. The occasional, hyper-cute, hyper-deformed living survivors of the people I’m in theory trying to save or avenge? Can barely stand to look at ‘em. They don’t match up with the other two games. I don’t know what I would want Bastion to look like, but I know it’s not this. Screenshots alone would have turned me right off Bastion. In fact, I only started playing because overwhelmingly positive word of mouth overcame the faint lip-curl I’d made in response to the images I’d seen. I was rewarded. Richly rewarded,

Bar the very occasional mortifyingly soft-focus, mawkishly child-faced but mercifully static cutscenes, the game’s look kept out of my way and in return I let my distate for such minor things slide, revelled in Bastion’s bittersweet apocalypse, and focused all the more on the game in my ears and the game in my head – how they made me feel and where they took me. Those are two of my favourite games of the year, games that remarkably made a virtue of both sadness and of self-interest. I’m heartbroken they’ve ended. I never want to play them again.

And I just don’t understand why anyone wouldn’t want to have the musket equipped at all times.

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85 Comments »

  1. djbriandamage says:

    “constantly grim-yet-fatherly Shawn Elliott-style narration”

    There, fixed that for ya.

    GFW radio anyone? Whiskey nerd?

    • Heliocentric says:

      Whiskey nerd was an incredible invention, that he now works at irrational makes me wonder if they are going to tap into that creativity.

  2. noom says:

    Pff. Duelling pistols are where it’s at.

    But yeah, Bastion left me feeling rather emotional. Damn all these morally ambiguous choices games throw at me these days. Where’s good old black-and-white decision making when you need it? I spend the majority of my life wracked with pangs of cold merciless regret. I don’t need that shit from my gaming too :(

    • Alexander Norris says:

      Don’t be a scrub and compromise; you want to use the musket and duelling pistols.

      Seriously the best weapon combination in the game. You’ll be completely untouchable once they’re upgraded.

    • Nevard says:

      I can’t possibly agree more about the musket
      The musket never left my grip for long after I got it, especially once it was upgraded to fire twice in a row every time I pressed the button

    • formivore says:

      I’m halfway through a playthrough and bow + musket seem superior to me. It’s an incredible 1-2 punch. I don’t see what the advantage of the pistols over the bow is as long as you have the musket to mop up.

    • PleasingFungus says:

      The musket took me through a good chunk of the game, but at certain point the rifle (upgraded with AP rounds) just made it look like a joke. I went through most of the ending with needler + rifle.

    • Cradok says:

      One of the beauties of this game is that the damage output from all the weapons is roughly equal; there’s no one weapon or paring that easily overshadows the rest. You play what you like.

    • Daniel Is I says:

      Once I actually tried the musket, I loved it.

      The Musket-Fang Repeater Combo can be amazingly strong at times. Blast enemies for high damage and knockback, roll and out as many as you can before you need to repeat.

      I later tried replacing the Repeater with the Calamity Cannon, but it never felt the same. The cannon is also the only weapon which I could not complete the challenge level of.

    • Vorrin says:

      so you all went the 2 ranged weapons way? That’s quite surprising, I thought the little quick sword and the musket worked best for me, didn’t really feel two ranged weapons would work better, and especially, without melee I’d have found the fights less pleasant.

      Aside from this, great article, I will turn people to it and spare myself long streams of word of mouth from now on :)

    • colinmarc says:

      The reach of the spear was my favorite, especially when it ignores armor. For my secondary I switched between the musket, carbine and needler.

    • mondomau says:

      I played around with the pistols/musket combo for a bit, but pistols/fire bellows is unequivocally the optimal build. Seriously, it got to the point where I stopped using it because it made the game too easy – With judicious use of the shield, you can pretty much trounce anything without taking a scratch, especially once they’re all upgraded.

      For sheer enjoyment though, Calamity Cannon or the Fang Repeater with either the sword or hammer = good times.

    • enobayram says:

      For a long time, I went around with musket + bow. Sometimes switching to musket + rifle. But when the Calamity cannon and the mortar showed up. I had no choice but to switch to them, especially since I couldn’t resist enabling all the totems (All of them combined, they make the game much more difficult). With all the upgrades + werewhiskey + its secret skill, you basically deal 2500 damage at once with the mortar. It takes an awful lot of skill to arrange that though.

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      Oozo says:

      I second Cradock – the very fact that we can have this discussion probably means that they did very well weapon-wise. (I switched weapons often, but I had a tendency to use those that felt… heavy, physical, llike the musket, and the hammer – with the added feedback of the controller, it really made playing the game a blast.)

    • undead dolphin hacker says:

      Spear + Carbine.

    • TheOldFirm says:

      I always liked the Spear and Bow & Arrow. They felt the weightiest to me, but I’m not sure if it was the most effective combo, but I never felt disadvantaged.

      I also loved how they seemd to have a comment for the Stranger to make for just about any combo of weapons.

    • Marshall says:

      Industrial-strength Fire Bellows and Double-Shot Musket (and a half dozen friendly Squirts whenever possible) were pretty unstoppable, especially in levels with pincushions/other armored flora and fauna. As a combination, it’s a lot more hacksaw than scalpel, but I wasn’t about to let that stop me.

  3. smartalco says:

    I felt pretty much exactly like you for games 1 and 2, but I also loved the one I was looking at. Different tastes I guess.

  4. Vexing Vision says:

    Play the Plus mode just for the first map, if that doesn’t tickle you.

    You’re in for a surprise. :)

  5. djbriandamage says:

    My real comment now.

    When I saw the art style of the characters on a Steam ad I swore never to buy such pap. With nothing better to do one recent weekend I tried the demo and bought the game in the same breath as finishing the demo. It’s the most compelling demo I’ve played since The Longest Journey.

    Character art aside, I’m blown away by the graphics and presentation. The way the world is summoned by your approach is so marvellous, and the little nuances of animation are monumentally important in dodging and blocking oncoming attacks. Nice tight controls with keyboard and mouse for the most part, save for aim focus and block both being assigned to the spacebar.

    Great story, and it’s nothing short of miraculous how much depth they introduce without ever pausing the gameplay for more than a moment. Portal is indeed a good comparison here. I have enough mental bandwidth to perform actions while listening so I hope this efficient use of my entertainment time becomes the standard in more games.

    I finished the game and started a Plus game shortly thereafter. Then I stopped a few levels in. The game had made its mark and I was already satisfied, satiated.

    Thank frig for this game. It’s little McNuggets like Bastion, Digital: A Love Story, and even Realm of the Mad God that get me excited about gaming again like a giddy child. Cheap, free, and microtransaction games surpass AAA Call of Hoopla games in every way I care about.

  6. Dominic White says:

    Bastion was a super-lovely game, and I feel kinda bad that I got it for free, due to a Microsoft billing mistake giving me a bunch of funbux that I wasn’t meant to have.

    Then I remember that the developers get paid in full anyway, and that Microsoft were the only ones to lose out, and stop feeling bad.

    Beautiful atmosphere. So easy to get immersed in the world due to the mixture of beautiful music and great narration. Audio is so often a neglected facet of games design, but it took front and center stage on Bastion, and it worked out great.

    And yeah, the growing sense of moral ambiguity and that last bit of dread that you might end up starting it all over again, repeating old tragedies once more (The Kid, Zulf and Zia all have unhappy stories leading right up to the Calamity) led to a second replay, in-context, and resulting in a more satisfactory ‘final’ end.

    Good stuff.

    • lumenadducere says:

      Zulf’s life actually was fairly solid. It’s Zia’s and the Kid’s lives that were miserable. There’s a reason Zulf does what he does and how far he goes – it’s not just moral outrage, it’s more personal because of what happened to him when tragedy struck.

    • Berzee says:

      Yeah — notice how if you choose one ending, in the credit pictures Zulf is sad and Zia is happy…and vice versa if you choose the other one.

  7. razgon says:

    Very nice write-up Mr Meer – and you succinctly captured what I feel about the game. Its really a step towards games as art as I see it.

  8. DiGi says:

    OST Link for Rest of the world: http://supergiantgames.bandcamp.com/

  9. Abundant_Suede says:

    Bastion was pretty and sounded nice, and could certainly be appreciated for its artistic merits (although the narration gimmick got old quickly, in my opinion). But I never really got a sense of much of a “game” there, from my admittedly short time in the demo.

    There didn’t appear to be any sort of penalty or drawback for dying, and therefore there didn’t seem to be much skill required. I just sat back at one point, sipping my tea, and let enemies beat on me until I died, at which point I respawned and took a couple swipes, sat back and drank more tea. Finally, after 5 minutes in the same spot of just dying and re-spawing to see if there was a downside to that, I finished them off at my leisure, with no particular skill or concern for my health, or sense of urgency. Again, based solely on the demo it seemed like Bastion has more interest in being an interactive cartoon, than any real game per se.

    Is the demo giving me an inaccurate picture? Does it get better than that in terms of gameplay? Have I missed seeing the real game here?

    • Alec Meer says:

      The demo is giving you an inaccurate picture.

    • HothMonster says:

      never tried the demo but in game you get one death and and then if you die again you have to start the level over, so you couldnt just die over and over again. Game starts pretty easy but with the god shrines activated (they buff the enemies and debuff you) the game can be fairly challenging. Also lots of different weapons and many ways to play.

    • Abundant_Suede says:

      Well, I’ll give the game another look then. Not really much of a demo, if it doesn’t give you an accurate picture of the game-play experience though.

      Thanks for educating me on this! I admit I was at a loss as to what the praise for this game was all about.

    • HothMonster says:

      if I were you I certainly wouldn’t pirate it, instantly realize how awesome it is and than rush to steam to throw money at these guys. I know I didn’t.

    • PodX140 says:

      Similar story. There is no way I played this somehow and then purchased it, that’d be wrong (or so so many people think). The same didn’t happen for too many games this year. And I also didn’t tell my friends about these games either. Piracy is completely one way and doesn’t contribute anything at all to the devs, of course not.

  10. HothMonster says:

    Pike and Machete or Duel Pistols and Bow, either combo is unstoppable.

    New game plus knows you beat the game already once, there are little things in Rucks dialogue that….well i think you get it and I know im not spoiling it, but its certainly cool. I havnt finished round 2 yet so Im not sure if its just little things or there is a bigger realization anywhere along the way.

    Also if you turn on all the gods at the shrine New game + is not an over-easy walkthrough

  11. Navagon says:

    I haven’t read all of this as I skipped past anything that could lead to a spoiler. I haven’t completed it yet. But I do have similar feelings towards the game. In a way, when I started playing it I felt like it was deliberately toying with my expectations. It points you in one direction before taking you in another, altogether more enjoyable direction.

    I wish I could believe that it has left me more open to other titles that at first appear to be something unappealing to me. But truth be told, most games wear their hearts on their sleeves, where they have a heart at all.

  12. Felixader says:

    SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS!

    YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

    The end i choose was…… SPOILERS!

    defnduvndvndvndvn added this so you don’t have to read the first words
    ufhsduvhddfefhnihn after a brake in the text wich always happenes nearly atomatic
    the one where you got to carry on in this reality. The story that carried on in my head saw the old guy telling his story to others to teach them a lesson and us getting to the front of new adventures together with the strange and somewhat complicated kind of friendship. ^.^ defnduvn dvndvndvn added this so you don’t have to read the first words
    ufhsduvhddfefhnihn after a brake in the text wich always happenes nearly atomatic

  13. scharmers says:

    Overwrought Bastion reviews are overwrought.

    Bastion isn’t so great, so wonderful of a game as it is a reflection of the continually impoverished game writing situation and “voice” overall. It reminds me of Planescape: Torment in that you can take a well-worn genre game, add some pathos and some decent writing, and VOILA! you get something that game nerds just can’t keep from harping on about.

    Myself, I saw Bastion as a Deathspank clone, only with poorer mechanics, no humor, and lots of emo. It was all right, and had some clever emotion manipulation, but nothing that other media hasn’t done far more effectively for a much longer time.

    • Malarious says:

      Implying Deathspank had humor or decent mechanics? What? Did we play the same game?

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      Eric says:

      Yeah, I was just respectfully, quietly disagreeing right up until you said Bastion‘s mechanics aren’t as good as Deathspank‘s.

      That’s insane.

    • Nick says:

      shine on you crazy, non-nerd, super individual, you.

    • scharmers says:

      It’s simple. Mechanics: Deathspank at least remembered that it needed to be a decent ARPG and the game’s systems and loot provide a lot of variety. Bastion honestly could have been any genre — side-scroller or text adventure would have worked as well — but ARPG evidently came up by default. There’s a dearth of loot, weapon, and armor types. “But pip pip, old boy, old sock, old 2000 flushes,” you Bastion-loving lot might be saying, “Bastion doesn’t need those fripperies. It’s all about the story, the music, the pathos, the something in French I can’t be bothered to Google.” Bollox. Deathspank is a solid ARPG, a solid game (the humor can be dubious, but only the pince-nez snobs can honestly say it has NO humor); Bastion is a story in search of a game. I found it effective in some ways, not so great in others, and gain endless amusement in the yots who breathlessly wax double-plus eloquent over such a confection. (One is only allowed to breathlessly wax over one game, and that is System Shock).

    • Nevard says:

      Feel free not to enjoy Bastion
      Implying that everyone else is wrong to have a differing opinion of the game is a bit silly though

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      Eric says:

      Bastion doesn’t need those “fripperies” because it isn’t trying to be an ARPG of the same flavor as Deathspank. Yes, Deathspank has a loot system (though honestly, especially with the “auto-best-equipment” button, it’s really just a linear upgrade tree), but it has nothing to even approximate Bastion‘s weapon upgrade system that lets you tweak each weapon to fit your playstyle, swapping upgrades as you go until you find the fit that works for you.

      Nor do I find its combat nearly as satisfying from a mechanics standpoint – Bastion‘s combat is a dance of dodging, blocking, and timing power attacks to get bonuses to damage and penetration; in Deathspank you whack an enemy until they fall down, end of story.

      It’s fine to prefer the traditional ARPG mechanics employed in Deathspank, but to claim that Bastion just ignores mechanics in favor or story is to basically say you didn’t play much of Bastion. It’s a much more heavily action-focused experience, and it’s tight as a drum, especially when you’ve got your weapons upgraded and start turning on some of the shrine idols to make the game tougher.

      Bottom line for me, as soon as I finished Bastion I wanted to play it again immediately – not just because of the story, but because I love the combat and wanted to try the different weapons. Deathspank I never finished at all.

    • enobayram says:

      I love it when games have mini-games seamlessly integrated into the actual gameplay. I should also mention that computer hacking or lock-picking mini-games that stop the main gameplay don’t count. I’m talking about stuff like the focus attack in the bow, or the counter-attack in the shield in Bastion. The combat is very dynamic and much fun in Bastion, much more so than other similar games.

  14. Jeremy says:

    I honestly felt the same way when it all ended… overwhelming sadness, and whenever I hear that final song “Setting Sail, Coming Home” it all hits me again. It’s strange for a game to get the ending right, and legitimately be a hopeful ending, but at the same time you’re hit with that sadness of all that was lost along the way.

    • trigger_rant says:

      “Build That Wall” from the soundtrack just blows my mind.

  15. Frankie The Patrician[PF] says:

    I loved Bastion… the second I completed it I hit the “New Game Plus” and immediately started AGAIN. It is totally worthy, because you can be more relaxed (or not by throwing in some Gods, but I was), experiment (I swear I tried every possible weapon combination or very nearly), level up your weapons (I am kind of sucker for that…), combine tonics, buy new stuff, complete challenges etc. etc. For me that was where the true fun started…and I got to try the second ending (if a bit against my choice) and some of the “easter eggs” were bloody fantastic. And then I hit the New Game Plus button again…I had to complete weapon upgrades, you see!

    • Nevard says:

      How did you have to play thrice to complete weapon upgrades?
      I got almost all of them on my first playthrough and was done by about 40% through the second (the Calamity Cannon is the toughest to get the parts for)

  16. whydidyoumakemeregister says:

    The narration was a one trick pony, just like the story, the enemies, and the gameplay. I can’t even force myself to finish it, though I was enthralled by the demo. I’m so tired of hearing the narrators disjointed lines; nothing flowed because he read every line exactly the same as the one before. After hearing him say “…KID was all mixed up in a blabla now I’ll end on a low note” 500 times I was just over it.

    • HothMonster says:

      did you die 500 times? i only reheard shit when i had to replay a level. or when i did the survival levels over again

    • trigger_rant says:

      You are aware you can turn off the narration in the options menu right.

    • VampireCactus says:

      Turning off the narration in Bastion would be like turning off the music in Rock Band. It just…doesn’t make sense.

      I can’t understand why anyone would dislike the narration. It seems like the kind of thing you’d have to want to dislike going in. No lines are repeated, everything he says adds meaningful story or atmosphere to the game….it just wouldn’t be Bastion without it.

    • Ultra Superior says:

      Yes. First commenter that dislikes the narration, finally.

      I ONLY PLAYED THE DEMO.

      I was prepared to buy the game based on music and graphics from the trailer, but the narration…. I couldn’t stand it. Its like having some jerk actor sitting on a sofa behind you, commenting everything you do with a forced cowboy voice. It was the sole reason why I lost interest in the game.

    • enobayram says:

      I’ve come to realize that there are people to dislike anything in life. You never know, maybe they had old grumpy neighbors who talked like that, so they’re irritated when they hear it. It could be anything; we’re all different.

    • whydidyoumakemeregister says:

      It simply wasn’t good voiceover work. The actor accented things the exact same way in every single line. I never said he repeated his lines, just that everything was IDENTICAL. They skimped on the voice actor, just like so many video games tend to do. I’ll admit that I saw Tom Waits’ Big Time on Netflix right around when I was playing, so to go from that to the vanilla narration in Bastion could be a reason for my disappointment.

  17. trigger_rant says:

    To me personally, Bastion was the biggest surprise this year, I enjoyed it from start to finish, and I cant say that about many games. Portal 2 and Bastion, to me, the most outstanding single player experiences of 2011. Of course, this is personal preference. Those games just instantly clicked with me.

  18. rocketman71 says:

    Such a fantastic game. Loved it, but curiously chose first the ending that, let’s say, doesn’t justify New Game Plus. Worth it all the way.

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    Bluerps says:

    Interesting. I really loved how the game looked and I never felt that the looks clash with the narrative or the music. In fact, some kind of grimmer or darker style might not have worked nearly as well for me. But I agree, that the graphics alone do not make it great.

    “the Challenges, those completionist-pleasing vignettes of meaninglessness”
    Are they meaningless? You feel good after beating them – that’s meaning too. Only a different (and much more common) kind than the rest of the game offers.

    There is no boss fight at the end, that’s true. But the end is certainly climactic. That scene in which you carry Zulf through the Ura (or slaughter all of them, which is the alternative, as far as I know) is really emotionally powerful, which is what an end-boss fight is supposed to accomplish, I think.

  20. Octaeder says:

    SPOILERS!

    I did find the last level really affecting. If you choose to save Zulf, carrying through the last wave of enemies, some of them just stopping to watch you with Rucks’ narration talking through all the things you’d do to him… Well, that was strong stuff right there.

    • Snidesworth says:

      Likewise. It was a fine example of story told through gameplay. Your ponderous pace as you carry him, combined with your dwindling health and supply of potions as all the Ura riddle you with bolts, convey the grim futility of what you’re trying to do. Until, when you’re on your last shred of health, they stop, seeing what you’re doing and (presumably) the nobility of it.

      Except for that one guy, but he got smacked the shit out of.

  21. Mehbah says:

    I’ll just put a bunch of nonsense here to avoid spoilers showing up in that box up there. So hurra durra hurra durra hurra durra hurra durra hurra durra hurra durra hurra durra.

    The Bastion and the weapon used to cause the catastrophe weren’t the same thing, were they? Rucks only designed the time machine thing, while the mancers and Zia’s father made the weapon (and Zia’s father is the one who made it go off). So Rucks isn’t the one to blame for the weapon or calamity, even if he was aware of its existence.

    At least, unless my memory’s failing me.

    • Felixader says:

      But i think he had indirectly to do with it.

      But no the bastion and the weapon that caused the calamity weren’t the same, i am pretty shure about it.

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    jaheira says:

    That’s a beautiful write-up of a beautiful game. If it wasn’t for Deus Ex Human Resources this would be my game of the year so far.

  23. nootron says:

    Beautiful game. I couldn’t stand the combat. I mean, I’m not expecting PhysX ragdoll motion, but hitting enemies couldn’t have been less satisfying.

  24. darkath says:

    The plus mode is cool when you enable Idols, just sayin’.

  25. Advanced Assault Hippo says:

    Bastion was alright. But mostly forgettable fluff.

    I do sometimes worry about myself though when I get such a limited experience from a game that others are raving about on such astronomic, paradigm-shifting levels. All the horrors I’ve seen in battle may have doused my ability to be awed by such things any more.

  26. Jazz42 says:

    It seems that I’m one of the few that found it rather boring. It was nice and well put together but i lost interest after I had done the first bit of collecting all the bits and pieces. I’m assuming there was something more after that as I didn’t continue..I just got bored of the combat and what I found to be a very vague story.

  27. shinygerbil says:

    SPOILERS.

    Get yer fresh Spoilers ‘ere! Two fer a paaand.

    Hey, you know what? Spoilers.

    Musket is the blunderbuss-type weapon, right? That and a flame thrower, and seriously who needs long-range weapons? (Apart from that level where you get the sniper rifle type thing.) Also the narrator seems to like my choice – although I suspect he has something to say about most combinations.

    The story was fundamentally a sad one, I feel. Something about the bleak outlook and the fact that neither ending was really a “good” ending, combined with the moral ambiguity (or lack thereof in certain parts) left a bitter taste in my mouth, for all the right reasons. But I’d absolutely love to have been able to just stay in that world, slowly rebuilding it, reclaiming it, exploring it, forever. Guess which ending I chose first.

    Raced through Plus mode in about a day. Glad I did so. Managed to complete everything, meaning that as I was playing on the Consoletoy I got 100% Toy-Achievement-Things for a game *for the first time*. Glad it was a game like Bastion. It was, as others have mentioned, nice to hear all the subtle hints in the narration the second time round.

    Also, I loved the extra levels with the crackpipe, etc. where you get to hear a little of the characters’ histories. Also it’s intensely funny to me to walk up to the camp, press a button and the Kid just throws himself to the ground next to it. HAHA, YOU MISSED, KID. BED FAIL.

    I guess for me it was just a really nice experience, very coherent (ignore what that Mister Meer said about them graphics) and everything just came together in the right way and I really enjoyed it all. For those that didn’t “get it” – that’s normal and expected too. Everyone has books/films/musics to which they have a strong emotional connection while others simply don’t understand it; it’s just down to taste, really. For those who enjoy this sort of thing, Bastion is a fantastic little example of it done very right. But obviously, like most things, it’s not for everyone. I could never really enjoy Kate Bush after all.

    Bastion is one of an ever-growing list of games that I have played recently which have made me think to myself that games are growing up. Not that it was particularly mature in its subject matter or presentation (visually at least) but it had a strong voice, a strong direction, and its own personality. It did its own thing because it wanted to, and I absolutely love that games can simply be so diverse these days. Good times to be a gamer.

  28. pupsikaso says:

    Alec, I’m sorry but I didn’t quite get what your gripe is with the aesthetic. Can you elaborate a little? Do you feel like the visual style is childish? Is that what you said, or did you mean something else?

  29. Zanchito says:

    Bastion is a beutiful little thing. We’re speaking Trine beautiful. Awesome music too!

  30. wodin says:

    A beautiful, quality game. Gameplay is excellent but abit awkward when using a keyboard..that was my only gripe and it was a small one at that.

  31. Ultra Superior says:

    you don’t hear how FAKE that voiceover sounds ?

  32. Vorrin says:

    Ultra Superior: i see your point, I really do, that was my first thought as well.

    Not sure when exactly that changes in your mind, but it does,I reckon it is as the voice starts getting you a bit more interested in the story, and eventually, you start loving this cliche voice with cliche accent very much.

    Not sure whether the demo lets you play long enough, but it definitely went so for me in the full game, so, I would suggest you try and soldier on with it a bit,it pays you back big time…

  33. Gundrea says:

    Bastion was one of the year’s mehs for me. Positives vs. negatives leaving a zero on the enjoyment scale.

  34. Premium User Badge

    sonofsanta says:

    Well now, that was just one of the most beautiful WIT’s I ever did read. Now I’m gonna have to bloody well buy the game, you sod.

  35. Calabi says:

    Twas a very sad game. But still was it even explained why the land forms up around you? Or what it used to look like?

    • aethereal says:

      I think they explained it by saying that the gear charm thing you carry on your back is a special symbol (dont remember for what though) and that it has residual power that the city can use (a mini mini core)

  36. GenBanks says:

    Just finished Bastion (went for the Beginning ending) and absolutely adore it. If you like it a good thing for everyone to do is write recommendations on Steam.

    Unlike Alec though I already feel the urge to replay it and discover the alternate ending…

  37. bluebogle says:

    Easily my favorite game I’ve played all year. I would recommend it to just about anyone.

  38. aethereal says:

    Hammer and Bow were my favorite.
    With max speed/damage upgrades for the bow and lots of nasty damage liqours, spewing out devastating power shots was a blast.

  39. RegisteredUser says:

    This is exactly why I never wanted to finish Final Fantasy VII. It had a similiar thing going for it.

    Other than that, Musket + Hammer and eventually Hammer+Calamity Cannon with homing for me(oneshot ALL the things!).

    Also: TITS ALEC, GOD DAMMIT, TITS.

    But yea, Bastion. It’s good.

  40. pertusaria says:

    Having basically found the game reminiscent of Ocarina of Time, I was then surprised and suitably disturbed to find that the Kid had to kill humans in the last few levels (and aren’t those human corpses generous with their health potions and loot?). Then your friend the kindly old gent basically puts a nuke in your hand. Weird stuff.

    I very much enjoyed the game and may eventually go back for the extra ending, or to finish off the life stories. If I were to nitpick, both times I killed the Anklegator I felt as if I had been losing badly, only for the game to allow me to win. I don’t know if this is what happened, just felt I didn’t deserve to get past that monster so easily (closest thing to a boss fight in the game, perhaps?).

  41. Chard6 says:

    The Demo doesnt do the narrator justice, i felt that he progressed very strongly into the late game, giving backstory of environments you visit and progressing the over arching story as you went along without the use of cutscenes which would interfere with you wanting to smash everything.

  42. Chard6 says:

    this isnt so much a dungeon crawler like diablo and torchlight which use alot of grinding because i felt that there was alot of customised level design which showed you the game.