Play harder


A strange fashion had evolved in the game industry: Big publishers and developers are making only “products”, while independents are considering the medium of video games as a form of artistic self-expression. Personally, I support this idea, because sometimes we get much cheaper and more enjoyable stuff from the latter than the expensive games of the former.

BeginningIt can be the hand-drew Machinarium, the awfully genial Braid, or the Bastion from the action-adventure genre, the independent developers prove such creativity that big fishes — who are mostly just mining their franchises — can be envy of.

The story is simple like a peg: An apocalyptic event named the Calamity smashed the world apart, and only some floating parts remained from it. Our main hero, the Kid awakes on a floating land like that, but soon he finds the only stable point; the Bastion. He is helped by old Rucks — who is, in the same time, the narrator of the game — to collect a splintered energy crystal, the Core, which can physically rebuild the once country, Caelondia. The elders might count on the Calamity, because they made a machine under the Bastion that can produce buildings and landmass by the help of the crystal splinters. Of course, there is more. Two more survivors (Zulf and Zia) turn up, but they came from another country — and there is a diary that tells a lot about what caused the Calamity.

To continue the mandatory circle, lets take a look at the background! Seven people + two years = Bastion. The Supergiant Games was founded by two guys who climbed up from the pits of Electronic Arts, because they wanted to try some ideas and anyway, they wanted to do a much steadier work. One of the founders was writing, the other was developing the gameplay, but they needed a musician, an artist, a narrator, another writer and a helping hand in general. They made it frankly, even if there was some people in the team who never met before the release of the game. This is where art begins to grow.

GoThe world is fantasy based with a little steampunk tone in the equipment, for example, there is a hand-mortar and a volley-shooting crossbow. What is more unique: the post-apocalyptic landscape is deliberately beautiful, the Kid doesn’t squirm around in the usual heap of ruins. There are some ruins, of course, but they are sitting in the rapidly extending greenery, so by the cleverly used colors and the finely smoothed edges the whole game looks like it was painted by hand.

Story and gameplay was built together, which means that — although they got a narrator for telling the background story at a very early phase — for example the idea of Calamity came from the explanation of floating land parts, which came from the idea of showing the sky in isometric view. (I think I don’t have to explain why a downward-turned camera doesn’t see the sky, do I?)

Thus, various ideas coming up during the development processes were affecting on the gameplay and the story in the same time. Probably, that can’t happen in the case of the umpteenth episode of a carefully overfranchised mainstream game. Considering this, no wonder if someone leaves EA and walks his own path.

ZulfI must go into the music as well. It was a one-man work, but please note down the name of Darren Korb, because I think we will hear about him later. He is composing for TV series, playing in more than one band, but hopefully he won’t stop “contaminating” the game industry, because Bastion Soundtrack contains some hits that stand their ground even without the game.

On the whole, Bastion is among the games that worth their price. Or more. Enjoyable gameplay, well-wrought story, artful graphics, great music, motivating achievements (they are not just titles but useful too), diverse equipment — really enough for a good game. And if all of these are compiled with all the souls of the developers, then there is no reason to mention any little flaw.

I must add that I didn’t remember any flaw while I wrote this short review.


Bastion_boxPublisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Developer: Supergiant Games
Style: action-adventure

What I liked:
everything else

What I didn’t like:
no such thing


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