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Bastion E3 2011 Hands-On Preview

Bastion

Bastion became immediately likeable to us as soon the deep throated in-game narrator began describing the actions of the main character known only as “the kid”. Our protagonist wakes to find his world torn to pieces by a catastrophe known as the Calamity. As he walks forward the floor constructs itself from underneath and the narrator casually states “Ground firms up 'round his feet. He don't stop to wonder why.” This is the superb “reactive narrator” at work. It has to be heard in action to be fully appreciated, as this seamless commentary is a refreshing way of not just pointing out the obvious in an amusing way but it also provides some useful background information on items the kid might find.

Bastion

Of course you can’t make a game just using clever narration. Bastion is an isometric action-adventure game with hand-drawn graphics that create unique locations with vivid colours and charming animation. It can be off-putting at times having the ground appear as you walk around and it was a little difficult to understand which way to go at times. Despite these flaws the actual gameplay remained a pleasure. At any one time the kid can carry a melee and ranged weapon in addition to his shield. The player can also utilise a roll move to manoeuvre around enemies that occupy the land, although one has to be careful not to roll of the edge of the map lest the narrator will note “and then our hero fell to his death…” though once restarted he simply comments “Just kidding.”

Bastion

We also found the combat to be very involving. There is a decent sized armory of differing weapons with each having its own strengths and weaknesses, so weapons do require a level of thought to be properly employed in action. Enemies vary from big brutes with clubs to a swarm of floating glowing parasites, so the shield was actually useful for doing some deflecting and blocking work, although we still prefer using the evasive rolling technique. But let’s not forget the RPG elements to the game, which should make putting the controller down even more difficult. Experience points are earned through progression and can be spent on unlocking potions, weapons and upgrades. Because of the gameplay and combat set-up the player should be able to choose options to compliment their own playing style without having to worry about being penalised for making the wrong choices later on.

Bastion

We eventually made it to the Bastion, the place which was supposed to be a safe haven. All we found was an elderly man who wanted our help in gathering the materials required to complete the Bastion and build-up its potential. This sadly was where our demonstration had to end. We’d had a taste of what Bastion has to offer and we didn’t need a dynamic narrator to tell us that we’d had a fun first session. Bastion is perfectly suited as an arcade game and should provide perfect shots of entertainment over the length of the game, which is said to be around 8-10 hours, with additional ways to play after the first play-through.

Bastion

We didn’t realise at the time but the developer telling us about the game as we played was actually behind this voice talent. Supergiant Games houses only 7 team members, which goes someway to show how a small but eclectic mix of experienced talent can create something exceptional. Bastion has been selected as one of the five Summer of Arcade XBLA titles by Microsoft which highlights the game as having good potential, and rightly so if you ask us. There were a few minor niggles but overall the combat was tight, the graphics and sound were a joy and the sense of adventure was there too. Bastion is due for release on Xbox 360 for 1200 Microsoft Points on July 20th, with a PC digital release due later in the year.

Bastion

POBmaestro | 27th June, 2011

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