In 2014 Supergiant Games published one of the games of the year and certainly one of the most complete and engulfing gaming experiences developed by an independent studio. For those who have played Bastion this comes as no surprise, though.
Supergiant Games first title is a really original, thoughtful, dynamic, beautiful, eerily sad, genuinely touching, action-packed RPG.
Bastion would put you in the shoes of the Kid, who seems to be the only survival of the great Calamity, which extinguished the civilization in the blink of an eye. His eye. Only fragments of previously complex and developed society are left here and there: isolated islands amid a vast ocean of total destruction. But I am getting ahead of myself.
One of the things that make this indie game so special is the way the story is told, the way the world emerges from darkness. Everything is so smooth and so seamless, floating and rhythmic, yet dramatically enchanting and often frantically paced.
As the Kid’s awakes, so does the world around him. The first and maybe only living soul brightens the reality as his steps echo on the battered tiles. Or maybe everything is weaved by the voice of the narrator, who guides and gives meaning to each action of the Kid? His wry, witty, sometimes cynical, sometimes joking voice is the only companion the Kid has.
Often the path is precariously narrow and danger lurks about, fitting like a glove the way this realm is presented. It is so visually and audibly remarkable that truly makes Bastion stand out among other titles in the genre.
Equipped with two weapons at a time and a special ability, the Kid starts collecting shards and relics from the old world. They are scattered around, hidden in shady places. There are quite a few weapons to choose from and each one of them can be empowered, enabling various tactical approaches and ways to play the game. Every single weapon has to be yielded with the respective strength and agility, which don’t come easily. There are proving grounds where one could go and practice his aim, speed, precision or reflexes against tricky opponents.
To make matters even more tactical, the Kid has a massive shield for protection or skillful counter-blocks, which could shatter the enemies. Indeed, the gameplay is not the most innovative out there, but it is very diverse, with a few original touches here and there.
It is the world of Bastion that makes the whole experience such a great journey, the likes of which I have never seen before. There are many tactical trials, strategic decisions, ways to invest yourself more in the game but at the end of the day it is the complete engagement the game creates.
Seamlessly, yet with great power, the player is submerged in the world of the Caelondia. Or what is left of it, anyway. The more one uncovers the world the more intriguing everything grows, the shattered web of things emerges as a overreaching pattern. New answers often spurn new questions and point in new directions. Best of all, some really world-defining decisions are yours to make.
I would ramble about it a lot more if I had not felt the urge to uncover the final truth behind the Calamity. See you on the other side!
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