E3 2011: Bastion Hands-On

E3 2011: Bastion Hands-On

At the Warner Bros booth at E3 I was able to check out the most recent indie-turned-big-deal, SuperGiant Games’ top-down action-RPG, Bastion, and man am I glad that the indie studio is getting all the money, fame, and praise, because they most certainly deserve it.

Bastion’s been a game I’ve been looking forward to playing for a while, and as I played through the beginning stages, I couldn’t help but adore the hell out of it. It’s charming through and through, and while it doesn’t do anything too new, there’s a couple aspects that make it easy to see why there’s been such strong consistent hype.

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For one, the vivid, oil painting-esque art style is supremely appealing to even non-gamers; while playing the short demo I did notice a surprising amount of bystanders and onlookers marveling at the gorgeous color palette, which is unfortunately still uncommon among AAA games these days.

The main draw though is the awesome narration that occurs throughout the game. It’s hard to explain, but the narration occurs as you play through the game. Meaning, when you, say, pick up a new weapon, the narrator will make a great offhand comment about whatever weapon you just collected. Additionally, if you decide to stop doing anything for a while, the narrator will say something to the extent of “He takes his time to catch his breath”, except with more creative flair.

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It’s very clever; the narrator is not just some disembodied voice over, but a fully realized character with personality, which you don’t see often or at all these days. While I’m not normally a fan of such blatant exposition, the ingenuity of the narrative was something that drove me to keep on playing Bastion and care about the plot.

At first glance, Bastion looks like just another “artsy” action RPG with fairly standard combat mechanics and a story that isn’t exactly revolutionary. However, the moment I started the demo, it was quite apparent that this is a game with heart and soul, and I for one can’t wait to fully enjoy the rest of it when it comes out during the XBLA “Summer of Arcade” suite, kicking off July 20. You better believe we’ll have a review of this up.