The Best Indie Game of the Summer: Bastion

Summers are for swimming, riding bikes with friends, and rebuilding your floating civilization after a disastrous event. No, this is not another earthquake, it’s Bastion, the refreshingly simple, yet detailed action RPG (Role Playing Game) available now on Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and PC platforms.

The game follows the story of “The Kid”, its main character who awakens to find his home and city completely destroyed by an event called “The Calamity”. This incident nearly annihilates his world, leaving only floating fragments behind. As “The Kid” struggles to accept the reality of his situation, he learns that he can rebuild the Bastion, using the power of a monument that once stood in its center. The problem is the monument is in pieces, floating on chunks of what used to be a vast continent. If “The Kid” can gather these pieces he can bring the Bastion back to its original glory.

The tone of the story is created through the rough and bluesy voice of one of the Bastion’s inhabitants, Rucks. Thanks to this narrator, players are spared reading the countless and typical RPG thought bubbles, and instead are taking part in their own action narrative. Every item, victory, and defeat is read to the player and creates a deeper tale covering character back-story on top of unfolding events. This element generates the experience that you are affecting the story through your own decisions. Mood is further enhanced by the addition of acoustic guitar and various other tracks weaving a haunting and rustic soundtrack.

Bastion’s realms are beautifully crafted. As you walk onto the edges of the map, new tiles of earth rise up from nowhere as if your direction is fabricating the very universe you are to save. The watercolor landscapes add an intense backdrop to the rich in game details. Stages are full of trinkets that can be appreciated or destroyed.

Whether you prefer up-close combat with your oversized Cael Hammer or frantically firing Dueling Pistols, eleven unique weapons form to a player’s style. Each weapon carries ten potential upgrades, further customizing the fight and playing to the user’s strengths. Furthermore, you are able to choose two active weapons at any time along with a special skill adding to the already frenzied action. Throw in special items such as Werewhiskey or Stabsinthe that can affect weapon damage, reload rate, blast radius, and extra lives, and the customization becomes endless.

Are you a hardcore gamer? Need controller breaking difficulty and achievements to boot? Bastion has this covered. You can toggle ten active idols that vary the difficulty of the enemies, but also multiply the payoff. Turn on one and up to ten idols, but be warned; you are only hurting yourself.

Implementing a downloadable title over traditional disc method has allowed developer Supergiant Games to make an experience focused on storytelling and the customization of game play. They have crafted a vibrant world and mythology that incorporates many elements of a great downloadable title. I recommend taking the time to appreciate the attention to detail in all aspects of Bastion. It is by far one of the most memorable gaming experiences available this summer.

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