John McCarroll
E3 2011: Bastion Impressions
Supergiant Games' title talks and talks and talks...
06.14.11 - 5:55 PM

In the past few years, downloadable titles on consoles have taken leaps and bounds. With its initial 64 MB file limit, who would have expected that years later, we'd see something like Bastion available for Xbox Live Arcade? A part of Microsoft's Summer of Arcade promotion, Bastion isn't your standard Action-RPG. In fact, based on our demo, there's really nothing in the way of dialogue, something that wouldn't strike you as being a key selling point for a game. Bastion's different, however, in that the entire game is narrated. Now, I'm not referring to a "Yuna talks about herself all the way through Final Fantasy X-2"-style narration, but rather that the game takes its cues from a genre that most RPG fans wouldn't touch - the sports genre.

Electronic Arts has done it for years; John Madden and Pat Summerall, Martin Tyler and Andy Gray, Gary Thorne and Bill Clement. These teams have worked with immense systems to provide relatively seamless commentary for each of their sports. Bastion's developers may not necessarily have been inspired by Madden, FIFA, or NHL, but its main story vehicle works the same way: everything that you do in Bastion is narrated. All of the game's major plot points are described by the narrator, but killing enemies or taking damage or doing other things in the game also causes cues for the narrator. It's also relatively seamless, and during my demo, I never ran into an issue where the game stuttered or got things wrong. It was really a nice change of pace for RPGs and their sometimes ham-handed story sequences. What the audio also matched was the game's equally amazing visuals. Bastion is bright and vibrant and the environments construct themselves. Sound odd? As you walk along the map as The Kid and pieces of the environment fall from the sky into place. The actual environments look dazzling, as do the monster designs, though the monsters are fairly abstract.

The gameplay's not quite as innovative as the way that the rest of the game is presented, but it's a solid action-RPG. Combat flows well and you have access to a variety of weapons, both long range and short. Fans of Torchlight and Diablo know the drill - kill all your enemies, collect experience points, and when you get enough, choose your new abilities. It's not groundbreaking, but it doesn't need to be - the rest of the game is more than unique enough to make up for it.

Bastion is looking solid, especially considering it's being done by such a small team at Supergiant Games. We're excited to see it release as a part of the Summer of Arcade for Xbox Live Arcade and later this year for PC. Keep your eyes on RPGFan closer to release for a review of this unique title.