REVIEW: Bastion

After Steam’s Summer Sale (my poor wallet!), I came to the conclusion that I have way too many games to play, and so, after beating Pokémon Conquest, I jumped right into a new game that I should’ve played a looong time ago: Bastion. Bastion solidifies my belief that indie games, while shorter than most big console games, can be so much more satisfying when you take care to empower the strengths of your game.

Plot:

The plot is actually fairly straightforward. The Calamity, an event that turned the world upside down and inside out, has just happened, and you, The Kid, go to the Bastion, which is where everyone agreed to go in case something terrible happened. When you get there, you find that only you and a lone stranger have survived, and you’re tasked with building the Bastion. As you go looking for the cores that will power the Bastion, you find Zulf and Zia, two Ura who survived the Calamity, and learn some history of the world. The Ura and humans (or Caelondians, as they’re called), were once in a war, and after the Caelondians won, the two races worked for peace. However, the Mancers (a higher council in the city of Caelondia), didn’t like that there was even a chance of war, so they started working on The Calamity. I won’t spoil all of it for those who haven’t completed the game, but there’s a few surprises thrown in there. A very solid plot, and something that definitely moves the game along at a nice pace.

Characters:

The four main characters are all very interesting. You really only hear The Stranger (real name Rucks) talk, as he narrates, but you hear about everyone through “dreams” your character has. While you don’t interact with  them aside from hearing Rucks talk about them briefly while you’re at the Bastion, the dream sequences provide from backstory for each and ives you a picture of what they were like. In that sense, you do see the characters change and grow as the game progresses, especially once you hit the halfway point. I don’t want to spoil anything since it makes the dream sequences that much more satisfying, but they all have personalities despite not really interacting with them during the game itself.

Atmosphere (Music/Graphics):

Bastion’s music is fantastic. It’s atmosphere is fantastic. Everything involving these two things are fantastic. The enemies, the world, the history – it all blends together so well. All the little things about the game where Rucks tells you the history of every level before the Calamity struck is fascinating, and really immerses you into the world of Bastion, and the music just makes it better. It goes along with every stage almost perfectly, and it’s one of those I highly recommend you purchase and give a listen to even if you haven’t played the game.

Gameplay:

There’s something to be said about, “choose your own difficulty” games. Most of them offer you really deep gameplay, and this is no exception. In Bastion, there comes a point where you find a shrine and can invoke various idols to change the difficulty. These idols range from enemies moving faster to them them becoming invisible for a short time, and the beauty of the system is you can mix and match any idols you want for a unique difficulty every time. And the more difficult the game becomes, the more experience and money you earn. It’s a satisfying system, especially since none of them (except maybe the one that causes enemies to reflect attacks) are ridiculously hard. Having all 10 idols on is definitely a challenge, however.

Now, let’s talk about weapons. You get to choose from a myriad of weapons, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, and the best part is they’re all balanced – you can use almost any combination and come out victorious, which I think is fantastic. You find the weapons as you go, showing you their strengths and weakness throughout the level. And to make sure you really see how good each weapon is, there are proving grounds for each weapons that grant you special skills for that particular weapon if you reach first prize.

And of course, the weapons can be upgraded. You can upgrade each weapon 5 times, and they’re all pretty ridiculous once they get maxed out. The BEST part about upgrading is there are two upgrades per level, and you have to choose one or the other (an example: more critical hit chance or more flat power), which makes you think about what kind of upgrades you want for the current level you’re going into.

There’s an in-game challenge system that gives you money for completing them, and that’s nice. Some of the challenges are difficult, and some you achieve as you progress. The small ones add up, though, and since the upgrades can get a little costly, it’s good money to have. Plus, it helps you master each and every weapon!

And the final part about the gameplay that I LOVE are the spirits. They’re drinks that, when consumed, grant you abilities (such as more health, life steal, etc…). Some of them grant you huge bonuses while also giving you a bad side effect, and the versatility of them allows you to mix and match spirits (you can only have so many equipped at one time) with your weapons, giving you a really unique way of fighting.

All of these things comes together to create a truly deep combat experience. I enjoyed every second of it!

If you’re looking for a game that offers you deep gameplay alongside great atmosphere, get Bastion. Get it right now since it’s only $15, which is a steal considering how great this game is. You won’t be disappointed!

Score:

Plot: 7/10

Characters: 8/10

Atmosphere: 10/10

Gameplay: 10/10

Final Score: 9/10

Oh, and the DLC for the game (a new mode and a new dream sequence) is completely free.

Just sayin’

REVIEW: Limbo

Another review! Since school’s ending (my finals week is this week!!), I’ve had a lot more time to play games, so I’ve actually been getting around to playing some of the games in my backlog. Today, I’ll be reviewing a game I purchased during Steam‘s Christmas Sale last year – Limbo.

Plot:

Let’s dive right in with me saying this: I don’t like open-ended and subtle narratives. I hate them. I like to have my narratives laid out in front of me with character as the more subtle element. That aside, Limbo’s plot is fairly simple: you know that you play a boy who is seemingly in Limbo (at least, that’s what I thought), who is looking for his sister. Although simple, that’s enough for the game to be enjoyed.

You do see a few things – a giant spider, dead humans, and even ones that are alive and hostile. What they mean, I have no idea, and this is my problem with subtle narratives – it’s all up to interpretation, and I don’t like that. The ending is the same way (and it’s rather abrupt), so you never actually find out what the story is – you’re supposed to interpret it for yourself. But, despite my distaste for these kinds of narratives, Limbo does do a really nice job setting its world and narrative up, and it really adds to the replay value for those who enjoy these kinds of narratives.

I don’t like it, but Limbo does it very well.

Atmosphere (Music/Graphics):

This is by far my favorite part of the game. Everything’s laid out to you Noir style, so you’re given only black and white, and it is stunning. The faded out backgrounds in grey, the lights and darkness at the end of puzzles, the lighting effects with blurs and shadows – all of it is simply fantastic! It really sets and maintains the mood of the game throughout the entire experience. I especially loved the character model. The few musical compositions are great, and they really invoke emotions when you do hear them since they’re during critical narrative parts of the game. Throughout most of the game, all you hear are sound effects, but those are fantastic background noise, especially once you get to the more city-like areas and you hear the gears and crackling of electricity. It was a game that I felt benefited greatly from the quietness of not really having a soundtrack.

I really can’t say anything more – you simply have to experience it yourself. I think this right here is enough of a reason to replay (and buy) the game.

Gameplay:

I was looking up plot details to see if anything official had been released (there hasn’t as far as I know), and I came across “trail and death” as a style of game, and I think this was a good way of categorizing Limbo. Some of the puzzles I died multiple times just to get the timing right, but while some may find this kind of game frustrating, I enjoy it. The checkpoints where nicely set, so I never felt like I had to do something I had just done over and over, and the difficulty wasn’t even bad – many of the puzzles were thought-provoking, and I enjoy that in a puzzle-oriented game. It definitely has replay value, but knowing the puzzles already does detract from it unless you enjoy time attacking.

Overall, Limbo delivers an excellent experience for those who enjoy puzzle games and a more subjective narrative. I would recommend it to anyone, especially since it’s so cheap! It’s indie games like this that I will continue to buy because they’re always good!

Score:

Plot: 4/10

Atmosphere: 10/10

Gameplay: 9/10

Overall: 7/10

Just sayin’.

P.S.: Limbo is currently part of the newest Humble Bundle that is out right now. It’s for a limited time, so I suggest you go get it – it’s got a ton of great games PLUS Limbo, and you get to name your price!

Go here to get it! — http://www.humblebundle.com/