E3 2011: Hands-On Preview of Bastion
We’ve been following Summer of Arcade’s Bastion since last summer, when we first saw the game’s official trailer. Imagine our excitement when we got our greedy gamer paws on Supergiant’s playable demo at E3. With vibrant environments, intuitive gameplay, and excellent voiceacting, Bastion is shaping up to be everything we ever hoped for—and more.
In case you haven’t been keeping up, the premise of Bastion is simple: a young hero awakes to find himself in the midst of a post-apocalyptic world that needs saving. He saves it by rebuilding it—and by searching for a safe haven called Bastion. Simple as that sounds, it’s only the beginning.
Bastion is an action RPG set in a colorful isometric fantasy world. The screens you’ve seen around the internet don’t do the game justice; with the ever-changing vibrant world of Bastion, post-apocalyptia never looked so good. The beautiful hand-drawn landscapes and characters look like a combination of Braid and Final Fantasy Tactics. Even though we’d seen the gameplay footage of the world building itself around you, doing it for ourselves was awesome. Every step revealed another surprise.
It wasn’t just the dynamic landscape that had us hooked. The environments are full of destructible elements and we were very excited when we finally reached the eponymous Bastion and were charged with rebuilding it in whatever way we saw fit.
And then there’s the narration. We loved experiencing the reactive narration in person, experimenting to see how far we could push the boundaries and how many different comments we could elicit. The tremendous voice acting is done by Logan Cunningham, who manages to evoke this gritty film noir style that subtlely changes the mood throughout the game. Never heard of him? We were surprised when Amir Rao, Director at Supergiant Games, laughed and told us, “Yeah. That’s an old friend of mine. He actually sounds nothing like that in real life.”
Much has been made of this reactive narration—a constant commentary that dynamically reacts to the choices made by the player. When we fell off the map, we were greeted by a dry response of “kid better watch his step.” Defeating enemies, taking damage, destroying random crates… all of these actions earned us a different flavor of narration. It was a seamless mix of tutorial, character development, storytelling, and atmosphere that made us crave more. (Read more about the narration in our interview with Supergiant’s Greg Kasavin.)
Gameplay-wise, the controls were responsive and intuitive. During our demo, we started out with the Cael Hammer, Fang Repeater, and Breaker’s Bow, then took a look at the War Machete, Scrap Musket, and Brusher’s Pike.
It felt great to be able to execute combat moves with such speed and precision; Bastion‘s combat is all about finesse and personalization. Weapons (and your hero) can be leveled up with special abilities and more weapons unlock as the story progresses. Guns, blades, crossbows—there isn’t a defined time period to the game, so it’s all up for grabs. You decide what strategies and weapons are best suited to your play style.
That idea of choice is what’s ultimately so appealing about Bastion. We left E3 feeling like we had experienced a unique version of the game that no one else saw. The way the world was built, the way the story was told, and the weapons and abilities we used… everything was part of a special concatenation created by the relationship we experienced between player and game. And for a simple Summer of Arcade title, that’s a promising preview.
Follow all the latest Bastion news on the Supergiant Games site.