So… little bit late into the game, as it was released in August 2011, for Steam - but still. I, as many other players – got lured by various reviews telling this and that but all in all saying – yes, there are some flaws but the story is so good, it will make you play BF3 as a HC RPG game (the punch line saying – “so good, it will make BF3 and COD players swap games” was also in play). Yes yes, there were voices of pointing out the weaknesses of the game like saying that the game itself is not as genius as many people put it – but still overall assumption that I have gathered after reading through – is that this game will be one of those life changing events.
Well – played it.
After putting hours into the game to be frank I am quite disappointed with the story (which, as putted by many had to be the main driver of the game). I will not give any spoilers but just lest say that the plot is pretty simple and straightforward. Not coming even close to complexity of Planescape plot – just for comparison. If it would be any other game – the reviews would be much worse… the story opens at a good paste, but under normal conditions you would not see why to reveal it completely, or why to struggle with the game in the first place. If the story would be done in a short manga, that could be interesting. But like a short-indie-type-of-manga, 15 mins tops.
Visual presentation of the game is engaging for some time, personally I am not much into “cartoon” type of graphic, so for me it stopped to be visually attractive after short time. The details are worked out pretty well, but even considering the “drawing” feel of it – did not touchme on that needed level. I do not need to have Crysis type of graphic in all the games, but this felt quite static.
Game mechanics – well, nothing special really to say here, old school pentagon type of smash-it-all. This part it definitely not the strongest feature in the game, I do agree that there just are some play styles that are classical and are a good fit for particular type of games, just pointing out that it did not brought anything new.
But! Here comes the kicker – there are two features which for me made the game very different – storytelling and music! Here is where pure genius strikes! I would even dare to say that all the parts of gaming experience as I ve stated above are a supporting part for the narrative and music!
Lest start with a smaller topic – music – (done by Darren Korb – great interview with Mr. Korb on music narrative etc on Game Ost) do not listen to the tracks if you did not play the game yet. The music is a piece of art itself. It not “completes” the game (as in most cases) but it covers it, making it an experience on a totally different level.
Somewhere I have read a comment saying that Bastion would be a great game without the music and narrative – not only this is not true, this is a complete lie. It would be like Pulp Fiction with no dialogues.
Now the part that got my attention the most – Narrative. As you will read in the interview there are more than 3 000 lines of narrative in the game. The Storyteller comments your every step changing the game completely. I have never heard the same line twice through whole game! (at least i think so) . Comments to your steps are witty and funny but in that correct kind of emotional way. The structure of the texts and chosen wording are brilliant. Done in a way that makes you google them up and read again.
From my point of view the whole game is driven purely by music and mostly storytelling. This changes, otherwise “under-radar” game into a complete and complex experience.
This takes me to a slightly different topic – where are storytellers in other games? For some time not all the big releases are quite the same, you have improved features but the product is technically speaking the copy of the previous version. Similar mechanics, similar system, similar story… better graphics. The features like including a storyteller in the game are the things that make a difference.
(the Storytelling topic is so interesting that I am planning to make a separate post on it)
Overall – though the game has definitively strong parts – as music, and new features as Storytelling – for me it was not such an engaging experience. I have caught myself luring into other games putting Bastion to rest, for some time until i finally finished. But for the genuine experience of the narrative – worth playing!