BENGALURU: If I had to pick a game of the year for 2020, Hades would be my choice. However, it didn’t spring from Supergiant Games fully formed — it’s the culmination of nearly a decade’s worth of work and quality games. Today, we’re taking a look back at the game that kicked it all off for Supergiant back in 2011 — Bastion.
What do you do if everything you’ve ever known comes crashing down? That’s the central question behind Bastion. You play as the Kid, one of the few survivors of a mysterious calamity that destroyed much of the world; including the city of Caelondia, the Kid’s home.
Without much in the way of options, you head to the Bastion — a sort of safehouse where people were supposed to go in case of emergency. And you continue from there, heading out into the fractured world, sometimes literally picking up the pieces, and trying to figure out how to keep the Bastion going and what caused the Calamity.
If you go by premise alone, you might think that Bastion doesn’t sound too different from other post-apocalyptic tales, and you wouldn’t be wrong; it’s the execution that truly sets Bastion apart and makes it one of the best games I’ve ever played.
Let’s start with one of the most important aspects of Bastion, and likely one of the first you’ll notice — the narrator. Voiced by the indescribably excellent Logan Cunningham, the narrator doesn’t just narrate the cutscenes — he narrates almost everything you do. Bastion is the Kid’s story — your story — and that’s the story the narrator tells; not perfectly, not reliably, sometimes unwillingly, but tell it he does.
The Kid never speaks, which leaves the narrator to be the voice of his actions as well as of the world he’s trying to rebuild. At the time, there simply wasn’t any other game that had a narrative mechanic done quite like this; since then, Supergiant have revisited the concept in later games but Bastion remains, for me, the pinnacle.
However, Bastion’s aural excellence doesn’t end there — Darren Korb, years before his starring role as Prince Zagreus in Hades, turns in a once-in-a-lifetime performance as a composer and the result is quite simply one of the finest gaming soundtracks I’ve ever heard.
It’s hard to describe how good the music is because you really need to be playing the game as well, but the two merge together perfectly. As the Kid, you’ll alternate between leisurely exploring the ruins of the world and frantically running/dodging for your life, and the music ebbs and flows in a seductive rhythm to match.
In my opinion, the hallmark of a great game soundtrack is that you should want to listen to it years after you finished the game; as I can confirm after going back to it earlier today, Bastion’s soundtrack easily delivers on that front.
Excellence is par for the course with Bastion. I haven’t even spoken about the addictive isometric gameplay yet, with its wonderful implementation of shooting and melee combat. Or its phenomenal artwork and graphic design. Or...there’s too much to talk about here. To sum it up, Bastion just knocks it out of the park on every opportunity and it’s well worth returning to today.
So the most awaited game release of the last decade, give or take a few others, wound up being buggy and unplayable for many. ‘Oof’ doesn’t begin to cover it — you’ve got to go back to Diablo III for the last time a launch went this badly. Spare a thought for the poor guys at CD Projekt Red, who’ve poured their lives into this game for the last eight years.
It’s been a long, hard year for so many reasons that it feels like a genuine relief that we’re done with it. As good a year as this has been for games, it’s safe to say that that’s not what it’ll be remembered for! Still, here’s to better days on the horizon.