A gem of a game called Bastion came out earlier this summer, and I recently finished getting all 200/200 of its achievement points. If you have an Xbox 360 or Windows PC, I highly recommend checking out the demo at the very least, and for $15, it’s easily worth its cost. Sadly, Mac OS X and Linux users are out of luck for the time being (it doesn’t seem to run under Wine).
Bastion is an action RPG, in a similar vein to the Diablo series, but the RPG mechanics are much simpler. You only have weapons and potions to worry about—there’s no armor/rings/etc. to worry about, no complicated skill trees. The set of weapons that you find throughout the game is fixed, not randomized, and you can upgrade the weapons for a cost. Potions provide passive benefits (such as increasing your chance of critical hits when low on health), and you can carry more potions as you level up.
Three things really make this game shine and put it on another level from your typical hack-n-slash game:
The narration—Logan Cunningham narrates the game, and he does a phenomenal job of it. Not only is he a great voice actor that really adds character to the game, but the narration is dynamic, based on what you do in the game. When you walk off the edge of the world for the first time, he comments “…and he falls to his death. (pause) Nah, I’m just kidding with you.” Check out the trailer videos for a sampling.
The artwork—it’s just plain gorgeous. Supergiant Games obviously put a lot of love in this one.
The adaptive difficulty level—you can make the game harder for an additional challenge. But it’s not your usual “pick easy, medium, or hard for your difficulty level and stick with that throughout the game”. Instead, the game starts off at a particular difficulty level, and when you reach a certain point in the game, you can make it harder in smaller increments.
There are 10 gods in the game, and activating each god makes the game harder in a certain way. One god makes enemies more resilient to damage, another makes them hit harder, another makes them move faster, another makes them regenerate health, yet another makes them randomly deflect attacks, and so on. Playing with more gods activated increases the risk but also the reward—you earn more experience and money by playing with more gods. This unique system makes a fantastic addition to the game.
My only complaint is that the game is too short. The “New Game Plus” feature—which allows you to replay the game after beating it, starting with all of your weapons, weapon upgrades, experience, items, etc. from the end of the game—adds some replay value, but not a huge amount. I got maybe 12-15 hours total of the game, and I’d easily pay $60 for 40+ hours of gameplay.
Bottom line: 9.5/10