Narrators are a strange thing in games. When they do appear, it is often only in cutscenes. In fact, aside from the occasional “meanwhile, at the big bad’s hideout”, they are quite an oddity in the medium. In Bastion, though, the narrator is the first–and only–voice that the game uses to relate the plot to the player.
Throughout the game, the ever-present voice of “The Stranger” narrates both the plot and the gameplay. Do well, and he speaks of how nothing can bother you; do badly, and he describes how you were given trouble but managed to scrape through. This slightly detached interplay between the game and the player is surprisingly effective at drawing you into the game. It also makes easy work of providing information to the player.
Though the narrator is probably the most memorable thing in the game, the visuals themselves are nothing to forget. The whole game carries the feel of a watercolor painting.
The game itself takes place in a world destroyed by an unknown “Calamity”. Bits and piece of the world rise up to form a makeshift platform as you move about, but the world itself is largely inhabited by monsters that have survived the end and now overrun the places that used to be. The “rebuilding” of the world as you move around provides a beautiful symmetry with the central plot of trying to collect the bits and pieces of the old world necessary to repair it.
As a game, Bastion is something of a two-stick shooter. Though different from many other games in this category in that the pace tends to be much more relaxed and the available space for movement limited. If one were just take a glace, it would seem much like any other isometric action game. The depth of gameplay, though, mostly comes from the large supply of weapons that the game has on offer. The game only lets you bring a pair with you into each level, so it forces a choice based on what you expect to face and which weapons you’ve managed to become skillful with. Even so, most all of the weapons are very useful and none of them ever really become useless, even as more are unlocked.
Overall, the game is quite good. My only real complaint is that the game can easily overwhelm you with enemies–especially if you crank up the difficulty. Nevertheless, I recommend the game quite highly.