I like stories!
If you've read some of my other articles, you'll see that I'm no stranger to story and liking stories in games. But I love the different types of storytelling that pervade the video game entertainment industry. The medium of games is such that they are a brilliant platform to entertain, tell a great story, educate on certain issues if you have to and most of all they provide escapism into worlds we might not ever see otherwise.
From the flashback (framed narrative) style storytelling of Dragon Age 2, the epic storytelling in the highly cinematic Gears of War 3, to the clever tales woven in Uncharted 2 (we can't say about 3 yet since it's not out, but we expect good things), all of these games take storytelling into different directions. Yet there's a game that I haven't mentioned yet, because I'm saving the game till now.
Bastion! We never got a chance to do a review of this one, but I bought the game regardless and it's such a great game. Bastion's take on storytelling is one of the most refreshing things I've seen in games for a long time, combining excellent retro-style visuals and animation with Logan Cunningham's player-driven narrator, Bastion weaves a complex and intelligent story that tells of a world that's fallen and the fight to take charge of the future.
Yet there's not one cut-scene of over the top epic action or Hollywood style cinematic powerhouse heart-stopping CGI. Not as though there's anything wrong with that kind of storytelling in games. No, Bastion lets you, as the player; control the story by narrating what you do with a voice that can be described as decidedly Wild West (not Wild Wild West) in timbre. Logan Cunningham has an amazing old-geezer style voice for his narrator and with that voice you learn about the world in Bastion, the characters and your own kid's personal journey.
The game takes you on a fantastic journey as you discover the world, the people around you and the reason for the Calamity. Not only this, the way the game can end also makes perfect sense when you play it again. You start to see things that the developers put in, in a new light; you make connections and understand some of the subtler parts of the story. Again, it's a fresh approach that stands head to head with the big titles, and provides a rich atmosphere to the game.
Rather than provide an in-game map, Bastion also weaves that very mechanic into the game world itself. You see the Calamity is the map; the world builds underfoot with every tentative step that the kid takes, coming to life as he moves from location to location and always leading you on to the next part of the game and the story. There's room for exploration here but it doesn't get in the way of the game, not like a certain AI dog we might rib a certain Peter guy about.
Even the monsters in the game are woven into the story, expertly made part of the game world and beyond the orcs and goblins of traditional fantasy, these gasfellas and the like are actually something I started to give a damn about, even though I was unfortunately setting them on fire and shooting them with teeth. Yeah, Bastion's weapon set is just as eclectic as the game itself, and again, woven into the story of the world.
In fact there isn't an element of Bastion that is not woven into the story of the world, it's a great place to explore and for an indie game its right up there with triple-A titles in my book.
If you haven't given Bastion a go, do so.