Game Of The Years (GOTY 2011): Best Downloadable Game – Bastion
Indie games are a rather weird bunch because they start down low and, once they achieve success, they tend to leave the very category of independent releases that they sprang out of.
This being said Bastion is one of the best video games to be launched this year and certainly the most surprising from the legion of small games that were delivered via Xbox Live and PlayStation Network.
The main achievement of Bastion is the narrative and not just the actual story, thought it can be heartbreaking and is smothered in melancholy, but the way it is delivered.
A narrator talks over the actions of the main character, commenting on his progress but without actually staying true to what he does.
This creates a disconnect between what happens on the screen and what the narrator says which spins a web of possibilities around the gamer, encouraging replays but, most importantly, creating a sense of uncertainty that makes the entire story more poignant.
Apart from the narrative Bastion delivers crisp, easy to pick up and use game mechanics, with some cool options when it comes to how the battles can be approached and some neat modifiers for those who crave more of a challenge.
The graphics and the audio are also pretty minimalist but revealing and mesh well with the style of the game and events described.
Bastion can be a bit repetitive at times, especially for those who are interested in trying out the challenge islands, but thankfully the entire game is not punishingly long and the final payoff is really worth the time spent.
Bastion can be played on the Xbox Live service from Microsoft or on the PC using Steam and the developers have already said that they are not planning to add any more content to the game so this might be the only chance to see this unique blend of style and substance in action.
GOTY 2011: Best Downloadable Game – Bastion