The show floor at PAX this year was jam-packed with Triple-A titles. From Epic Mickey to Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood; InFamous 2 to Fallout: New Vegas; Portal 2 to Dragon Age 2; and a little gem called Dead Space 2. Which one of these badass 2010/2011 releases was the GameLounge’s official Game of the Show? None of them. To find our game of the show, you had to wander over to the PAX 10 booth, which housed 10 distinct games from independent development studios. This year the booth housed games like Shibuya, a puzzler for the iPhone and iPad and Super Meat Boy, a platformer banking on its quirky charm to bring in its audience, one game stood heads and shoulder above everything else in the booth. That game was Bastion.
[rokbox title="Bastion Trailer" thumb="http://talkingship.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/GL.PAX_.Vid_.Thumb_.jpg" size="854 505" album="demo"]http://www.youtube.com/v/mX48y24t9iU?fs=1&hl=en_US[/rokbox]
The premise of the game is simple, and fairly standard RPG faire. Your character wakes up and is unaware of anything but one thing: He knows when things are going wrong, he has to go to the Bastion. And things are definitely going wrong. The whole world has deconstructed, as you’ll come to find out, and it’s up to this boy to put it all back together.
Bastion is an isometric action-RPG game in the with a combat style similar to Zelda: A Link to the Past and a camera perspective similar to Diablo II and Torchlight. It also drew a comparison to the newer Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light in its camera style and fluidity. The very framework of the level was unique and interesting. As your character ran forward, the tiles he was to walk on were being populated from below. Every step he took, more ground appeared, with about a 20-foot radius of solid ground around him at most times. Other times, when things got really hectic, the ground was deconstructing in your character’s wake. Supergiant Games’s setup for Bastion included a headset to isolate the audio, so no audio was being played through speakers while you waited to get your shot. Watching the game being played with no audio, I thought the visuals were gorgeous, and the combat looked fun and tight.
Then I put the headset on and actually engaged in the experience. The audio in this game was just as impressive as the visual, if not more so. The music was dynamically increasing in intensity, depending on which part of the level I was in and what the situation was. There was a persistent narration that followed me through the entire length of the demo (about 15 minutes) and told the story of the game so far. The narrator even recognized when I really took it to a miniboss and spoke to how I manhandled him, and recognized when I struggled but won and noted that through the narration as well. There was even a part where I fell off a cliff, and the narrator immediately finished the sentence of exposition he was on, and said “And then he fell off a cliff and died.” My character then reappeared on the platform from which he fell, and the narrator chuckled and said “Nah, I’m just kidding.”
There is not another game like this on the market now. Bastion will be Supergiant Games’s first release, and they look like they’re off and running on it. It is scheduled for release in 2011, and will be a downloadable title on multiple platforms. Likely XBLA, PC, and PS3, but I saw no commitments one way or the other. One thing’s for sure: However it is available upon release, I’ll be downloading it day one. Keep your eyes open for Bastion, it is an early frontrunner for Downloadable Game of the Year next year, and was the GameLounge’s Game of PAX.