Ten years ago, I installed Bastion on my Xbox 360. I was 15 and was a complete dumbass – only one of those things has changed, and if you’re aware of the inevitable passage of time, you can probably guess which one.
For a few hours, however, as I walked vicariously along the decadent and desolate paths of Calamity-ravaged Caelondia like The Kid, I wasn’t as dumb as during the few hours on either side of that time. Bastion is one of the most heartfelt games I’ve ever played – ten years after its launch, it looks more like a masterpiece than ever.
Bastion was one of my first indie games. I played and loved Braid before that, and was fascinated by brutally hard platform games like Super Meat Boy and incredibly innovative puzzles like Fez. Yes, I watched Indie Game: The Movie and felt inspired to play something other than Call of Duty, Halo, or Fifa – I don’t know a lot of people who naturally came into contact with indies in the midst of their time. adolescence. Bastion was the first game of its kind that I chose for myself – it was never recommended to me, I never read anything about it, and the names attached to it were foreign to the 15 year old idiot Cian. I think it was the name – ‘Bastion’ – that piqued my interest the most. ” What is that ? ” I asked myself. “Of course it’s raining outside and the football is canceled – I’m going to give it a shot. ”
I have replayed Bastion several times since. I think my last experience with this was during a trip to Tokyo with a close friend of mine in 2019. I had told my younger brother that I would go buy him a Nintendo Switch Lite because they were considerably cheaper in Japan, but it was about three weeks between my adventure in Akihabaran and catching a flight to Dublin. I thought it would be a good idea to install a few games for him so that they were ready to go as soon as I gave it to him – really, at the time, I had no intention of playing anything. it would be. I was too busy wandering the streets of Golden Gai, listening to System of a Down in cramped bars with cold Asahi. But then I saw it – Bastion for two pounds. “It’s been years,” I said to myself. “What’s wrong with having a little look, eh?” ”
About five hours later my friend was like, here, Cian, where are you really at? We’re halfway around the world and you’re snuggled up in a cheap mashed button mashed hostel bunk bed. He was right. I could play Bastion anytime I wanted – we would catch a flight to Osaka about two days later, in which case a short, compact, and brilliant little odyssey like this would be perfect. But again, Bastion is a masterpiece. It’s not something you can really look away from. You can’t ignore the post-apocalyptic storytelling of Logan Cunningham’s Tom Waits, each word sounding like the grizzled grunt of a sensitive cigar drenched in whiskey. You can’t play with a new weapon, a new way to walk through this world and put your own distinctive mark on it, and then say, “Okay, it’s time to go to bed.”
The reason Bastion is so durable is that, like all Supergiant games, it’s as close to perfect as a video game can get. It’s tonally cohesive, logically solid, and atmospherically cohesive to an astonishing degree. I’m convinced that criticism is immeasurably important – it’s my job, hey – but criticizing this game in an honest way with what I think is no small feat. I don’t really see the traditional way of reviewing games – or any art for that matter – particularly effective, slowly descending a list of arbitrary, indexed metrics. I’m more intrigued by how a game makes me or other people feel – how we respond to it, what we get out of it, what are the most lasting lasting impressions at the end. With Bastion, I was blown away, both as an asshole teenager and as a twentysomething asshole. Ten years from now, when Bastion turns 20, I’ll play him like a mid-30s jerk and my brain will backflip again until it spontaneously explodes.
I could talk about art. I could talk about music – The Pantheon always slams, and when the themes of Zulf and Zia combine for Setting Sail, Coming Home, you’re struck by what is probably the best use of music in a game yet. I could talk about combat, characters and the Calamitous world. Ultimately, however, people reading this are either aware of all of these from having played Bastion before, or should experience them for themselves without any sort of premonition or predilection.
Bastion is ten years old today. Since then, Supergiant has launched hit after hit, with Transistor, Pyre and Hades all establishing themselves as independent darlings beloved by critics and fans alike. But all the DNA that makes a Supergiant game emphatically – a Supergiant game – goes back to Bastion, a wonderful little text that played a huge role in shaping the gaming industry as we know it. If you have never done so, I urge you to change this immediately. If you’ve got – well, you already know how good it is, don’t you? Reinstall it and crack again tonight – Rucks is waiting for you.
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