Review: Bastion (XBLA)

“There’s like a kid who wakes up and everyone’s dead and the world is gone.” That was how my husband described Bastion to me.
“Ew.” Was my response. “That sounds terrible and sad and not like a game at all.”
“I guess I can see that. It is pretty sad… Meh, try it,” he said, handing me the controller.
I settled in and tried it.

Immediately I was sucked into the story of The Kid as narrated by the old man with a voice made for storytelling. The Kid and I had the same questions: What happened? Where’d everyone go? Where’d the world go? For the saddest premise in the world I jumped into Bastion feeling motivated and curious.
The controls were intuitive and the game was forgiving while I acclimated myself to my new surroundings. “The Kid just raged for a while,” The Narrator said, prompting me to move on from smashing all the boxes, objects, and general scenery as is customary in semi-similar action games. I found it easy to defeat my enemies as my ability was scaled proportionally with theirs. As the story unfolded and I learned about The Kid, Caelondia, and The Calamity that got us to the world as it is.  I fought slow moving enemies with slow weapons until I able to choose between brute force and speed. Eventually I was able to upgrade certain aspects of my gameplay using potions from the Liquor Store[1. It was called something more clever but it sold potion upgrades that were named to sound like liquor. eg.: Were Whiskey].
Your goal is to fight your way through The Wilds (levels) and collect Shards  to build up The Bastion, a mysterious situation that is the solution to the Calamity according to the narrator who clearly isn’t telling you the whole story.
The whole story is really what makes the game. While I was playing because it was a game I stuck with it because I wanted to  get to the end of the story– and I was the one who would get there. The Kid falls because I fall and he continues on because I continued on. Somehow Supergiant Games too that evocative part of books and movies and campfire stories and brought it to an action-adventure game.
All parts of the game worked harmoniously from the controls to the story to the design to the music[2. The music is unbearably AMAZING in this game. I normally don’t even notice but there were levels I didn’t want to finish for fear of never hearing the song again.] I was immersed.
I rarely finish games, I know “boo” “hiss,” I just get done playing before the game is done and if there isn’t enough of a story I don’t care if I don’t know how it ends. This game, I needed to know and I enjoyed playing. One of my few grips with Bastion was at one point I realized the forward motion of the story slight over shadowed the fact that it is in fact a video game: Once you complete a level you can’t go back to it. There was a level that I accidentally completed because the finish the level button and the attack button were the same and I happened to be standing by the exit… So i was done, never to complete that level to my satisfaction again until my second play through.
Overall, I would emphatically recommend Bastion as a game, story, or album.
[rating:4.5/5]
Check out some on the beautiful screenshots:

Entertaining the kids

Coming off the Christmas holidays, my older daughter’s school has a few random days off in January. My younger daughter gets to stay home those days, and I unfortunately get no work done. (Unless I want to work at midnight, which I usually have to do in order to meet my deadlines. Yay.)
Those are also the days when I have to come up with new and creative ways to entertain my daughters. Since Christmas wasn’t that long ago, I can’t just plunk them down in front of the craft box, because they’d just spent two weeks digging around in there to find random things with which to decorate the walls.
At some point during the day, I run out of things to do, they get bored with their toys, and everybody ends up watching “Yo Gabba Gabba.”
This, of course, leads me to wonder how the hell we’ll entertain the kidlets come the post apocalypse. I’m sure that in the immediate aftermath of the end of the world, nobody’s going to care that there are a bunch of kids running around whining about being bored, because there probably won’t be any kids running around whining about being bored.
And if there are, I’m sure you could just point them in the direction of a collapsing building and tell them to find things for you. If you present it like a game, it will be fun and exciting. And dangerous, which will make it even more fun and exciting.
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Zombies grow in your neighborhood in Fleck

Fleck is an new in-browser game by Self Aware Games about defending your territory from the most adorable zombies ever.
You sign up, choose an avatar with a vague resemblance to you, and designate a location. You can situate yourself in you actual home or anywhere else in the United States. Locations are generated using Google Maps integration.
Your avatar makes an effort to live and in their own little private Idaho or Bel Air, where you choose to live by building a house and growing a garden. Unfortunately, zombies in the Fleck universe also grow in gardens and “zombies hate plants.”
During the introduction of the game, a knowledgeable avatar walks you through the steps of surviving the zombie infested landscape of the Fleck dimension.
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