Bastion may have been released on Linux over a year ago, but that doesn’t stop it being one of the best and most beautiful RPGs available for the platform.
It has regularly featured in Ubuntu’s download charts, and with good reason.
Take a selection of exceptional artwork, a pinch of phenomenal music and a sprinkle of well-crafted narrative all served in one smooth, delicious experience – and you’ll have Bastion:
The high quality cartoon graphics are all stunning hand-painted images by Jen Zee – not dissimilar to the art of Braid, in fact. You play from an isometric viewpoint, giving the feeling you’re in some graphically intense evolution of Pokémon.
Brilliantly composed music flows through the very fabric of the game. The incidental music parallels the present situation of your character, so a tight spot is accompanied by tense backing just as a restful moment is coupled with calming refrains.
Your first jump into the game will be met by a friendly, non-invasive narrator. He has a wise, calming voice and will guide you through some of your history as you awaken, gently breaking it to you that your best friend is now long dead…
After the prologue, the narrator releases you into the wild to find your own way and fend for yourself – but that won’t be the last you’ve heard of him.
Discovering the mechanics of this world was one of my favourite things about the experience: watching the ground pop into view, flying the Skyway, interacting with characters, fighting and taming creatures. It is easy to die though, so be sure to take care of your health potions as well as your weapons – you have a versatile arsenal which can be upgraded using bits and bobs you find around the fractured world.
And when I say fractured, I mean absolutely shattered. The universe has suffered a Calamity which broke the world into a million pieces. Everyone was supposed to go to the Bastion should this happen, but very few of you survived. There are only a handful of characters you will ever meet, and not all of them are trustworthy – it is your task to make the right decisions, recover Shards of the Core and restore the Bastion to its former glory.
Every resolution unfolds into a new question teasing at the edge of your mind. Sometimes you’ll unlock a new land to explore, sometimes you’ll need to go back to a level to find that one more thing, and sometimes you’ll unleash the fury of a new foe. Be prepared to lose hours of time to the wind.
There are two levels of difficulty: a ‘Normal Mode‘, and a ‘No–Sweat Mode‘ for those of you who are partial to not dying every few minutes. You can use either keyboard and mouse or a gamepad to play, and all buttons can be modified in the game settings.
Anyone can play Bastion. It starts off pretty easy with the narrator guiding you through anything new, such as building weapons and concocting potions. As you progress through the game, the pace will pick up and you will find practice and skill a necessity – but what’s a game without challenge?!
With amazing visuals, a powerful soundtrack, an intriguing storyline and a speedy battle mechanism, this is easily my favourite indie game from the last few months.
If you’re into anything from the Humble Indie Bundles, this game is probably for you. If you didn’t manage to get it when it was first released in HIB-V, you can now find it in the Ubuntu Software Centre for just $18.99.
Bastion is compatible with Linux, OSX and Windows. Buying it directly from Supergiant will get you a Steam key as well (although Bastion has not yet appeared in the list of Steam Linux games), through which you will have in-game Achievements, Leaderboards and Cloud game-saves. You can also play it on XBLA, iPad and Chrome.
Get it now from Supergiant’s own website for just $14.99.
Summary: A strong, well built multi-platform game with a lovingly crafted experience at a great price. Just what we'd like to see more of on Linux.