Tag Archive: bastion

Looking to avoid a sophomore slump, the guys over at Supergiant Games, creators of the smash hit Bastion, have a cyperpunk dream come true ready to deliver early in 2014 on PS4 (and potentially other systems). We had a chance to catch up with the studio’s creative director, Greg Kasavin, for a few minutes to get a more in-depth look at what makes Transistor tick.

EGM: What was some of the inspirations for Transistor’s cyberpunk theme?

Greg Kasavin: It’s always tough pinning down our inspirations, as we take sort of a melting-pot approach on our team, drawing from many different sources and media across all different aspects of the game. Where it started was, we really enjoyed creating the fantasy-themed world for our first game Bastion, and wanted to see what we could come up with in the science fiction genre this time around. While we were initially drawn to the cyberpunk aesthetic, we systematically rejected just about all the conventions, from the flowing trench coats to the pouring rain to the fat magnum pistols and so on. It’s not that we dislike these things — rather, we think they’ve been done really well elsewhere already, and it’s very important to us to find our own identity with our games. So we ended up with this romanticized, anachronistic-feeling city with some vintage qualities and some futuristic qualities as well. Jen Zee our art director took influence from the Art Nouveau movement of the early 20th century for aspects of the visual style, and we also looked to aspects of the late ’60s and ’70s when thinking about the game’s world. But that’s just one example. It takes us a while to distill all our ideas into something concrete, and the result contains influences from many different games and all sorts of different media from different eras.

EGM: I know there is a huge focus on Red’s voice being missing. Can you tell us a bit more about that?

GK: We were interested in the idea of a silent protagonist who was silent for reasons tied to the story, and having her paired up with another character with the opposite problem — his body is gone and all that’s left of him is his voice. We thought it would be interesting to explore this type of relationship through a game and let players get close to that relationship through their actions. I don’t want to say too much more about it since the story is very much about these characters and how they got into this situation, and what they’re going to do about it now. In Red’s case, we reveal early on that she was an up-and-coming star in this world, so the loss of her voice might be even worse for her than it would be for most people.

EGM: Tell us more about the unique combo system. Not only does Red have special attacks assigned to the face buttons, but she can stop time. Can you explain to us how it all works together?

GK: Red is having a very bad evening at the start of the game though the one consolation is that she discovers this extraordinary weapon called the Transistor. It turns out to have a variety of powerful functions, and one of them essentially lets her stop the entire world around her, plan her next set of actions, then execute them in a supercharged fashion. This is a core aspect of play, as we wanted to create a strategic and thoughtful feel to the action despite the simple-to-use controls. So, at almost any time you can use this ability to turn the tables, get out of a tight spot, overwhelm a particular opponent, and so on. We liked how open-ended it felt and wanted to create a deep-feeling system that provided a lot of natural drama. The exciting thing about planning is that plans sometimes don’t go over exactly as expected, and then you need to quickly re-evaluate the situation and make the best of it.

EGM: How hard is it to balance the combat between real-time and preventing players from just spamming the time stop ability?

GK: We were really interested in capturing the sensation of strategic and tactical games in the context of an action RPG, so finding the right balance between the real-time action and the ability to stop and plan was one of the central design challenges while we were prototyping. The strategic planning mode is very powerful though you quickly find it’s not to be used recklessly, since it leaves you vulnerable for several seconds after you use it. In this way there’s a natural incentive to use it wisely, to make sure you’re out of harm’s way at the end point of your plan. Likewise, some abilities or encounters may be easier or quicker if you duke it out in real time. We don’t want to force the planning mode onto players, we want them to discover it for themselves and decide when and how best to use it. On Bastion we were tweaking and tuning that game down to the very end of development, and I expect we’ll do the same with Transistor, though we’re happy with where that balance stands at the moment!

If you want more information about Transistor from Greg and the gang at Supergiant Games, be sure to pick up issue #260 of EGM available on newsstands now!

A new child of the atom

I think it’s every geek’s dream to develop superpowers in some way. And so like moths to flame we are drawn to games where we can not only play as our favorite heroes but can craft our own personal character in the universes we have come to enjoy through various forms of media. So as a diehard X-Men fan, I was particularly stoked about the release of ­­X-Men Destiny.

Based in the X-Men universe, this is an original story line inspired by, but having no direct tie-in to, the ongoing monthly comics from Marvel. You play as one of three new mutants attending a peace rally in San Francisco as the relationship between human and mutant grows more strained by the day. After an apparent attack on the crowd by Magneto causes panic to spread amongst the crowd, your powers manifest as you attempt to defend yourself. As you learn about your newfound abilities, you’ll uncover a conspiracy that will shake the mutant world to its very core, all the while you make and break alliances with both the X-Men and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.

The anticipation I had for this game’s release was soon replaced by disappointment. The best way I could describe how X-Men Destiny was that it felt incomplete. The game is riddled with glitches, has an inconsistent checkpoint save system that sometimes places saves right on top of one another or places them at opposite ends of levels and makes you replay the whole thing over if you die, and the plot, quite simply, is just too damn short for a proper X-Men game, no matter how well written it may be. I beat the entire thing, on the hardest difficulty, in less than eight hours.

I was also displeased with the three character stories and power choices we were forced into. Instead of letting the player truly craft a character they could relate to, you are forced into one of three outlandish protagonists and follow their story as it unfolds. Since many action/adventure games actually do this, it’s not the concept that bothers me, its the fact that the game tries to sell itself as an RPG that gives you a lot of choice and this is simply not the case. And to make matters worse, the few choices you are given are so spread out throughout the game that you never reach your full potential until the very final level of the game. And again, this goes back to the length of the game. Just when you seem to start hitting your stride with whatever powers you were pigeonholed into, it ends.

Mind you, there are some positives to X-Men Destiny. The plot, written by X-Men: Legacy writer Mike Carey, is worthy of the X-Men universe and features cameos or the chance to fight alongside many of your favorite characters while taking on classic X-Men threats. Whether you choose to be good and trade quips with Iceman against the Purifiers or be bad and burn stuff to the ground with Pyro in a U-Men bunker, when the game has you working with your favorite characters on the missions, you actually feel, albeit briefly most of the time, like an X-Man.

The audio was also very good as the music helped set a mood worthy of an action game and the voice acting was superb. Nolan North, better known as Deadpool in most other X-Media, came on to do Cyclops and surprised me as the stoic and steadfast leader of the X-Men. Include other voice over royalty like Phil LaMarr as Gambit and Forge, Yuri Lowenthal as Nightcrawler, Jason Marsden as Iceman, Fred Tatasciore as Juggernaut, and Steve Blum returning to reprise Wolverine and the voice over work in this game is as good as any other cast of X-characters represented in animation or other games.

Still, as good as it felt to fight alongside some of my favorite comic book heroes in this game, there are just too many shortcomings to make X-Men Destiny as special as many of the characters it features. My recommendation is that the game is worth a rental, but is only worthy of purchase by the most diehard of X-Men fans who will play through it several times, despite the glitches, and try to collect the several dozen collectibles featured in the game.

SUMMARY: Short, glitch-riddled, and lacking the choices of a true RPG, X-Men Destiny falls short of the high expectations of most X-Men fans and should only be checked out by the most forgiving of souls.

  • THE GOOD: Fighting alongside many of your favorite heroes from the comics
  • THE BAD: A surprising lack of choice given to the player for an RPG
  • THE UGLY: A lack of polish shows up often considering how short the game is

SCORE: 6.0

Originally Published: July 19, 2011, on EGMNOW.com

Game Name: Bastion

By: Ray Carsillo

Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Developer: Supergiant Games
Platforms: XBLA

The Good: Old school RPG dungeon crawl feel with new stylized design twists to keep it fresh
The Bad: “Quests” can become repetitive
The Ugly: The game is more linear than most RPG fans may like

Most gamers nowadays don’t have the time to devote to a 40-hour dungeon crawl like Dragon Age. Well, those gamers out there who have been looking for a more casual dungeon crawl may finally have the answer they’ve been looking for with the first entry into this year’s Xbox Summer of Arcade: Bastion.

Bastion is a real-time combat RPG with a top down hack ‘n’ slash-style flare reminiscent of Gauntlet Legends. You play as “The Kid”, a young adult who has seen his share of hardship and finds himself as one of the last living beings in his world after a great calamity has wiped out all he’s known and loved. Planning for such an event, his people built the great Bastion that was to serve as a protective meeting place should the need arise, but even that is in shambles and must be rebuilt by “The Kid” and other survivors.

Bastion succeeds in finding a balance between keeping the action quick and simple, but also providing an engaging enough story to make you feel you should have a vested interest in the characters. Part of what makes you care is every action you take in the world is described “live” by the story’s narrator and it compels you to continue on even when the game’s dozen or so levels start to feel repetitive. The narrator also helps to set the atmosphere of the game as you can actually feel your heartstrings tug as you walk up to less-fortunate citizens who have been petrified, akin to real life victims of Vesuvius in Pompeii millennia ago. Turned to ash almost instantaneously, but preserved, frozen in charcoal, the narrator talks about who they once were as you come across them and it is the most haunting graveyard you may find in a game.

The only real drawback I found to Bastion is the overall lack of choices you have. Many of the levels are unlocked one right after the other and so with your path already laid out before you, there isn’t anything story-wise beyond your weapons selection and leveling up bonuses for you to directly influence. Despite this, Bastion is one of the more replay-able RPGs I’ve seen, as there are weapon challenges, three horde mode-like levels with 20 waves of enemies, and several side-quests that may prompt you to go replay levels. All in all, with a terrific plot, tremendous atmosphere, and solid game play, Bastion is another title in the long list of stellar downloadable games that have been part of Xbox’s Summer of Arcade.

Score: 9.5