Bastion Previews

A couple of new previews for Supergiant Games' XBLA and PC action-RPG Bastion have popped up in the last few days, which so far seems to be doing a good job at distinguishing itself from the competition.

XBLA Fans:
Bastion is an action RPG set in a colorful isometric fantasy world. The screens you've seen around the internet don't do the game justice; with the ever-changing vibrant world of Bastion, post-apocalyptia never looked so good. The beautiful hand-drawn landscapes and characters look like a combination of Braid and Final Fantasy Tactics. Even though we'd seen the gameplay footage of the world building itself around you, doing it for ourselves was awesome. Every step revealed another surprise.

It wasn't just the dynamic landscape that had us hooked. The environments are full of destructible elements and we were very excited when we finally reached the eponymous Bastion and were charged with rebuilding it in whatever way we saw fit.

And then there's the narration. We loved experiencing the reactive narration in person, experimenting to see how far we could push the boundaries and how many different comments we could elicit. The tremendous voice acting is done by Logan Cunningham, who manages to evoke this gritty film noir style that subtlely changes the mood throughout the game. Never heard of him? We were surprised when Amir Rao, Director at Supergiant Games, laughed and told us, (Yeah. That's an old friend of mine. He actually sounds nothing like that in real life.)

Ars Technica focuses on the much touted dynamic narration:
Actually, that may be the wrong word. Kasavin wanted to sure assure us that the narration was provided by a character, not just a voice. Here's how one of our favorite games at E3 became great.

"During development, whenever the narration did not enhance the play experience of Bastion, we would cut it. While we ended up cutting hundreds of lines, we kept thousands. We heavily iterated on this and other aspects of the game to get it to feel right," Supergiant Games' Greg Kasavin told Ars.

It wasn't just a matter of getting the dialogue right there had to be a kind of flow to the narration. It couldn't simply be a voice that is constantly yammering away into your ear. This may sound obvious, but it takes a tremendous amount of work to create something that seems easy. "We set a bunch of ground rules around our use of narration in order to ensure it achieved the effect we wanted," Kasavin explained.

"For one thing, none of the lines ever repeat unless the player repeats certain content or replays the game, though even then we tend to mix it up to some extent. For another, from a writing standpoint, the narration is never relegated to play-by-play commentary, and instead is always there to deepen the player's interactions in the world, by revealing information the player could not have discerned on his own even if it's about the narrator's own personality," he continued. "The narrator is a character, not just a voice."