BastionI picked up Bastion as part of the Humble Indie Bundle V in early April 2012. It’s a two-dimensional isometric action RPG. You play “the Kid”. A catastrophic event, referred to as The Calamity, has broken the city of Caelondia. As a survivor, you head to the Bastion, where everyone is supposed to go in times of trouble. Once there you find Rucks, apparently the only other survivor, and you being the adventurous sort he sends you off on the Skyway to other remnants of the city and surrounding lands to find the cores with can be used to power the Bastion and rebuild.

The first thing you encounter in this game is the narrator, which you learn quite quickly is Rucks. But what makes the narrator awesome is that unlike other games where narration fires off based on events or locations – i.e. you cross a certain doorway and a block of narration kicks in telling you about the place you’ve just entered – it is also based on your actions. When you first get into the game, your character is in bed. If you do nothing, nothing happens, but the moment you move the controls and the Kid gets up, the narrator fires off something like “the Kid gets out of bed”. Later, when I was in a room full of boxes, taking my time to destroy them all and collect the items the game uses for money, the narrator said, “the Kid rages around, destroying everything in his path” or something close to it. If you double back on your path too many times it might say, “the Kid wasn’t sure where he was going, but he was getting there fast”. If you run past enemies rather than fighting them you might get a “the Kid was moving fast, no looking back”. It adds an element to the game that other narrations don’t simply because the narration is based on my actions (or lack thereof) and not just my location.

Being an RPG means that you have to level and upgrade your character. You get to improve your weapons, adding extra abilities and special properties, as well as equip the Kid with things that improve him directly. And it wouldn’t be an RPG without choices, so you only get to have two weapons and one special attack at a time, which you can swap out at an armory. To augment this, in addition to the normal game levels, there are a series of Proving Grounds designed for each weapon where you can practice using them as well as earn more bonuses by beating the third, second and first place goals. I really like this mechanic that lets me step out of the story and go play a little, improving both my skill at the game as well as earning new upgrades to my weapons.

The art style of the game is beautiful. Sometimes I just want to stare at the screen. Most of the game play shots below were actually taken during my second play through, in the New Game Plus mode where you get to keep your levels and everything from the regular game, because I was too busy enjoying the game, the play and the graphics, to remember to hit the F12 key.

I made it through the first run through in a little over 11 hours, which feels about right for the story. It never got boring, the pace never dragged, and I never needed to needlessly grind out cash. That last point is important. Being an RPG, you have to buy stuff – weapon upgrades and skills and such – and while you don’t earn enough money to buy everything, you also don’t need everything to finish the game.

As I said above, once you finish the first play through you get the option to do it again while keeping your previous levels, meaning you’ll be able to finish buying everything and get to level 10 – I only got to 6 the first time around. I look forward to continuing playing the game, getting all the items and seeking to get the Steam achievements.

Another great element of the game is the music. Instrumentals, songs with voices & lyrics. When I got the game I also got the soundtrack, which can be purchased through Steam, and it’s good enough that I’m certain I will listen to it even outside of game.

All in all, from top to bottom, I really enjoyed Bastion and would recommend it to others. What a great little game. Now, before I go, enjoy these screenshots. Be warned, a few of the artistic cut scene shots might be considered spoilers.

To play, perchance to game!

Perchance To GameThe voting went well. I’m playing Bastion now, and if you are friends with me on Steam you’ve probably seen and will continue to see me sharing screenshots. I’ve also begun writing about the game, making sure I jot down my feelings as I go rather than try to do it all at the end. Most importantly, though, I’m playing.

I hadn’t realized how much I missed gaming. Going through these Humble Bundle games is going to be great fun. But in additional to that, I’ve still got a bunch of Xbox games and other non-Bundle games to play. I need to start kicking more TV shows to the curb and playing more games!

Anyway, this post also serves to just say that voting is still open, so you can still help me set my next game, and the game after that, and the game after that, and so on… And there will be more polls in the future, because I would be insane to have installed an plug-in for WordPress to just use once.

Choose My Adventure

Supercomputer-CYOAI am addicted to the Humble Bundles. I have bought them all and played none of them. I always intend to play them, but now I am faced with a giant list of games and no way to decide for myself which one to start with. So, dear readers, I turn to you.

Please take a moment, check out this list and vote for as many as 5 games. The game with the most votes will be the one that I play first, then the one with the next most, and so on, until I run out of games or feel the need to post another poll. As incentive, I promise to review each game that I play, thus giving you more things to read at this blog.

Which game should I play next?

  • Torchlight (13%, 6 Votes)
  • Psychonauts (9%, 4 Votes)
  • Amnesia: The Dark Descent (7%, 3 Votes)
  • Braid (7%, 3 Votes)
  • Dungeons of Dredmor (7%, 3 Votes)
  • Space Pirates and Zombies (4%, 2 Votes)
  • VVVVVV (4%, 2 Votes)
  • Legend of Grimrock (4%, 2 Votes)
  • Super Meat Boy (4%, 2 Votes)
  • Cortex Command (4%, 2 Votes)
  • Gratuitous Space Battles (4%, 2 Votes)
  • Darwinia (4%, 2 Votes)
  • TRAUMA (4%, 2 Votes)
  • Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP (4%, 2 Votes)
  • Jamestown (2%, 1 Votes)
  • Osmos (2%, 1 Votes)
  • LIMBO (2%, 1 Votes)
  • Frozen Synapse (2%, 1 Votes)
  • Dungeon Defenders (2%, 1 Votes)
  • Trine (2%, 1 Votes)
  • SpaceChem (2%, 1 Votes)
  • Cave Story+ (2%, 1 Votes)
  • BIT.TRIP RUNNER (2%, 1 Votes)
  • Samorost 2 (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Shatter (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Shank (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Shadowgrounds (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Machinarium (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Snapshot (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Steel Storm: Burning Retribution (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Uplink (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Vessel (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Wizorb (0%, 0 Votes)
  • World of Goo (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Gish (0%, 0 Votes)
  • And Yet It Moves (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Atom Zombie Smasher (0%, 0 Votes)
  • The Basement Collection (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Closure (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Cogs (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Crayon Physics Deluxe (0%, 0 Votes)
  • DEFCON (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Dustforce (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Rochard (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Hammerfight (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Lone Survivor (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Lugaru HD (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Aquaria (0%, 0 Votes)
  • NightSky (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Offspring Fling (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Penumbra: Overture (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Revenge of the Titans (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 19

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I’ll be playing these games on Steam, so if you are also on Steam, feel free to add me as a friend. I go by Jhaer over there.

Thank you for your time.

Is It Zafe?

The name makes me want to gently rest my face in the palm of my hand. Really? “Zafehouse”? But then I went on to read the features, look at the screenshots and watch the video. Annoying name aside, I’m in.

In the Zafehouse: Diaries you control the fates of people picked to live in a house during the zombie apocalypse to see what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real. Real World: Zombie Apocalypse! Hmm.. I just thought of a worse name than Zafehouse. Anyway, you start with your people, and you assign them tasks, and then they do them. A turn is an hour, and how successful they are depends on their own skill and their relationships with the rest of the people. When you finish, you get a nice AAR of the whole ordeal to share with your friends.

It’s available for sale now, but I’m on holiday lockdown – no buying anything for myself until the new year. I look forward to being able to give this a try, even more so if they manage to get approved for Steam, because I love having all my games in Steam.

In the meantime, seeing this reminds me that I have that pack of screenshots from Rebuild lying around that I need to do the writing for…

Space Pirates And Zombies

And that isn’t just the title of this blog entry, that’s also the name of this game.  Space Pirates And Zombies (S.P.A.Z. for short) is a top down shooter.  It isn’t your traditional zombies, but hey, it looks fun.

Right now you can only buy it from Impulse, but hopefully there will be other options (like Steam!) at a later date.

The Ship

Since I’ve turned my eyes back to Valve with the announcement of TF2, I noticed a new game available for purchase and download through Steam, The Ship.

Quite simply, damn, this has to be one of the more interesting and innovative ideas I have seen in a while. The short version, you are trapped on a 1920’s cuise ship (think Titanic) and an evil mastermind is forcing everyone to play his game, which is murder. You get assigned a target and you have to find and kill them. But be on the look out, someone else is targetting you. And its not just some running and shooting game, its got a flavor of the Sims in it because you also need to eat, sleep, urinate, and all other sorts of things.

Do yourself a favor and check out the E3 trailer on their website. I’ll review the game proper after I have played it.