Wednesday, 11 January 2012


I could have sworn Minecraft was available for the Xbox 360. And yet when I had that new points card I bought precisely for that purchase, it wasn't available for download. None of game sites mentioned a delay. So I got Bastion instead, since everyone's yapping about that like it's Braid 2.

You know, every time I try to make a positive effort to make this blog less about only pessimistic, mean-spirited things to say about video games, something comes along and craps all over my parade.

In this case, I feel I would be remiss not to point out that "Bastion" kind of sucks.

It shouldn't suck, it just suffers from that thing I was talking about earlier. The text is impossible to read, there's too much going on at a time to make sense of it all and everyone and everything in the game is so tiny that you can't really tell if you're hurting the bad guys or if they're hurting you until the screen flashes red. There are friendly NPC's that look exactly like the monsters in this game, and I could never tell who I was attacking, or if that attack was having any sort of effect.

All of that fancy art did nothing to alleviate the fact that it's cramming in way more than anyone could ever possibly keep track of. Every character is an indistinct smattering of pixels blurring into everything else. A smart game would make the enemies a different art-style than the background to help them stand out. For example:

Courtesy of

Notice how the characters have solid black outlines, while the backgrounds are softer, and look like they were done in a 3D program first? That's called Contrast. It's what lets me differentiate a character from the background. The characters follow one set of rules, the backgrounds follow another. I can tell what I can interact with based on how it's "drawn".

Bastion does not understand this. That is why, despite its more lush production values, it looks worse than a game that came out in the 1990's. And that is why it's such a bother to play. And even just to make sure it wasn't me, I actually went to an optometrist yesterday. First eye-exam I've ever had. Turns out I'm a bit near-sighted, but not enough to warrant glasses. She was pretty specific about that. It would really just be for aesthetic purposes(like if I thought I'd look cool in glasses) than for any real purpose beneficial for my eye-sight. And I don't exactly sit too far away from my television.

And before you say it, my television is actually pretty good, a solid machine with a flat-screen of a decent size. And while too many games lately suffer from that "HD Text" problem, none of them have ever been as bad as this.

The problem is not with me, it's not with my setup. This game just looks like multi-colored ants puking on each other.

Bastion, seen here at it's normal resolution.

And that narrator. Whose idea was that? This game's whole gimmick is that instead of dialogue, the narrator just says everything that happens, as it happens.  

"The kid smashed a bunch of stuff, like he was looking for loot." 

"Some stuff happened, and I mention it sounding all gruff and worldly." 

"The player got sick of some moron talking over the action and pointing out the obvious and strangled m-G-GURK!"

Did anyone making this game seriously think that wouldn't get old in about 5 minutes? I think that's actually more annoying than cutscenes. That, and I don't think the industrial/wild-western soundtrack or narration really suits the solemn fantasy setting. Imagine if Diablo II had music that sounded like this. Except at least that has a melody. Bastion's soundtrack and narration don't have that. It's not atmospheric. It's just a bunch of noises. The honk of a clown car would actually improve the experience.

It's also one of those games where it makes you pick up and use a new weapon even if it's not useful to you, and you have to go through the whole stage until you can try out the weapons you actually liked using. And you never really know what the right combination of weapons is going to be until you're in the stage. And even if you picked right, a lot of enemies have annoying attacks that stun you, but they attack fast enough so that you can never get in any hits, so there's no point in even playing.

So, yeah, that's 1,200 points I'll never get back.



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