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Rich Games for Poor Players, Part 1: A Bastion of Fun

August 24, 2011

Dear Reader,

Leveling in WoW has revitalized the game for me a good bit, getting me away from the frustrating end game. However, as much fun as it’s been, I also find myself wanting to play other games. This is apparently completely normal, as Koster says, “Games are disposable. Boredom is inevitable.” Very sunny, that guy.

However, I don’t want to drop a huge sum of cash for games anymore. I’ve been pretty spoiled. By playing mostly WoW and buying a few games on Steam when they’re very cheap, I’ve turned myself into a terrible penny-pincher. A friend of my buddy once said that a game is “worth it” if you get at least one hour of play per dollar spent. While that guy was an otherwise unremarkable person (except for his constant habit of trying to borrow money), this one insight has stuck with me to this day, and I tend to agree with it. By that measure, WoW is a steal!

Back to the problem, then, which is where to find good, cheap games that last. I poked around with some freebies for a while: Spiral Knights (too kiddy and simplistic for me), Forsaken World (too WoWish), and a few others whose names escape me (some steampunk game that I think Atlas made). None really did much for me. Then, though, I had a lucky batch of cheapies on which I’ve decided to dedicate the next few posts. As mentioned on Monday, they were EyE: Divine Cybermancy, Bastion, and Limbo. We’ll start today with Bastion.

For 15 dollars, I got about as many hours of play, so economically that seems like a good deal. The play was challenging and fun, and the story was very good. The art, as well, was beautifully rendered; it reminded me of Braid in its artistic interpretation of gameplay, but it was even cleaner and crisper than Braid was. The music, though, was by far the most phenomenal aspect of the game (well, outside of the game play, I guess). It was excellent music that was reminiscent of Cowboy Bebop or Firefly.

The game plays a lot like an advanced Zelda game. It’s an isometric perspective that looks down at the Kid, the protagonist of the story. Along with the kid you have the Narrator, who speaks to the player almost the entirety of the game about everything from key story points to inconsequential game situations (“The monsters didn’t know it, but the kid was out of healing potions”). This narrative addition has been talked about a lot due to its uniqueness. I agree with most of what I read, which is that the addition of the human voice storytelling added a lot of depth to the game, especially towards the end when the narrator’s story drifts a little from what’s actually happening (don’t worry, no spoilers).

On top of the unique storytelling design, the game provided a lot of gameplay choice as well. There was a variety of weapons to choose from, and each weapon had a “challenge” board where you learned the nuances and won prizes. There were thirteen distinct boards along with the ten (I think) challenge boards, plus three replayable gauntlets of monsters. All told, that’s a big package for fifteen dollars.

My only complaints about the game where the directional controls. The game is played with a WASD control system, but frequently the stages run in middle directions, meaning you’ll need to be holding WA or AS to actually get where you’re trying to go. On a directional joystick, this would be no problem, but it occasionally (read: frequently) led to me misstepping and falling off the edge of the boards. It’s a minor point, but one that without the game would have been called perfect.

Overall, I highly recommend anyone who likes games similar to Zelda (or even Diablo) to get Bastion. It’s an excellent game for a fair price.


Stubborn (enough to beat every challenge board, though I did youtube a few of them to see how)

P.S. (Edit: Addition!)  I almost forgot; I’ve been wanting to point this out since last week when I saw it.  It’s a short story still in development with a little art to go along.  I initially saw it through A Softer World (to give credit where credit is due) and have really enjoyed it.  It’s called, with a nod to Oppenheimer and the Bhagavad Gita, We are Become Pals.  You should check it out!

5 Comments leave one →
  1. August 25, 2011 4:10 am

    Hehe, I’m a bit the opposite now, I haven’t spent much money on games the past years and I’m alright with paying a bit more if that’s what the future of online games should be (although it is really up to self-discipline too how much cash you leave in item stores. I have none). It seems my recent topic might be just the thing for you then, in case you ever feel like looking into some older MMOs that are by now FTP. 🙂

    • August 25, 2011 6:22 pm

      Actually, I had already seen your list and sent a couple of those suggestions to my buddy for review. Unfortunately, we’ve already played out 4 of your games: LotRO, DDO, Conan, and of course WoW. The other two were more intriguing, and earlier today we launched into Allods. It’s very WoWish, which both works for and against it, but we’ve enjoyed the hour or so we played.

      I looked at FF14, and I couldn’t see how it was free to play; it seemed everywhere I looked that it no longer required a subscription, but I couldn’t see a way to get a free client to download the game without purchasing the core game. Perhaps I’ve overlooked something, but I thought I’d mention it.

      Also, I’m kicking myself because I think Rage looks pretty good, but it’s so expensive – I don’t think I’ve ever paid 60 bucks for a game. We’ll see when the time comes.

      Great suggestions, and thanks for stopping by!

  2. August 26, 2011 4:13 pm

    Good post. Really nice to see a fellow gamers view on this scenario. You make some strong points.

    My biggest situation is; feeling that moving to another game is ‘unproductive’. As in, “I could be killing endless zombies for a few hours, which although full of fun, I could, at the same time, be progressing in my WoW ‘career'”. I feel that spending time elsewhere is like I’m ‘wasting’ valuable time, which could be ‘better’ used playing WoW.

    I know most will say, ” if your enjoying yourself and having fun, isn’t that the whole point”. To a great extent, I can say yes, your right. However, I battle with myself as I become very competitive, especially with myself. Maybe the nature of WoW, lends itself to more than just a ‘game’, but more of a hobby/sport.

    At least, that’s a regular scenario for me 😄

    – Jamin

    • August 29, 2011 9:47 am

      I used to feel exactly the same way, and there was a solid year or two that I didn’t play anything other than WoW. Then things went south with my first guild, and I sought entertainment elsewhere. The cycle repeated almost exactly the same after a few months, and a year or two later, I was playing LotRO. This time, I’m not letting the cycle repeat. I felt myself getting seriously burned out of endgame, which is why I proposed the 10×85 challenge for myself, both as a distraction and a reason to keep playing. If I hadn’t, I have no doubt I’d be knee deep in Rift or EVE or something of the like.

      I know what you mean about WoW being more than just a game, and I think your analogy to a hobby is pretty accurate. There are times when a hobby can be frustrating or daunting, but you push forward because you know you really enjoy the hobby overall, if not right at that moment. WoW, though, eventually can feel more like a job than a hobby, and that’s when I feel it starts getting habit-forming instead of entertainment-seeking, which I when I checked out the last few times and sought other activities this time around.


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