Platform: Xbox 360
The world has been... well, not precisely destroyed, just... sort of partly shattered, partly shifted into another dimension. And it's up to you, oh nameless hero, to bring new civilisation about. How do you do it? By wrecking the old, killing monsters, saving the rare survivors, and honing your skills with the weapons and challenges of the world that holds... the Bastion.
Bastion is a game that, frankly, surprised me in several ways. Firstly, it's a Warner Bros game (developed by Supergiant Games), and it seems a little lo-fi at first for that giant corporation. But as you play, the second surprise sinks in... with very few exceptions, it's good. I mean really good, for the price. I'm halfway through the story mode right now (or at least, I believe so, judging by the achievements), and already, I feel quite proud of myself for mastering 2 weapon challenges, and beating some very hard game modes. Everything in the game that I'm aware of is unlocked within the game, such as an arena challenge you can play to either practice with your weapons against some of the basic enemies, or grind for the game's currency, which you don't have to do as often as you'd think. I can only think of three times in the first half of the game where I felt it was necessary, and, in all cases, it was because I wanted to beat a challenge, or at least get better at it. This is a game that draws you in.
Control wise, it's a teeny bit crowded, using WSAD to move, mouse to aim and attack, E to use, Q for specials, space to dodge-roll, and Shift for blocking and lock-on, but, once you either get used to it or change the controls to something more comfortable, you have no trouble hacking and slashing. Because, essentially, that's what this game is. Hack and slash the pattern based enemies, with lots of variations. For example, one level has you defending yourself on a flying skiff racing through the air, and another few levels have the levels falling apart on you as you're trying to exit. Another level involves hunting a mega-crocodile (the Anklegator, presumably because your ankles are the first things that fall into its huge maw), so the variety keeps you interested, and the difficulty curve is nice and stable until the second half, where it starts getting more challenging as you move forward.
Graphically, it's a sort of painterly creation in light tones (darker, obviously, for the swamp levels and inevitable nightmare level), and that gives it just the right whimsical atmosphere for a world so blatantly crazy. In a good way. The soundtrack, and indeed the voice over from The Stranger, gives a kind of old-Western feel to the game, while most of the monster noises are actually relatively quiet, and help you understand when to block for a perfect counter (Yes, this game has a counter-attack mechanic... it's got lots of little hidden depths like that). So, in short, it all fits together. The game isn't too hard, but it's something I know I would go back to to play again, so it's also got a fair amount of replay value, especially with a New Game Plus mode to finish afterwards.
Overall, this game is well worth the price, and then some. It's simple, but with hidden depths, fun to play, with charming “adaptable” narration (basically means the narrator kicks in at certain scripted events like reaching a point or using a continue, but this, too, is fun), and achievements that don't require you to spend fifty million hours with the game. Although some of the challenges are a bit too difficult to reach first place without most of the weapon upgrades (Duelling Pistol challenge, I'm looking at you!)
UPDATE: I've finished the game twice now, once on NG+, and I applaud this game. Two hard moral choices, one after the other, and a brilliantly told story. Supergiant, you live up to your name.