Beer & Video Games: Bastion

I sometimes enjoy writing about stuff that isn’t exactly beer-related. Why? Because talking about one thing all the time gets boring. I know, I know — I should’ve thought of that before I named my website. But let me offer this counterpoint: Meh.

Video games are one of my favorite hobbies. Some people think they’re a waste of time (or a menace, but that’s a different conversation), and I’ll admit, many of them are designed to waste time — but most who’ve made those accusations have probably spent countless hours enjoying their own favorite form of “useless” entertainment, whether it be books, movies, or television, so maybe we can all agree that something isn’t a waste of time if people can responsibly enjoy the time they spend with it. Glad that’s settled!

Bastion, a downloadable game that gave me more value for 15 bucks than most of its full-priced counterparts this year, is a great example of time well spent. This game is a throwback to the 1990s, to the glorious era of the Super Nintendo and the Sega Genesis. But even so, it tells a surprisingly grown-up story — the story of a world shattered by a calamity. You play as the Kid, a young man wandering alone in what’s left. As you begin, he wakes up on an island in the air, a broken piece of his former home held aloft by who knows what. He steps forward and little bits of city float up beneath him, reforming a path.

The game’s colorful, hand-drawn art sells the setting, and the music sets a somber mood. But what really gives the story substance is its narrator, who responds dynamically to everything you do. For example, after acquiring my first weapon — a broad, heavy hammer — I, like any good dungeon crawler, started smashing boxes to find the loot inside. After a moment of this, the narrator said in a gunslinger growl, “Kid just rages for a while.” The game is filled with cool little moments like that (and profound big ones, too), where your actions seem to shape the story. It made me reconsider the limitations many games impose upon themselves: Scripted events and lengthy cut scenes turn too many games into interactive movies, but Bastion’s makers realized the potential of letting players’ actions guide the narrative, and although the game doesn’t offer many real choices about where to go next, it also doesn’t force you to sit there and watch while it decides for you.

How this all relates to beer, though, is in the interesting ways Bastion lets you upgrade your skills. There are several methods, but my favorite (of course) is the distillery, where players can “drink” various boozes that provide passive boosts. Cinderbrick Stout, for instance, makes you faster while defending with your shield. Whale Ale makes your special attacks stronger. Not all are beer-related, though; my personal favorite is called Werewhiskey, which amps up critical attacks when your health gets low. The only bad part about the distillery is that you eventually realize you’ll never get to drink these beverages. It’s kind of depressing.

But that’s why I mix my hobbies. Nothing beats sipping a pint of stout or IPA as you explore new worlds and watch stories unfold in ways no other medium could manage. For more information about Bastion (and how to buy it), visit the Supergiant Games website. I assure you it won’t be a waste of time.

Author’s note: I’m not sure how old the Kid is, nor if he’s of legal drinking age by our standards; however, it’s a fantasy world with an old-west style. I’m sure he’s plenty old enough in his society.

6 Responses to “Beer & Video Games: Bastion”
  1. Ryan says:

    Great article! Does werewhiskey turn you into a werewolf? as long as it doesn’t turn me into a horrible latex wolf I’m good

    • Scott says:

      Haha, no … there’s a sort of growl noise when it kicks in, but other than that the only difference is how much ass you suddenly kick.

  2. Ben says:

    At least werewhiskey doesn’t turn you into a shambling glob of humanoid booze. That would make social interaction difficult … or very unsettling, depending on whom you’re talking to. I think this game needs a Beer(ein)stein patch so that every time you drink a beer, the narrator says “kid’s nose is treated to hoppy notes and he watches with anticipation as the amber liquid fills his glass.” Make it happen, Scott.

    • Scott says:

      But hey, I bet that version of werewhiskey would make enemy attacks pass right through you. And I like your idea … I’ll contact Supergiant Games right away to see if we can make that happen.

  3. Kris says:

    This kind of made my head hurt and not in a had one too many kind of way.

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