Review: Bastion for Chrome plays just like the riveting original
By Jim Norris
At a Glance
Plays like the original
Demo mode available
Excellent adventure RPG
No longer a new game
Same price as retail
Bastion for Chrome shows Native Client’s bright future. It plays just like the original adventure RPG, which was one of the most lauded games of 2011.
It’s not hard to see why Bastion is a runaway indie success story. Supergiant took steps in each area of the game’s development to ensure an innovative and satisfying mix of tried-and-true roleplay mechanics, strong central story, and top-notch voice talent. For example, the rich-voiced narrator Rucks (Logan Cunningham) tells your story aloud as it happens, dynamically reflecting your choices and drawing you immediately into the world around you. He also happens to become a major character in the game itself, stepping out of the background and into the narrative himself. The soundtrack is equally compelling, delivering a lush soundscape that does as much to describe each area you explore as the hand-rendered art drawn to depict it. Attention to details like these separates good games from great ones.
You play a character called “the Kid.” Awakening after a mysterious cataclysm referred to as “the Calamity,” you find the world has been swept away, leaving only small, floating fragments. Exploring these areas, you meet the few remaining survivors and piece together what happened. Before long, you learn your quest will take you the stronghold of Bastion, a legendary place of safety during dark times, where a device that promises to renew your lost world awaits you. It’s all great fun that plays out in classic isometric ARPG style but without the cynical Skinner-box mechanics that leave Diablo-flavored games feeling like exploitative, hour-long, hard-sell commercials.
Bastion’s Native Client incarnation is also the first major release to leverage this code-in-browser technology with a high profile game, and it remains an impressive feat. Native Client (NaCl) runs gaming code virtually unaltered inside a special browser sandbox mode and translates the requests using an API called Pepper. This extends the security and stability of the sandbox mode to applications that usually just talk straight to the hardware. It also allows for easy cross-platform compatibility: Native client applications should run on any Chrome-supported OS that meets the original software’s minimum hardware requirements.
Native Client requires only about 5% additional processing overhead to perform, a number which Bastion and similar horsepower hungry titles such as From Dust confirm with their speedy NaCL implementations. It performed consistently across systems from laptops to desktops, and it scales well with higher-powered hardware. Minimum specs are well-chosen however, so you won’t feel compromised if you’re playing on a modest rig. Bastion was already a good choice for laptop gaming, and Native Client makes it close to ideal.
Perhaps because Bastion was already six months old when the NaCL version was released, Supergiant released new content along with it, including the ability to continue play after the game’s story events end. This downloadable game content, “The Stranger’s Dream,” was included with the Web version and became available for other versions as a free add-on shortly afterwards. $15 isn’t a lot to ask for a game with this pedigree, but given that Bastion is a year old now a price trim seems wise, rather than making customers wait for a sale.
Still, this was game-of-the-year material for many websites and magazines, and it remains as enjoyable today as it was twelve months ago. The NaCl version lets you play pretty much anywhere, installation-free, to boot. If you haven’t given Bastion a try yet, the Chrome app is undoubtedly the coolest flavor around. Try it out just to see what’s possible–the first level of the game is free.
Note: The “Try it for free” button on the Product Information page takes you to the Chrome Web Store, where you can download the latest version of the software directly into your Chrome browser.