Bastion is a game that feels a little torn between time periods. On one hand, the game is a veritable shrine to the roleplaying and adventure games of the 16 and 8-bit eras. The isometric camera view, the varied level design, the strict adherence to playing in two-dimensions, and the cohesiveness of its unique “western-punk” fantasy aesthetic all recall a myriad of the best moments from best games of the early 1990s. On the other, the game benefits from things that only exist in the current generation: online distribution, the relative ease and availability of developing games on a small budget (with a small team cramped inside a single house), and most importantly the advent of high-definition graphics.
It’s this last current-gen advantage that really enables the world of Bastion to come alive and be realized to an extent that its pixellated forefathers could only infer and hint toward. With Bastion , the ability to include high-resolution textures and art assets allowed its creators to really imbue the world with a rich history and meaning. As I’ve noted in previous articles, I’m a big proponent of world-building. The practice of fleshing out the virtual universe of a game (or games) with information that taken alone may seem trivial or irrelevant, but collected together into a package of sight and sound really inform both the game and the gamer and provides a richer experience.
Unlike books, music, or even film, I often treat the virtual spaces that games carve out in the world as though they exist unto themselves, in a vacuum free from outside influence and/or knowledge; alien artifacts churned out of some unknowable machine. This perspective does not gel well with the fact that I am also constantly searching for and interested the origins of things; searches which often take me several leaps away from the thing that piqued my interest.
As I’ve grown older and thus my mind expanded I really appreciate being reminded that an artist exists behind the art. Valve is a developer who regularly sets off these little reminders for me. As I’ve discussed previously, their attention and dedication to crafting mechanically solid as well as visually interesting and informed games is almost unlike any other currently active developer. Portal 2 is but the most recent example of their amazing talent at art direction.
THE ONE ABOUT THE HELGHAN ALPHABET.
THE ONE ABOUT OUTLAND’S VISUAL STYLE.
The one about indie game Dyad and its logo.
The one about the posters in Halo: Reach.
THE ONE ABOUT LOGO CONCEPTS FOR THE ORIGINAL PLAYSTATION.
THE ONE ABOUT ITC AVANT GARDE, THE ROCK BAND FONT.
The one about obscure arcade developer Nichibutsu’s logo.
The one about Namco’s corporate identity of Fall 2010.
The one about promo posters for Brink.
The one about Continuum, the Wii and Wii Fit typeface.