Since a massive hurricane has impeded my ability to do much of anything this weekend, and I’m lucky enough to still have power, I decided to try my hand at Bastion’s “new game plus” mode. It’s an old RPG concept done right – upon completing the story, you’re allowed to dive back in to the main game from the very beginning, only you can keep your stuff (like all of your weapons and upgrades, distillery spirits, and fragments). I beat the game awhile back, but this was my first time back in the saddle.
Everyone talks about how awesome the story/narration is in this game, and they are absolutely right. In fact, a “plus” playthrough allows you to focus more on bits of narration you may have missed, enriching the storyline. Of course, you’re also able to take a peek at the “other” ending than the one you chose, which is also nice (and achievement-worthy).
It’s really the gameplay that shines in a second go-round, however, as you’re really able to get a feel for each weapon, fully upgrade everything you’ve got (something I wasn’t able to get close to the first time through), and play with the “idols” that make the game harder (but in turn, give you XP bonuses). This is one of the tightest, best-designed and best-balanced downloadable games on the market. While I must say it was the story, art, etc. that drew me in at first, it was this interplay between choice and challenge that glued me to my couch for five hours of an extra playthrough.
It got me thinking, of course. I would absolutely love to see more games offering this sort of mode (yes, I know my beloved Mass Effect 2 and Ocarina of Time 3DS already do). Imagine a Metroid-style game that lets you totally time-attack the world by letting you start out with all of your gear, or an FPS that allows you to completely tweak the challenge level in ways you prefer. Games in every genre stand to learn a lesson from Supergiant’s fantastic debut.