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Replay the right way

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.

It’s brilliant.

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.

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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.

Bill Abner

Bill has been writing about games for the past 16 years for such outlets as Computer Games Magazine, GameSpy, The Escapist, GameShark, and Crispy Gamer. He will continue to do so until his wife tells him to get a real job.

2 thoughts to “Replay the right way”

  1. I’d have to agree that other games need to take a page from Bastion’s Shrine. Getting a bonus for playing a harder difficulty is fine, but being able to tweak what aspects are harder makes a huge difference. The Shrine is a genius way to modify the game so it matches your skill level, and the XP bonus is handled nicely as well.

    On a side note, Garmunth and Olak can go screw themselves. Things are bad enough when the enemies hit like a truck and regenerate their health due to the other idols – I don’t need them to just laugh at half of my Carbine shots or smack me repeatedly while I wait for them to solidify. Bastards.

  2. The Shrine is genius. It allows you to tweak exactly what aspects of the game you want to make more difficult, and it allows you to do it in a flavourful way that actually fits into the narrative. It’s not just some random options screen, although that would have been perfectly serviceable if it let you tweak the same settings. The replay also gives you a ton of extra cash when you start re-upgrading the Bastion. I was able to have every weapon fully upgraded halfway through my second game.

    That was also the time that I chose to put down my weapon at the end (I’m trying to be as vague as possible to avoid spoilers while still being identifiable) and was treated to a seriously brilliant rescue scene done entirely in gameplay in an extremely heartfelt and convincing way. Anybody who’s played to this end knows what I’m talking about. That is how you merge storytelling and gameplay. This game does it so right, I forgive its otherwise basic Diablo-style hack & slash RPG gameplay. It’s just really, really well done. Bravo, Supergiant. Bravo.

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