Must play ... again ... Bastion

It isn't often that I would implore people to purchase, yes pay for, a game for a second time. This is most definitely an exception. Bastion on iPad is a joy to behold and well worth the meager asking price of a five dollar download.

Now personally, it is important to say up front that I have really disliked the 'virtual stick' style approach some developers have taken to for most iPad titles. To me the device is at it's best when the developer realizes that they are working with a touch interface and makes their game work with it, regardless of the preconceptions of what should be done. Tablets do not have thumbsticks or joypads, as much as some developers may love for them to, they don't. 'Virtual' joypads have never sat right with me when it comes to controls. The lack of the tactile, physical, feedback that you get from an actual joypad simply hamstrings those virtual implementations for me.

That leaves developers with a problem for these types of game - how do you allow the player to move and perform other actions independently of each other at the same time?   

The solution that Bastion found for their new version, is so simple, and instilled with bizarre genius that it has no right to work as well as it does.

Put simply they remove the ability for you to choose where to fire your chosen weapon in a traditional sense. They let the AI decide where the Kid should be aiming his attacks and simply allow you to touch the screen to move around.

Sounds like a horrendous decision on paper right? What fun is there if you can't direct your fire? 


As it turns out, no, it works just fine.

In fact, it might actually be an even better game for it, something I can't imagine myself saying when I finished my original play-through on the PC. Really, I mean it. 

This might actually be the best version of Bastion.

In this new version the game the controls work almost flawlessly, and the action has been tweaked and poked to still provide challenge. The key lies in the fact that the AI shooting behaves so naturally that you barely notice you aren't actually doing it yourself. It invariably shoots / stomps / hits exactly were you would have thought to aim anyway. It works seamlessly and intelligently with the directions in which you move. In fact it frees up reaction time to worry about the active dodging and blocking that comes into its own now that the game has taken the labors of aiming off of your shoulders. I actually found it a much more compelling and involving experience because of it ... and the original experience was far from flawed in the first place ... all in all, it served to improve the flow of the game for me.

It should be noted that it does have an alternate scheme if you really want to, but honestly at this point I could not imagine wanting to activate it ... the experience is just that good.

Aspiring tablet designers should definitely give it a spin as an example of how to elegantly transition a console and PC game to a touch interface.

So yes, go out and buy Bastion again, it really is worth it.