Featuring a unique interactive narrative style and imaginative hand-painted environments, Bastion challenges you to build a new world from the broken remnants of the past.
I don't know what makes this game so great, because the gameplay itself actually isn't very innovative or original. The artstyle, music, sounds and voice acting create a great atmosphere though, one of the greatest I have experienced so far. Definitely one of my favorites of 2011.
My quick thoughts after finishing Bastion:
Bastion's a game that blends all of its aesthetics very well. The gameplay is relatively straightforward and vanilla - a angled-top-down action/beat-em-up game, with multiple weapons (all of which have different play styles). You're allowed to carry two weapons and a special ability into every stage, which gives a bunch of play styles. The game flow is a level, the hub world for upgrades/more story, and occasionally these challenge areas where you can test your skill with weapons to unlock new abilities.
Even though the game on its own is relatively easy, there is also an "idol" system, which gives you money and experience bonuses for making the game more difficult. So if it's not challenging enough, well, you can make it harder! There are even arena-based (i.e., "waves") challenges you can partake in.
Of course, layered on top of the gameplay is a narrator, a deep-voiced man who tells the story of how this world came to be, all the way until the end. The narration can be humorous at times, talking of what the player chooses to bring to battle with, or it can discuss information about the world the player is in. However, it never seems too intrusive, and the voice acting is quite nice.
This is also layered with an appealing visual style, and an incredible soundtrack by Darren Korb, using a variety of ethnic instruments...somewhat of a middle-eastern vibe, but also country and western and well, give it a listen if you haven't already.
But, it's a beautiful experience, even if you play through just the normal mode (there are others after you finish the game once). I definitely recommend Bastion!