Bastion’s Caelondia is destroyed minutes before the game’s opening. The Kid, waking from his bed, sets off through a dream that is beautiful and haunting as a nightmare. Supergiant Games crafted a fiction where every element adds to the cohesion of its story. Part of why it works is it’s great sense of place- a fiction that is mysterious and evocative.
There seems to be this qualitative assertion that when it comes to narrative, more equates with better. This strange idea has become the primary dividing line in any debate between the first Mass Effect and the second.
Mass Effect 1 has an incredible burden on its shoulders. As the first chapter in what Bioware had early on promised to be a trilogy, the story needed to juggle introducing the fiction of the universe, the narrative for the events that would transpire in this game and justify the character that would be instrumental within it.
NOTE- This review is for the release day version through patch 1.65. CD Projekt Red has announced version 2.0 with new content and refinements to several of the issues addressed below.
RPG designers should study what CD Projekt Red has accomplished with The Witcher 2. In the almost four years since they released the original Witcher, they have built a detective story wrapped in a mature fantasy where choices beget choices from the second you start a new game to the credits roll.