Bastion – Game Review

Bastion

developed by Supergiant Games

Games I’ve enjoyed over the years evoke a part of my childhood that I remember most fondly.  Perhaps, it’s because I was fortunate enough to grow up during a time where imagination and “free fun” weren’t quite obsolete.  As I was growing up and started playing more involving story driven games, I was able to immerse myself into them by using my imagination while I was playing.  To me, this is where gaming has always been at its best.  The ability to lose oneself to the story while taking part in the adventure is probably the pinnacle of gaming experiences.  It doesn’t really matter what type of game it is, as long as you feel like you’re becoming completely engrossed in the game.  This connection is how I felt while playing Bastion, a game that reminds me of my youth and everything I love about the adventures in gaming.

The World of Caelondia has been destroyed, splintered and fragmented, leaving remnants of it’s former lands floating listlessly through the sky.  An apocalyptic event known only as The Calamity is the cause of this devestation.  Yet, through all of the destruction, there is still hope.  And, it is with the end that the story begins.  You play the part of the hero known only as The Kid.  The Kid wakes up on one of the floating platforms, confused but sets out with conviction to find out what has happened.  Seemingly alone, The Kid begins his journey for the Bastion, a place where the people of Caelondia would have fled during such a catastrophe.

Bastion is a hack-and-slash Action / RPG at it’s core, but it is also a world rich with character and imagination.  The story alone will draw you in, and on top of being an amazing game there are some elements to Bastion that you simply won’t find in other games.  There’s the narrator for example.  A wise old man who narrates your adventures as they are happening.  Then there’s the way the world of Bastion is shaped as you travel through it.  The ground literally raises up to form new trails and pathways as you set off to explore and restore the Bastion.  Explaining how these elements work in Bastion simply isn’t enough though.  You have to see it in action to truly appreciate how special these mechanics are.

I’ve only played the PC version of Bastion but I can tell you that controlling The Kid is painless and relatively simple.  You have the choice of using a mouse, keyboard, or gamepad.  Each can be customized to your liking.  I found all of the controls to be responsive and intuitive, but as usual my personal preference with this sort of game is the gamepad. Walking, attacking, blocking, dodging, and using special moves or items are very easy to accomplish.  This is important because you’ll be using all of these tricks and tools frequently.  Bastion is your more thoughtful hack-and-slash type game.  Blocking and evading enemy attacks, as well as deciding whether to attack up close or from a distance are key to your success.  Not only will you have to pay attention to your enemies, but also your surroundings.  Falling off the edge of the world will cost you a bit of health.  Thankfully, you aren’t punished very badly when this happens though.

On your quest to rebuild the Bastion you’ll also pick up new weapons, items, and materials which can be used to upgrade your equipment.  Along the way you’ll discover the equivalent of item shops and armories which allow you to exchange your current equipment, upgrade a particular weapon, or simply buy new items.  There’s a level of depth and imagination to each of these gameplay elements making Bastion a very distinct game in the Action / RPG genre.

The graphics in Bastion are extremely good.  A fun game doesn’t have to have great graphics to be fun, but having such slick visual design can only improve the experience in a game this entertaining.  Bastion looks like it was made by a Triple-A multimillion dollar game studio.  The game is played from an isometric point of view, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that there is a tremendous amount of detail in the characters, enemies, and numerous backgrounds throughout the game.  It’s all very sharply drawn, animated, and vibrant.  Even the areas of the game that feel dark or abandoned are colorful and filled with rich detail and atmosphere.

The sound quality is equally amazing.  The music and sound fx do a great job immersing the player into Bastion.  However, the biggest and most brilliant feature in Bastion‘s sound design comes from the Narrator.  His voice alone is unforgettable, and having him tell the story as it’s being played out is no small feat.  It sounds like a simple idea, but it’s never been done before, not with real voiceovers, and not in a way that has the Narrator actually reacting to the players actions.

Conclusion:
Bastion is a journey for all gamers with a healthy imagination and a sense of adventure.  Whether you miss those imaginative games from your youth or you simply want an Action / RPG with a memorable story and gameplay to match, you should definitely pick up Bastion.  The gameplay is accessible but challenging enough to feel rewarding.  It’s an experience that consists of equal parts style and substance, and it should be in every avid gamers library whether they’re young or old.  It would have been impossible to make a game like Bastion all those years ago, during the golden age of gaming. But, everything that made those old games entertaining, significant, and fun, can be found flowing through every facet of Bastion.

Bastion is now available on PC and can be purchased through Steam.  Console owners can pick it up on their Xbox 360 through Xbox Live Arcade.
Buy it for the system of your choice, but be sure not to pass up this gem!


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