Developer Supergiant Games
Platform PC/Xbox (PC Reviewed)
Things You Might Like
- Diablo-style gameplay
- Tons of weapons, abilities, and more
- Plenty of replay value
- Folk/Western soundtrack
- Beautiful, hand-drawn art
- Progressively generated narration
Things You Might Not Like
- Isometric camera
Bastion is a modern classic. The well-developed gameplay is expertly layered over a beautiful world that is both breathtaking and deadly.
5 out of 5 Cores Recovered
Let’s say you wake up one day and everything has been destroyed. I mean just about everything. Your city, which floats above the world, is now a collection of disparate islands in the sky populated by nightmare creatures and former ethereal servants run amok and your countrymen are now nothing more than ashen statues. Now imagine that instead of panicking, you actually know where to go: the Bastion. As it’s name implies, the Bastion is a safe-haven for your people. You all know to go there in case of a disaster or, in this instance, a Calamity. This is the plot for Bastion. Bastion puts you in the role of “the Kid”, a survivor of The Calamity, an apocalyptic event that has all but wiped out your people.
Your job is to put right what once went wrong. The Bastion is said to have the power to save your people and undo what happened. Unfortunately, it needs to be powered by Cores, which have been scattered all over the place. The solution is simple, go get them back, all while fighting a horde of nasty creatures that are quite content keeping them. Right off the bat, Bastion pulled me in. The gameplay is reminiscent of some of PC Gaming’s classics, like Diablo or the more recent Torchlight. You move your character with the keyboard and aim your ranged weapons with the mouse.
All ranged weapons, and some melee weapons, have a sort of critical range wherein the mouse cursor flashes and you can pull off a Power Shot if you time it right. This adds a bit of challenge to keep the gameplay from becoming a simple hack and slash. Your primary loadout, which you can always change at an Armory, consists of a Melee Weapon, Ranged, and a skill, which is based on the weapons you are currently wielding. You are free to change these to whatever you like, though, and if switching between two melee weapons is more your style, by all means, enjoy.
You’ll find plenty of variety in the damage options. A shield is also permanently in your loadout, and a perfectly timed block can kick off a Counter, where the attack is deflected back at the enemy. This is incredibly useful. In addition to the weapons, there are a series of various features that will alter your experience. First there’s the Shrine, where in the gods of Bastion reside, but rather than grant you any boons, they instead favor your enemies. These are akin to cranking up the difficulty. By enabling different gods’ presences, your enemies will gain buffs unique to the gods. Some will resists damage, others will regain health, and you can combine any number of deities to increase the challenge and also the rewards in each level. Another interesting feature is the Distillery, where you can equip potions that provide passive bonuses to the Kid. These range from being able to carry more health potions to maximizing reflected damage. You can carry more each time you level up, so make sure to use all that you can.
The artwork reminds me of some of the more beautiful games I’ve played. Odin Sphere on the PS2 comes to mind. Every asset in the game was hand painted by one person and the attention to detail really shows. This is especially impressive given that most companies prefer computer rendering for their artwork. The whole world, including all of the characters, are absolutely incredible to behold and serve to create a unique world comprised of rich colors. The creatures all have a unique look and feel to them, and each level serves up something new to behold. If you’re like me and are always looking for something new to see, Bastion does not disappoint. Speaking of uniqueness, Bastion’s soundtrack suits the game perfectly and has a flavor all its own. It’s a hybrid of modern folk/western music with some hints of techno thrown in for good measure. There are also some hints of Eastern music influences as well. It reminds me of Cowboy Bebop in some regards.
On top of the soundtrack is a reflexive narration that details your adventure as it is happening. This is clearly where Bastion found it’s niche. The Narrator is present throughout the entire game and serves to provide backstory and guidance as you go on your adventure. The real trick here is that the narration is generated as your act. For example, when you fight your first monster, the narrator comments on how you defeated him, and then adds in “the windbag got a piece of him, though” as your health bar loses a few points for the first time. Little additions like this make Bastion an engrossing adventure for which I prescribe a good pair of headphones. You won’t want to miss a thing.All of these aspects come together to create an experience as unique as the artwork. Even as I type this review, I’m streaming the soundtrack.
In closing, Bastion is a modern classic. It improves tried and true gameplay mechanics and delivers a unique visual/aural experience. People will be talking about this game for years to come. As the inaugural offering from Supergiant games, we have a lot of good things to look forward to in the future.