Review: Bastion

This game has soul…

To say that Bastion is the best Live Arcade game that I’ve played this year would be a bit of an understatement.  This is perhaps my favorite game of the year, period.

What’s to Like?

  • Visuals – A lush, hand-painted world – Bastion is presented in a high-definition, richly-detailed art style, with a palette so deep and rich. The artistic direction enhances the fantastical world design and helps to immerse the player in the unique setting and moody atmosphere.
  • Gameplay that Pleases – The game offers exciting, highly responsive moment-to-moment action that rewards player skill and experimentation, allowing players to develop their own unique fighting styles by mixing and matching from a large variety of weapons, uniquely designed, and each with their own “secret skills” and mechanics.
  • Dynamic Narration – Bastion introduces a one-of-a-kind dynamic narration system, which gradually reveals a rich back story as the narrator reacts to the player’s actions, allowing for the player to have a uniquely personalized experience and helps to bind player actions to the events of the world. The game features thousands of lines of narration. No player will be able to hear it all the first time through the game.
  • Amazing Soundtrack –  ‘Acoustic frontier trip-hop’ is how the creators themselves describe it.  This is a very accurate description as it consists of a diverse mixture of electronic, ambient noise, acoustic blues and country music styles. It perfectly complements every other aspect of the game.

Beautiful Art Direction

What is Bastion?

Bastion is an original action role-playing game featuring a reactive narrator who marks your every move, lush hand-painted 2D artwork, and tight responsive gameplay that rewards playing with finesse. The game is designed to be simple to pick up and start playing, while offering a lot of rich choices around character customization as well as a deep story and gameworld you can lose yourself in.” (Supergiantgames.com, 2011)

What is the Story?

The story in Bastion is intrinsically bound to every discovery in the game.  For each weapon, skill, item, and enemy that you discover, the narrator offers some bit of history or insight into the world and how everything in the setting is connected.  It’s a unique storytelling technique and is truly effective.

Suffice it to say, you play “The Kid,” who wakes up in the world of Caeldonia some time after an apocalyptic  event, known as “The Calamity.”  When you step out of the bed and move towards the door, the path before you rushes up to your feet to meet you.  You make your way to “The Bastion”, which is the only place of refuge from “The Calamity,” and the only source of hope to rebuild and to puzzle together what has happened to your world.  The journey covers a wide range of emotions and topics such as intrigue, racial tension, hope, salvation, redemption, etc. The story is topped off with player choice-there are a few critical choices that come up at such dramatic moments, it makes you stop and think.  This is a beautiful thing.

Heavy Sleeper, The Kid.

Issues?

Sure, there are some issues.  Some might take issue with the fact that the game is essentially a collection of fetch quests tied with discovery and story.  That would not be me though-if this is a collection of fetch quests, I have to say I rather enjoy a collection of fetch quests.

Gameplay Hours

Bastion’s main story mode does not take long to complete. I finished in about six hours, I hear reports ranging 3-10 hours for the initial playthrough.  There is a New Game Plus mode, where you start the story mode over from the beginning, with all the XP, Levels, Skills, and Weapons that you had at the end of your last playthrough.  There are leaderboards for the game, to compare ‘scores” with your friends, but the scoring system is not obviously apparent to me.

I’d like to make special note that one of the main reasons that I found Bastion to be so very enjoyable is that I never felt that the game was wasting my time.  There is no senseless grinding even though it’s an RPG.  Every bit of discovery and reward, I felt, was earned in a timely and enjoyable fashion.  Kirk Hamilton over at Kotaku did a wonderful article regarding this very subject.

Gasfellas and Scumbags, Oh My!

In Summary

I’ll admit, I could be considered to be a bit biased.  I’ve been a big fan of Greg Kasavin since he was at Gamespot.  He’s always been right on target when it comes to his objective view on games. So, in the interest of disclosure, I’m a fan.

Regardless of my borderline man-crush, do yourself a favor and buy a copy of Bastion. The game is filled with a love for games and for gamers.  Bastion has been lovingly crafted by a small team with big aspirations. Bastion will forever have a place in my heart and I’ve been gaming for a while now.

Also, if you’re interested, the soundtrack is available at Bandcamp and Steam.

Once you’ve played the game, hit up @kasavin and @SupergiantGames, and let them know how much you loved it.  That’s assuming you’ll love it, which I am assuming.

Thanks for reading and check out the image gallery below!

This has been a Review of Bastion, by Michael Boyd:
PLATFORMS: Xbox 360  Live Arcade, Steam (PC)
PUBLISHER(S): Warner Bros. Games
DEVELOPER(S): Supergiant Games
GENRE(S): RPG
RELEASE DATE: July 20, 2011 (XBLA), August 16, 2011 (PC/Steam)
ESRB RATING: E 10+
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About Michael Boyd

Gaming, Movies, Science Fiction and Fantasy are my passions. Combine any two of these and I typically lose my mind over whatever that thing is. Living in the Virginia suburbs of Washington D.C. with my beautiful wife and our four legged little ones. Together, we do the best we can to improve our life every day.

Posted on August 17, 2011, in Uncategorized, Video Games and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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