By Will Murtha
Bastion is an amazingly artistic and detailed game, with vibrant art and scenery that stands out among the competition. Developed by Supergiant Games, Bastion is an action role playing game that feels different than the rest of the arcade games available. The easy to use controls and stand-alone feel mixed in with beautiful art makes Bastion a unique experience.
The game starts off by introducing a boy who wakes after the events of “The Great Calamity.” This boy, known simply as “The Kid,” is a silent protagonist who immediately finds his old “friend,” the Cael Hammer, and first weapon in the game. Once acquiring the hammer, you must fight your way to the Bastion, a designated place to regroup in case of emergency. After arriving at the Bastion, you see it’s in desperate need of repairs. To do this, you must collect cores and shards found in different districts of the game’s world. After acquiring a core or shard, you can use it to restore buildings at the Bastion. These buildings include an arsenal, a Distillery, and a Shrine, among others. The arsenal, for example, allows you to upgrade your weapons, such as the aforementioned Cael Hammer, the Scrap Musket, the War Machete and the Brusher’s Pike.
Gameplay is very simple. You essentially hack and slash your way through enemies, get to the core and hop onto the skyway, or teleporter, to go back to the Bastion. You gain experience and levels the standard RPG way: by killing enemies. While going through the different stages, there are tiny blue shards on the ground, different from the shards required to rebuild the Bastion. These shards can be used to buy special abilities, raise your health, and add the ability to hold more potions.
The game plays rather easily aside from the last couple levels, which send mobs of enemies at you. But these are also the most fun levels because of their difficulty and increased intensity. The game can optionally be made harder through a building in the Bastion called the Shrine. The shrine is a place where The Kid can “invoke” the gods. When you invoke the gods, the idols activate and make the game harder by providing enemies with combat advantages. One example is Micia, The Goddess of Loss and Longing, who when activated grants enemies the ability to regenerate health. Another example is Pyth, The God of Commotion and Order, who makes enemies quicker in movement and attack speed. While activating these idols makes the game harder on you, you will earn a bigger percentage of experience or shards to buy things.
One of the best aspects of Bastion is the narrator, who comments on your journey throughout the game. If you roll off the edge he will make a remark along the lines of “The Boy needs to be more careful.” Despite comments like these, he is a welcome companion on your journey.
After beating the game a feature unlocks called new game plus, which allows you to restart from the beginning but keep your level, weapons, upgrades and a few other minor things.
Although Bastion overall is very good, it does have a few cons. One is that the game is very short, lasting only around a couple of hours. If the game did not have new game plus mode it would hurt the overall rating significantly. Another setback is that the game does not have likeable characters to get behind. The non-playable characters have no substance to them, other than the whimsical narrator. Also it is hard to get root for a main character that does not speak. So, when you get to the end of the game and face the final decision, your choice will have little weight. Personally, I’m very into characters and character development so that to me is the biggest con.
What makes this game different is not only its imaginative art style but the feel of the game; you have a ton of control over your character. Even though Bastion is a hack and slash arcade style game, it has far more depth to it. Allowing customization through different and upgradeable weapons and various special abilities makes it a far richer experience. The ability to raise your health, make yourself more resistant to damage or hold more potions and many other different options lets you build the character you want.
Supergiant Games has a hit on their hands.
Bastion is available on the Xbox 360 Live Arcade (XBLA) and also Steam for PC.
Rating: 8.7 out of 10