Bastion Review

Proper reviews supposed to start at the beginning, ain’t so simple with this one…

By Ryan Cross – Editor, TGB Team

Let me start off by saying Bastion is unique. It’s a game that will suck into its world as you play and keep you there until the job is done and sometime after that too. With Bastion, Developer SuperGiant Games has miraculously and meticulously crafted an experience that takes you in with its fantastic art-style, tight combat and fresh take on storytelling.

Bastion’s story starts out simple enough. Similar to many other RPGS, the player (known to us only as “The Kid”) wakes up in his small, comfy home ready for adventure. The problem is that it seems the world went to pieces while the kid was sleeping, almost completely destroyed by something called the “Calamity”. Now the kid’s only hope is to find the Bastion, a safe haven where all survivors were supposed to meet in case such a catastrophe occurred.

What follows is the story of a boy who’s trying to piece together a world that’s broken, shattered into pieces by the Great Calamity.  The only way to do that is to restore the Bastion by finding cores.  The story that unfolds touches on themes like love, friendship, betrayal and even loss. It’s an interesting spin on the old “Boy saves the land” story thats been done many a times. Still, the writing isn’t always strong. There are times in Bastion’s tale where intense or sad moments can seem flat, or the plot weakens. Thankfully, Bastion’s story is a much richer experience thanks to its narrator, Rucks. A fancy moustached man who narrates every action, every plot twist, every new site and every feeling. I know it might sound annoying, but Supergiant Games meant for him to be an integral and meaningful part of Bastion’s tale and for the most part they succeeded. The narrator’s voice only brought on minor twitches of annoyance in a few, brief circumstances where he narrated meaningless actions repeatedly.

The presentation here is also quite impressive. The art style is striking to say the least, a blend of beautiful watercolor painted backgrounds and hand drawn world that forms under your feet as you walk by. It’s gorgeous work, and for such a small development team it really is quite the achievement.

The game is also accompanied by an original soundtrack composed by Darren Korb. The music is an impressive score of mostly acoustic tracks that really grew on me as I played Bastion. Not all of the songs are winners, but the best pieces I found were the compositions that had some connection to the story. Those select few were truly memorable, fantastic pieces of music. There was even a moment where I stopped what I was doing just to listen a whole song. Seriously, it was that good.

The art style is simply gorgeous.

Of course good looks and an interesting story won’t keep me glued to the controller if the gameplay isn’t there to back it up. Thankfully, Supergiant delivers on this front as well.  The combat is tight and fun.  With the ability to dodge, block, and counter with a variety of cool weapons to choose from. (My personal favorite being a rather large, destructive hammer.) You are allowed two weapons with you per mission, along with your trust shield, and a special ability of your choice. While two weapons may seem limiting,  the missions are kept short, lasting around 10-15 minutes tops, and you’ll often find new weapons and abilities along the way. Meaning that combat manages to stay fresh an fun throughout the entire 5-6 it’ll take you to beat Bastion.

That is assuming of course, that you don’t delve into all the other optional content Bastion has to offer.  You could easily double you playtime mastering weapons at proving grounds, chasing after weapon upgrades, or even learning bits of lore as you fend off foes in several wave attack mini-games. Then there’s New Game +, where you go back and do it all again, only this time with all your weapons, abilities and experience that you gained from your first run. Whatever you decide, Bastion has tons of content to offer and some good replay value to boot.

However, as great as a game as Bastion may be, it’s not without its flaws. The game has an irregular difficulty curve.  Most of the challenge, if any will occur during the begnning segments. The game only gets easier from there as you upgrade your weapons and gain experience. There were only a few odd times later on in the game when the difficulty would spike. In fact, I played through the entire game and only had to restart a mission once due to a complete death. It’s a good thing you can choose to up the difficulty yourself using what is called a shrine. Which will invoke the gods wrath upon yee! In exchange for better rewards of course. Still, It would have been nice for Bastion to have a gradual rise in difficulty instead of the opposite.

The only other minor qualm I have with Bastion is with its enemy variety. Specifically in the beginning. Expect to spend a good chunk of your time fighting a lot of Windbags and turrets. Thankfully, Bastion’s bag of monsters graciously expands after the first hour or two. Which saves this tale from becoming a repitious or tedious endeavor.

Expect to fight a lot of these guys early on.

 The Verdict:

At 15$ Bastion’s purchase should be an easy decision for any action-RPG fan, the games world is a splendid one to explore and any fans of video game storytelling should give this one a go. Bastion is available for both PC and Xbox 360 and even ran fine on my ancient laptop. So do yourself a favor and pick this gem up. The Bastion ain’t gonna build itself after all…well, not entirely.

Final Score: A