Friday, July 22, 2011

Bastion Review

The Summer (or Winter depending on where you live) of Arcade has rolled around for another year and is headlined by an interesting action role-playing game known as Bastion. Some massive downloadable titles have been released in previous Summer of Arcade promotions including Geometry Wars 2, 'Splosion Man, Castle Crashers and the 2010 hit Limbo. Bastion had a lot to live up to, but the kid and his narrator that takes you through the entire game has done SuperGiant Games proud as they have brought a massive hit to the Xbox 360.

Bastion is a mysterious game that follows the path of an unnamed hero that is simply known as "The Kid" who is set the task of saving Bastion. Something called the Great Calamity has taken over the world and destroyed Bastion which is an area where everyone is supposedly meant to travel to when danger strikes. The job of the kid is to restore Bastion to it's former glory by going out into the world and finding core's which allow you to slowly but surely rebuild Bastion to your liking. It is an interesting story, but one which is never really given any meaning or deep insight during the game.


This is a beautiful game at it's core with an unique art style which really divides Bastion from the other many action RPG's released in the past. It is something I find hard to describe but the cartoon-esque landscapes are filled with detail and mystery, adding the special flair to the game that graced titles such as Braid or Limbo in the past. The layout of Bastion is something that simply never gets old no matter how many times you see it. Even from the very beginning of the game you are on a level in the sky, yet as the kid moves the level forms around you and the path needed to progress is unveiled in a discreet manner. This game is simply outstanding and the risk to do something different has paid off in a very big way.

Speaking of taking risks, the decision to have a mysterious voice in the sky narrate your entire adventure was one that could have been a downfall for Bastion. The deep, emotionless man who describes the kids journey to remove the Great Calamity is a major part of Bastion and sets this game up to be one of the most enjoyable audio experiences you will find anywhere. Narration in Bastion is superbly done, not just stating what is going on, but giving insight into the story and is a great medium to set up a story that would be severely lacking without it. At times I found myself trying to do things in Bastion with the sole intention of seeing if the narrator had something to say about my actions. Hanging around an area and smashing everything in sight caused the narrator to say, "The kid is raging at some items." The narrator, a seemingly bonus extra in a game like this, has been brought into the limelight as one of the most crucial parts of Bastion's success.


Strictly speaking, Bastion doesn't do anything outstanding from a gameplay point of view, yet it has managed to be extremely addictive. At it's core Bastion is still about running around linear levels mashing one button to strike with your sword/axe/club and another button is for shooting your gun/arrow. Somehow the game doesn't become boring, with this very simple process coupled with a dodge button, Bastion requires strategic movement if you want to survive. That being said, Bastion is not a hard game and the toughest parts of the game are at the beginning before your weapons are upgraded. Instead of difficulty levels the developers had added an equivalent to Halo's skulls which make the game harder. These can be found along the way and by using them you not only make the game more challenging, but earn extra experience along the way.

Using Bastion as a hub world that you are rebuilding is a cool process and in a way is just like the kingdom in Fable III. It is the centre of the game and it is a really rewarding experience to see your time and effort going into something. The story is light on details at the beginning of the game, with the narrator seemingly the focus of the game. Over time though the story is unveiled and those who get invested into Bastion will appreciate it by the end. Certainly some gamers won't like the lack of a deep story to get carried away into.


Bastion isn't a perfect game, but it is certainly an engaging experience with fun gameplay and outstanding visuals that will manage to capture hardcore and casual gamers a like. What really sums up this game is the narrator. The deep, strong character is a strong step into the unknown for Bastion and that is the precise principal of this game. Never knowing where the path will take you is a strong premise for one of the best downloadable titles on the Xbox Live Arcade. When people look back at the 2011 Summer of Arcade they will see Bastion as one of the strongest, if not the best release of the event.

Graphics - 9.5/10
Sound - 10/10
Gameplay - 8.5/10
Overall - 9.5/10