Number of Players – 1
Platform – Xbox Live Arcade (Reviewed), Steam
Release Date – Xbox Live Arcade: July 20th, 2011
Steam: August 16th, 2011
Genre – Action/Role-Playing
ESRB – Everyone 10+
MSRP – 1200 MS Points (Around $15 USD)
You know all those games that people keep telling you are going to be Game of the Year? Forget ’em and go pick up Bastion. Supergiant Games makes its entrance into the gaming world with this title and if its quality is any indication, they will be a force to be reckoned with. Bastion draws you in with a well crafted story and keeps you enthralled with simple yet entertaining gameplay, elegant visuals and an awe-inspiring soundtrack.
As you begin the game you’re thrust into the world in which your character, The Kid, wakes up and finds that the entire world has been destroyed by the Calamity. The only way you find out about any of this is from the Narrator, who is the only character that speaks throughout the game. This has to be one of the greatest features in this game as the Narrator describes everything that is going on. We soon find out that the Calamity is an event which has torn the world asunder and you’re going to spend the game trying to find what caused it as well as trying to piece the world back together. Supergiant Games has packed so much into this game story wise, as you progress in the game you’re treated to mythologies and culture being created before your very eyes.
*The Kid wakes up in the new world
The Bastion itself is a fallout shelter for the world. The citizens of the game are supposed to meet there if anything went wrong so that they can start over. As you collect cores and shards you’re able to make buildings in the Bastion as well as upgrade them, which reminded me a lot of the Dark Cloud series, and with these buildings comes a number of possibilities. Each of the buildings has a unique purpose which range from adding abilities to the Kid, changing your weapons, housing the in-game achievements and more. In the end you will have all of the buildings as well as their upgrades but it’s up to you to decide on when to construct and upgrade them.
The gameplay is simple but addictive. You explore 2D linear levels looking for the core/shard within, do battle with the foes that appear as well as gather any upgrades or collectibles you find. As you begin to explore the floor itself appears out of nowhere, remnants of the old world coming back to give you footing to get to your objective. There are a variety of enemies and each has a distinct fighting pattern which can be exploited with certain weapon combinations.
Lucky for you there are a vast number of weapons that become available as the story progresses. You’ll be able to hold two weapons at once, as well as equip a secret skill which will be dependent on your play style. If you favor ranged weapons, you have a choice of 8 different weapons to use which include a bow, dueling pistols, a mortar and much more. If you’d rather hack, stab and smash, you can choose from the three melee weapons included in the game which are the War Machete, the Brusher’s Pike and the Cael Hammer.
*The Kid getting ready to fire
After you obtain the weapons you’ll begin to come across items that will allow to upgrade them. Upgrades will add new stats and abilities to your weapon of choice. Each tool can be upgraded a total of 5 times and there is always a choice between two benefits at each level. The best part of this feature is that you can always switch between the benefits at the Forge if you don’t like the one you initially chose.
Bastion’s world is tied together by three key features, the phenomenal soundtrack, its dazzling graphics and the superb Narrator. The composer for Bastion, Darren Korb, made a genre specifically for it: acoustic frontier trip-hop. The music he’s created feels familiar as it draws some of its roots from many different cultures but also has a classic Americana feel to it as well. Each level is complimented by it’s soundtrack, enhancing the overall quality of the game.
The graphics are a splendid match to the gameplay. While the character designs have a cartoony feel, the backgrounds become darker in tone as the game progresses which creates an interesting juxtaposition. These two attributes make the game feel like a fable for a child, a world with unique characters that must pass through the darkness to reach their destination.
*One of the many beautiful views in Bastion
The Narrator was the most entertaining aspect of the game because no one but him talks. As you progress through the levels, he tells you how the Kid is feeling, the history of the level, the history of the world and what may be going on around you. The line that hooked me in occurred as the game opens, if you spend a little too long just smashing objects the Narrator says “Kid just rages for a while”. This storytelling through narration accomplishes so much for the game, you’re not bogged down with a multitude of cut scenes alerting you to what is going on with gameplay sprinkled in-between.
The combination of these factors create a game makes you nostalgic for a time that only the characters can remember. After you beat the game, you can load up a new game plus which will allow you to start off with all of your items and experience in your new game. This feature was a great bonus, especially with the twist at the end where you need to make a decision which affects the ending. Supergiant games has entered the gaming industry with a bang and hopefully this isn’t the last we see of the Kid or the Bastion itself.
GAMEPLAY: 5 / STORY: 5 / GRAPHICS: 5 / SOUND: 5 / OVERALL: 5
Photos provided by Supergiant Games