Unique is the first word that pops up in my head when I think about Bastion. This colourful example of creativity and ingenuity just grabs your eyes and holds them ransom until you’ve spent a good couple of hours playing through it. With a good mix of combat, puzzles and an narrated journey to boot it also makes it one of my most enjoyable arcade games I’ve managed to get my hands on and not to forget, it’s now over two years old.
Bastion is an action based rpg where you take control of the character aptly named ‘’The Kid’’. He’s an odd looking fellow with white hair and as he wakes up in the midst’s of an awful tragedy which has his world literally falling apart at the seams, it’s up to you to then guide this silent protagonist through the many areas of his world that have broken apart to collect the one thing that will bring his world to life again, Core Crystals.
As soon as you start playing a narrator comes into play to describe what’s going on and what your character is doing. Sounds simple right? It even sounds annoying in black and white and could potentially be irritating but rest assured this is one of the reasons why Bastion is unique and such a pleasure to play. The environment is rich with colour and intriguing as it’s full of holes that you can fall down if you’re not careful, it’s also very diverse which will have you investing hours in no time at all. There’s objects all around you that you can interact with and as you do your narrator friend will add little quirky comments along the way adding such depth to what initially looks like a simple looking game. The sound track to Bastion is subtle but influential enough to add personality to the game while you play, this attention to detail is basically why Bastion is such a charming game to play.
When you begin the journey through this colourful and plush world you’ll acquire your first weapon; the Cael hammer and then onto a larger roster of weapons further into the game. The combat is easy to get to grips with too but is hard to master; the hammer is a strong weapon and is a little slower than the rest of the weapons but if you stand still and hit the X or B button [this depends on what slot you have the weapon assigned to] you’ll pull of a hard hit which does more damage. You can equip two weapons at one time before you head off into a level at the Arsenal or often you’ll come across the Arsenal in level anyway so you can change them up if you wish. There are ranged weapons like bows and spears, hand to hand weapons like the War Machete and your trusty Cael hammer and also a slot for Special Attacks which vary from hard hitting attacks to traps to decoys for The Kid. You also have your hud which displays your health and level of XP. You begin each level with three Health Tonics and you can pick more up to replace the ones you use. You Special Attacks also work this way but with Black Tonics instead of Health Tonics, so use them sparingly as they do come in handy. This balance of equipment works really well with the games gameplay mechanics, it’s not too much and doesn’t over complicate the game which gives it a lovely smooth feel.
You even begin to like the enemies Bastion will throw at you, there’s something about the way that they are designed that has you familiarising with them as they’re so varied. They don’t look like big scary bad guys but lovable characters just like the guys and gals you’ll speak with in Bastion. They’re colourful, have challenging attacks and come with background information that the narrator will tell you when you encounter them. The enemy’s tie in well with the story and the Bastion world helping to explain why they’re there in the first place, the games elements like the characters, levels and enemy’s fall together so well that you won’t notice any holes as the game fits together so well you’ll want to put this gorgeous place back together again with a passion.
When you complete a level and have nabbed that Core Crystal, you’ll return from the Skybridge to Bastion itself which is a floating area just waiting to be restored to its former glory. When you put the Core back into the monument in the centre of Bastion you can then resurrect one of the many buildings that’s used to support and defend Bastion itself. You use these to upgrade weapons, change weapons layouts and check out challenges. There’s also Idols to discover which adds a bonus to the amount of XP and Fragments you’ll pick up but also makes the game a little harder by making enemies more resilient or faster and even some potions to boost your health, speed or critical hit chances. You can also collect items scattered around levels to improve your weapons, they’re normally named like ‘’something stringy’’ and ‘’something greasy’’ which just adds a little more charm to this very lovable game.
Movement is incredibly fluid so the only thing you really need to watch out for is rolling of an edge now and then which doesn’t kill you, it just nabs some health from you. The games view is set at a top down angle, so there’s no problem spotting any treasures or enemies as there’s no adjusting the angle of sight. This in turn helps you focus on the world around you and creates enjoyable and flowing gameplay, this is another reason why you end up playing Bastion longer than you think you do.
There are hidden challenges too, all you really need to do is keep playing the game to find them. Bastion doesn’t hold anything out of the gamers reach too whether they’re a newcomer to the games scene or an old pro which is incredibly refreshing, the challenges and bosses just need a bit of practice and skill to complete which you pick up along the way. This is the first title to come from the Supergiant Games studio which is also an independent developer too, Bastion ended up winning a good handful or awards in the Independent Games Festival in 2011. The only thing I can really pick out as a problem would be the game has too many weapons to choose from and The Kid could benefit from a few more cool moves but the game itself more than makes up for it with its colourful charm and brilliant narrating.