Supergiant Games’ Bastion was on my watch list from the second I saw its gorgeous art style. Since then, I’ve been counting down the days till I could finally pick up this game and see what it was all about.
Now that the game is out, I had the chance to download my pre-ordered copy and jump into the catastrophe known as “the Calamity”.
In Bastion (available on XBLA and Steam), you take on the role of “The Kid” as he explores what remains of the world after the Calamity hits. As you explore each area, you try to find and retrieve special items that will restore the Bastion by adding different resources such as a distillery, forge, or shrine. It’s pretty straight forward, play through a level, obtain weapons and currency, upgrade items, fight some baddies here and there and then reach the goal. Repeat until done. Of course, there are hundreds if not thousands of games that follow this basic formula so let’s look at what makes Bastion stand apart.
The first thing you’ll notice when starting up Bastion is the narration. The way the narration flows as you progress through a level is impressive and adds a unique feel to the game. Even falling off of the level’s platforms will result in a new line of narration coming up. During one part of the game, as I was running away from falling platforms, I began to roll instead. Sure enough, the narrator made a comment about it. I can only imagine how many small bits of audio are in the game that I have yet to hear simply because I didn’t play a level a particular way.
The combat in the game is simple: you have two slots for weapons and a special skill or ability, which can either require a certain weapon, or something such as grenades, mines etc. There’s also the ability to roll to help avoid enemy attacks (I find myself rolling quite a bit simply because it’s faster than walking). You start off with a hammer and the repeater and the list of weapons goes up from there. There are melee weapons such as a hammer, machete and spear as well as projectile weapons such as the repeater, carbine, and dual pistols. The number of weapons and skills allow for a variety of setups, allowing the player to take two melee weapons, two projectile weapons or one of each. At first, I figured that I would have a favorite melee/projectile weapon combo. But just as I was getting used to one set up, I’d be introduced to a new weapon that I liked better. The game offers weapon upgrades that can vastly improve your weapons of choice. Simply collect the necessary amount of currency and a weapon specific upgrade item and head to a Forge.
You travel to each new area by flying… which is essentially launching The Kid into the air and watching him arrive at the chosen destination by falling flat on his face. Apart from the ordinary levels on the map, there are also special areas that will help you master the various weapons that are available in the game. In these areas you’re given a specific task such as destroying a certain number of targets under a given time. There are three possible rewards for these trials, the better your rank, the more rewards you can earn which usually includes a weapon upgrade item and a skill for that weapon.
After a level, if you’re lucky enough to find one of the items to upgrade the Bastion, you’ll be able to build a new structure to aid you during your adventure. The forge is used to upgrade weapons, the distillery allows you to attach some nice personal upgrades such as increase the number of health tonics you can carry or decrease the amount of damage taken. The Shrine is an interesting structure because it doesn’t help make your journey any easier. In fact the sole purpose of it is to invoke the wrath of the gods of your choosing that will make the game more challenging while also offering higher currency and experience point rewards.
So far I’ve only been able to enable about four of them at once and still be able to go through and area without getting a beat down. Those out there who are able to enable all twelve and kick some bad guy butt without dying are much better men than I.
The Short Version
I found Bastion to be a great game. The visuals are beautiful, the narration is well done, the story feels solid and the soundtrack is so good that I even purchased the album to listen to when I’m not playing the game. I beat the game in a day, but there’s a New Game Plus mode that’s sure to keep me entertained for quite awhile.