It’s been a while since I’ve played a game that’s trulyÂ immersedÂ me in itself, and really made me actually care about what’s going. I picked up Bastion thinking it to be a decent hack-and-slash downloadable title that would give me a good couple hour’s enjoyment.
Bastion is much, much more than it seems. Downloadable titles such as Limbo and BraidÂ can now be seen as redefining what it is to be download-only title, and Bastion does more than enough to stand alongside them.
The first thing that needs to be said is that Bastion is beautiful. The hand-drawn visual style – bright colours, effects attention to detail like the changing of seasons – really helps with the telling of the deep story that wraps up Bastion in the perfect package. You can easily see that this game has been a true labour of love.
The game is set in a fantasy world where a great disaster called ‘the calamity’ has literally ripped the world out of the ground to be left levitating in the air. You play a hero, only known as the Kid, who must set the world right. The entire game is narrated by a character met later, Rucks. His story-telling is moved on by your actions, and is dynamic in this respect to a degree. As with all the very best of stories, you know very little until the story develops.
Bastion’s story is really what adds that little bit extra to its story, and although the protagonist is voiceless, even he is given that third dimension that actually makes you care about him. A lot of the background of the story is explored through extra challenges where it’s your choice whether you want to do them or not. Speaking fromÂ personalÂ experience, you will.
Bastion’s gameplay is quite simple, but through that simplicity it is easy to master. As the game is a hack-slash RPG, you have two weapons equipped at all times, and one special ability. The Bastion itself – which acts as your home base – has an arsenal and forge where you can switch out different weapons and abilities, as well as upgrade them by finding items in the game world. While usually you’d have a close-combat weapon and a ranged weapon, you can mix this up and play however you want. The game contains a large amount of weapons, all unique in their own right, all requiring different tactics to use.
The areas in the game are pretty much linear levels of enemies to fight through, eventually getting to the core at the end of the mission – the item you need to stop the calamity. You can however, much in the same fashion as a lot of hack-and slash games, re-visit these areas to gain experience or try out new weapons. Aside from the main story are challenge areas for specific weapons, where if you complete them you can gain access to new materials or abilities.
While there is no difficulty setting (only normal and ‘no sweat mode), the Shrine building that is gained access to later on allows you to add certain effects on the enemies you fight to give yourself a bit more of challenge and gain some extra EXP and fragments (the game’s currency) in the process – it’s very similar to the skulls in Halo.
Health also has a welcome return in Bastion, a health bar in the top left, and a stock of health potions to replenish it. It’s nice to not have the ‘if the screen goes red find cover to regenerate your health’ system that’s appeared in a lot of games lately.
The combat in the game is standard hack-and-slash, adding in a roll to escape those tricky situations and a shield to counter attacks. About half-way through the game however, the scale of combat shifts from little enemies in urban environments to the wild, where there are a few big bosses, which is always welcome in a game like this.
On the whole, I thought that Bastion is a great game that really got me back into arcade hack-and-slashers, as well as opening my eyes to the downloadable titles available now that have a depth that even bigger titles lack. While the path of the story is quite linear gameplay-wise, you’ll get hooked on the story and won’t be able to stop playing until you’ve discovered the truth about the origins of the calamity and the Bastion itself. As a plus, the music composed for the game fits perfectly, and is also available as a soundtrack, which, if you’re a fan of instrumental stuff is an instant buy.
Story/Plot – 9/10
Gameplay – 8/10
Replay value – 7/10
Overall score – 8/10