Bastion Review Bit
|Platforms:||XBox Live Arcade, Windows|
|Release Date:||July 20, 2011|
For the first week of XBox Live’s “Summer of Arcade” we’re treated to a downloadable Action/RPG by SuperGiant Games, Bastion. For $15 (or 1200 Stupidsoft points) you can hack and smash your way through this bright and colorful adventure.
Bastion takes place mere moments after the world has broken into pieces in an event called the Calamity. You are simply, “the Kid” who awakens in his bed to find that everything is pretty screwed up. Your first task is to make your way to the Bastion, a safe heaven where everyone agreed to go to in case of such an event. There he meets up with an old man named Rucks, who tells him together they can save the world. The Kid then embarks on a journey by traveling to several far off locations to collect crystal cores which help restore the Bastion to its former glory.
It is a very simple plot but it still resonates strongly. The story is told by Rucks in something they call, “dynamic narration”. Basically Rucks is telling the story as it happens. Your actions as the Kid, directly reflect what Rucks may say. If you decide to stay around a certain spot and smash everything in site, or if you’re getting whooped on by multiple enemies, Rucks will add that to the story. It is a very charming feature that adds to the game’s story book feel. I also, really appreciated the new take on the silent protagonist. As you may know, I personally hate silent protagonists as they usually come off as wimpy, workhorses who just go along with everything. But having someone tell a story about you gives you the feeling that you’re really doing something special.
The game is broken up just as the world is. Through the use of a world map you can fly to large floating chunks of land. Upon arrival the land will slowly rebuild itself beneath your feet as if the world is coming back to life. Each level and the overall game design is bright and and colorful which is an accomplishment considering the world just suffered a massive catastrophe. Your goal for each stage is to find a core and return it to the Bastion. The Bastion itself is the game’s main hub. By collecting cores you can rebuild a variety of buildings to either change your arsenal, upgrade weapons, buy items, or complete challenges to earn money.
Fighting in the game is very simple yet addicting and fun. There is a good variety of enemies and they do a great job at introducing new ones just as you tire from fighting others. As you work your way through the game you’ll grab a variety of melee and range weapons. As long as you have the armory built, you can swap out weapons to create whatever combination you prefer. It adds a great amount of customization and Rucks even has a few words about the weapons you chose.
As a sort of distraction and a way to upgrade your weapons, there are bonus stages scattered throughout the game. The first are the challenge courses which test your ability with each weapon to earn rewards. These stages provide enough of a challenge to make you want to keep trying, but not to the degree that they become frustrating. The second bonus stages are in areas called, “Who Knows Where”. In the Bastion certain items will trigger a sort of dreamlike state for the Kid where Rucks will narrate a story about a certain character while you fight waves of incomming monsters. These can be very difficult especially when you use Idols, small trinkets that can be activated to give the enemies different advantages. Both of these sidequest type modes were very welcome as they were incorporated into the story and offered the necessary distraction and challenge to make the game even more fun.
I had a really great time with Bastion and I plan on using the New Game Plus feature to level up all my weapons, active more Idols, and grab a few miscellaneous items I left behind. The unique narration, simple yet challenging gameplay, customization, replayability and the beautiful colors and level design really make this a game for everybody. My only complaint is that it’s only on XBL so my co-host Brian will have to wait to give this one a shot.