Before I start this review I have a confession to make; despite the game having originally released ages ago, and despite the fact I actually own the title on Steam, I have never actually played Bastion until now and with complete honesty, I really wish I had played it sooner. The indie smash hit from developers Supergiant Games created a wonderfully charming, beautiful and enjoyable game and I regret having waited this long to give it a whirl.
Bastion tells the story of our main character known only as ‘The Kid‘, who wakes up to find the city he calls home in ruins and nearly all of the inhabitants gone. Following ‘The Catastrophe‘, our hero must collect shards, cores, and any other souls who may have survived in order to rebuild the main hub of the game, the Bastion. The hope is with the Bastion rebuilt the rest of the city may follow. As far as the back story to the Kid, we are given small bits as we progress throughout the game, which lets the players piece it all together and makes for a very interesting storytelling process.
Building the Bastion consists of adding an armoury, distillery (used to apply power-up brews or ‘spirits‘), a shrine for activating blessings, and much more. It is here you will return to re-tool and modify your powers and weapons along the way. The constant stream of new weapons, powers, unlockables and the act of adding new buildings to your hub is what keeps you going back for more. The game gives an enormous sense of accomplishment and growth as you progress through the story.
The game plays much like you would expect from an action RPG, using the same sort of camera angle you may know from the recent Zelda 3DS titles. You battle a wide variety of baddies with an equally wide arsenal of weapons and power-ups. I fancy the machete and make-shift blunderbuss as my weapons of choice, but with two different weapons available to carry at any given time, the combinations are large. You also get a power up called a ‘secret skill‘. This can be anything from trip mines to hand grenades to even spawning minions of your own to help during the battle. All of these can be upgraded with collected crystals and various different materials you will find throughout the world or purchase from the ‘Lost and Found‘ building (after you have built it that is).
The combat is wonderful. Different weapons are more effective on some enemies and less effective on others. There is also a dodge and block ability which makes combat much deeper than you would expect. While the game does allow you to retry when you die, this is limited to one per world. So do not expect a walk in the park, unless of course you choose the aptly named ‘No Sweat‘ difficulty. In my experience the game’s difficulty feels perfect. If you do however find it a bit too easy, you can select various modifiers in the ‘Shrine‘. These range from faster, harder or even explosive enemies, and they reward you with more XP or crystals.
The game also includes arenas named ‘Proving Grounds‘. In these areas you can test your skill with different weapons you have collected. Depending on your performance, the game rewards you with upgrade materials and of course your crystal currency. The game has quite a bit of content to offer to say the least.
Visually the game looks gorgeous. The beautifully crafted, hand drawn environment seemingly builds itself in front of your eyes. Mixed with great use of bloom, background layering, and overall masterful art design, this game is just a sight to behold. It’s easily one of the prettiest titles I’ve played. Now don’t go in expecting to see photo realistic graphics comparable toThe Order, because this is a different kind of visual experience. It just shows how very artistic a video game can be.
Sound design is also fantastic. From the narrating voice-over which guides and describes what is happening on screen throughout, to the fantastic musical score. Each area’s music recaptured my interest in a new way, giving each level and world its very own personality. If you enjoyed the music from Transistor, you’re sure to love Bastion’s soundtrack as well.
Overall, Bastion is a testament to video game art. Not only does it look and sounds beautiful, it also plays great. If you haven’t played this title yet, do it. It’s a game I can see myself playing again in ten years and falling in love with all over again.