This week’s review is on an earlier indie title, one that a lot of people may already have, thanks to Humble Bundle efforts. A hack and slash title from Supergiant Games, with a twist on storytelling, we have Bastion. Let’s go!
Not to be confused with a turret robot from another game, Bastion is a hack-and-slash action game where you play as “The Kid,” waking up in the aftermath of an apocalyptic event known only as The Calamity. Make your way to the Bastion, the namesake of the game and the city’s place of refuge in case of disaster, only to find a single survivor and a job to do. Using the Cores of the city, the power source of what remains of Caelondia, power the Bastion and rebuild what was lost. Gather and equip a wide variety of weapons, from the Cael Hammer and Breaker’s Bow to machetes, repeaters, muskets and more. With Secret Skills, make the most of your weapons and supplies, using hammer spins, throwing hand grenades, and calling on enemies to lend a hand. Travel out into the floating remains of Caelondia, find out if anyone else survived the Calamity, and determine the future of everything else in: Bastion.
When it comes to looks, Bastion is quite the looker. The artistic style of Bastion is excellent, a sort of stylized, cartoonish design that really makes it stand out. The character designs are good, the main character’s animations are clear and unique for all of the weapons he wields. The enemy designs are unique, but frequently repeated for some of the areas you explore, with more difficult enemies often being bigger and/or green versions of enemies you’ve already beaten. Altogether, the game looks great, and while not amazing at first, enemy variety greatly increases up later on.
Like many of the games I review, Bastion has an amazing soundtrack. To go along with the unique visual form, Bastion has an altogether original musical style, described as “acoustic frontier trip hop” by its composer Darren Korb. Using a wide variety of percussive beats and strings, strummed, plucked and drawn, Korb has created music that perfectly captures the atmosphere that Bastion needed. You can listen to it here.
When it comes to its core gameplay, Bastion is pretty simple. The introductory level gives a great starting point for how much of the game will unfold. It starts you off in the middle of things, not knowing how or why things are the way they are, but the path forward is clear as it rises up beneath your feet as you walk forward. You pick up a hammer, and enemies show up for you to get a handle on combat. Then you pick up a bolt-firing repeater, and then a bow, both ranged weapons with different capabilities to modify how you tackle combat. You are given health potions you can down when low on hit points, and tonics that allow you to use secret skills, like a spinning attack with your hammer, or a bouncing arrow strike from your bow. With each new area you encounter, you find another weapon or skill to add to your ever-growing arsenal. Keep in mind that you can only have two weapons at a time, however, along with one secret skill, no matter how many you pick up. It’s altogether straight-forward and on the simple side, but this simplicity is its strength.
It is important to note, however, that while all of this is going on, the exploring, the fighting, and all, there is narration for every event that transpires, including your specific actions as the player. In a deep somewhat gruff voice, the action of the game is recounted in story, spoken as if being retold from some future moment. This narration is what really sets Bastion above many other games, as it gives depth to the story alongside gameplay in a way that few other games have done. While making your way to the Bastion for the first time, the narrator, who happens to be the survivor you find later at the Bastion, details the trials and tribulations of your journey there, past numerous enemies and through Rondy’s old saloon, the Sole Regret. This narration also includes things like taking the time to smash up the environment, where he’ll say, “The Kid rages for a while,” and even losing his train of thought when you lose all of your hit points. While playing through each level, the narrator gives insight and background information on the world and what it was like before the Calamity. Between the style of narrative given here, how it unfolds, and its amazing delivery, it makes Bastion an experience to remember.
Back on the gameplay, there are the finer aspects of playing the game that can be modified. As you progress through the game, you unlock various stations at the Bastion that allow you to upgrade yourself and change out equipment. You gain access to an arsenal, for customizing equipment and skills, a forge, for upgrading your equipment, and a distillery, which gives additional passive ability options, like more health or a chance to strike enemies critically. From there, there are additional, less required buildings you can use, such as the lost-and-found, for trading resources for items, the memorial, which gives money for completing challenges, and the shrine, where you can invoke the gods for additional challenge and rewards in the normal gameplay, beefing up enemies in return for more experience and money. Combined with New Game +, Bastion can maintain challenging gameplay for quite some time.
Bastion was Supergiant Games’ first release, and is a game I enjoy greatly. Between the music, gameplay, unique visuals, and narration, it’s become one of my favorite games. Due to the number of bundles Bastion has been in, thanks to Humble Bundle, it’s quite possible that many reading this already own the game! If you don’t already have it, and want to give Bastion a shot yourself, there are plenty of places to find it. Bastion can be found on Steam, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Playstation 4, Playstation Vita, and iOS.
This should be the first out of three reviews I make for games by Supergiant Games. This will be followed up by a review on Transistor, and then a review on Pyre. That’s all for now though, see you later!