Video Game Review from the Vault: Bastion

(Posted to my Facebook page on February 19, 2015)

I said I needed to finish Bastion, and finish it I did. Here’s what I thought.

Bastion is a third person isometric-view adventure game made by Supergiant Games. A unique, colorful art style with an interesting world will draw you in, and an incredible adventure will keep you playing to the bitter end.

The story follows a nameless protagonist that the narrator simply calls The Kid. The Kid wakes up one day to find that the world around him has crumpled, leaving him floating on a piece of land in the middle of nowhere. As he moves, platforms come up to make a path for him, but he sees that his survival was rare and almost everyone else he sees has been turned to stone. This event is referred to as “The Calamity.” He makes his way to a safe place called The Bastion where he meets the narrator named Rucks (Who, might I say, is voiced by a Morgan Freeman-sounding man named Logan Cunningham and makes the experience all the more enjoyable). He says that The Kid needs to find cores to help restore The Bastion to power. On the way, The Kid finds a few other survivors, foreigners named Zulf and Zia, but that’s about all I can say about the story without ruining anything, but it’s a supreme example of mixing gameplay and narrative, as Rucks keeps you up to speed about the environment and everything going on without needing to break pace for a cutscene more than a few short times.

The game itself takes you to many different locations to hunt cores, during which you’ll fight a huge variety of creatures. You get an impressive selection of weapons, ranging from a warhammer to a repeating rifle to a machete and lots of other weapons later in the game that I don’t want to spoil. Different unlockable secret techniques, leveling up weapons, and buying new tonics allow you to switch up your play style, and along with the huge number of enemies to take down, the combat never feels stale. One complaint about the weapons is that there seem to be far more ranged weapons than melee weapons, and having a few more options for up close would have been appreciated. Some of the ranged weapons work better up close, but they still lack the feel of a melee weapon, which makes it all the more frustrating that there are only three or four melee weapons compared to the seven or eight ranged weapons.

There are bonus activities to keep you entertained as well, each weapon has a training area where you can hone your skills and unlock new items and abilities, there are collectible items that reveal more about the world, and each character has a challenge room where you hold out against waves of enemies while Rucks tells you the story of that particular character, adding quite a bit of depth to the stories. In-game achievements and god shrines that increase the difficulty give you a chance to work to gain some new upgrade materials, which are very helpful as the game ramps up in difficulty.

As I said before, the art style stands out and this is a beautiful game. Standing out from the browns and grays you might see in some gloomier games, Bastion keeps the pallet colorful and fun to look at, and even when the scenes call for some more dramatic coloring, it’s still a marvel to look at. Cunningham does an excellent job as one of the only voices in the story (Very important, since if his voice actor flubbed the entire game, it would quickly become tiring to listen to him.) and, as I mentioned in the video game music month, it has one of the greatest songs in a game of all time, along with plenty of other excellent scores.

The controls do their job well enough; I played this on the PC, so I can’t really comment on the console version all too well. It’s simple enough and doesn’t bog you down with any complex combos or anything.

The game is pretty short, coming in at only about 8-9 hours, depending how much faffing about you do or if you just power through straight to the end. However, for the asking price of $15 (Or even cheaper, during a sale), it’s a bargain.

This game isn’t without its problems, however. The isometric camera looks cool, but can make fighting a pain, making it difficult to land hits at certain angles. Once you complete the game, New Game + opens up, but otherwise, there are no other modes or Co-Op to extend the game’s life, meaning you’ll probably put it down pretty quickly once you finish it for the first time.

However, the story hits home, and the combat quickly becomes frantic and exciting, making this a game that everyone should at least try. It may not seem like much, but just like with The Kid, appearances can be deceiving.

I give Bastion a 4 out of 5.

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