A kid and his calamity.
When the Calamity has struck and your home has been destroyed – what do you do? In Bastion, you pick up your trusted hammer and get to building the Bastion. What is the Bastion? Well, it’s a sort of safe haven that you’ll slowly piece together by picking up and dedicating crystals to it.
If I said anything further, the entire mystique of the narrative will be uncovered; of course, we’ll touch again on the exposition, but Bastion is a game both worthy of your attention and left unspoiled.
The first aspect of Bastion that most gamers will observe first is its beautiful coloration and presentation. From the opening moments of the game, Bastion is an artistic display that never stops. Each map explored literally falls into place like a puzzle, with each piece being a detailed segment of map. Enemies and your character look hand drawn, and the movements of every set piece or character flow with impressive precision.
At a brief five or six hours of gameplay, Bastion isn’t exactly a lengthy experience. Fortunately, for gamers, the game is both inexpensive and loads of fun. Content is actually brimming if you care to look past the storyline. None of this, however, would matter if the gameplay wasn’t up to par. Bastion plays as a top-down action-rpg, a sort of hybrid of a twin-stick shooter and a hack-and-slash.
You play as whom the narrator refers to as “the Kid”, and you battle your way through numerous stages accomplishing various missions. Gameplay in Bastion is quite varied and tight, allowing for the player to mix and match ranged and melee weapons while figuring out which special he/she prefers to wield. For most of the game, I rolled with either the hammer or the spear and the revolvers.
Of course, various combinations were meant to be played together, though each weapon complimented every weapon, so you could successfully build a number of offensive arsenals to dispatch your foes. Square and circle were used to attack, while x was used a roll/dodge. Triangle was reserved for using healing potions, R2 used your special (which required a certain item to use), and L2 popped up your shield (which allowed you to deflect, if timed properly, enemy attacks back at them).
As you proceed through the story, you obtain crystals and shards used in upgrading the Bastion. With each crystal or shard, you can build or upgrade a building within your Bastion. These buildings could range from the armory (where you can switch out your weapons) to a shrine (where you could choose an idol to change the way your game played.
Weapons are pretty upgradeable should you find their components, and when you level, you could choose a new beverage to put in your distillery. These drinks enhanced the kid’s abilities in combat and were very useful. Upgrading the buildings allowed for additional upgrades, idols, hidden talents, and rare drinks to be placed in the distillery.
The coolest aspect of Bastion, for me, was the narration. As I mentioned earlier, you play as a kid awakened during the end of times – the Calamity. Each action you undertake as the kid is narrated – even up to breaking a barrel.
For example, when you destroy the ashen figures of people you used to know, the narrator reflects upon that person’s life. When you picked up your hammer, the narrator talks about your relationship with the weapon. Heck, even when I accidentally rolled off the map the first time, the narrator cracked a joke about dying (which I didn’t; I just took damage). To make the experience even better, the narration was extremely well done.
Now, I mentioned the short campaign length. Bastion runs $14.99 regularly, though it’s often on sale (I paid less than $4.00). For $14.99, a five-to-six hour campaign doesn’t seem too lengthy (though when you compare it to, say, Call of Duty, it’s pretty long). There is, however, a plethora of optional content in the game.
You can take a puff of smoke via a hookah of sorts and battle your way through a series of challenges. Once you’ve unlocked each weapon, a trial opens up on the map for you to attempt, too. Each trial requires skill with each weapon in order to claim the top prize (there are three prizes per trial).
When I think about my brief time with Bastion, I can only remember positives. Sure, falling off the maps was a frequent endeavor, but that was always my fault and sloppiness. Yes, sometimes aiming weapons became a chore, but often it was, again, my fault. The controls were pretty tight, and the areas were brief enough where the autosave feature (which I believe only activated once you landed back in the Bastion) worked well. The soundtrack was fine, but the narration by, essentially, the only speaking character (though Zia speaks at the end) was phenomenal. I highly recommend trying this indie title because the narrative alone is worth the enjoyable toil. With plenty of gameplay, a myriad choice in town features, and a solid voice performance by the awesome narrator, Bastion is worthy of the risk.