Review: Bastion

Being the first game I’ve ever finished on my brand spankin’ new Steam account, Bastion will, from now on, hold a special place in my heart. But biases aside, Bastion consists of an array of qualities that are the makings of a great game; the beautiful backgrounds, the fantastic soundtrack and of course, as Kaushik calls it, the angelic voice of the narrator… they’re all there. So, need I say more? Well, I suppose I always do.

And without further ado, let’s dig in! Itadakimasu~

Bastion is actually very small, for a game of its quality. It’s about 800 megabytes, and even at the sad speed of my internet, it finished downloading within an hour. Going into the game, there are the usual options to read the instruction manual (which I only skimmed) and to change the controls, among others. I’m only a casual gamer, so I don’t actually have a great mouse. The default controls call for moving with the WASD keys and attacking with mouse-clicks. I changed them to moving with the directionals and attacking with the ASD keys. For some games, playing without a mouse a great hindrance, but it’s only a minor setback in Bastion, which is one of the reasons I like it.

Just chillin' here, y'know.

The very beginning of the game is pretty much like a tutorial. You learn how to move around, attack, dodge, etc… What surprised me the most was that you start out on a floating island, and as you walk, the ground forms beneath your feet. This happens every time you go to a new place. It might not be all that special, but it’s really cool to watch. Even without this effect, the backgrounds were amazingly detailed anyways, so I have no complaints on the graphics front whatsoever.

Ground be so high, forming on its own and shit.

I was also surprised by how intuitive the narration was. Every person will do different things as they play, but the narrator always says something relavent. Plus, his voice is so great, you never get tired of hearing it.

So, you start out with knowing nothing about the plot. All you know is that the narrator calls you “the Kid,” and that a lot of people died and you’re one of the few survivors. However, the story slowly falls into place as your progress through different towns in the world map. The narrator will talk about how there were peoples who basically hated each other: those from Caelondia and those from Ura. These two peoples were once at war with one another, but eventually came to peace. However, during this time of peace, Caelondia created a biological weapon that turned people into statues with the intention of wiping out the Uras. This plan backfired, and ended up wiping out nearly everyone. This event was called the Calamity.

This is where the Bastion comes in. It’s some sort of Caelondian safe haven, it seems, and has the power to turn back time and restore normality… given that you venture back to all the towns of Caelondia and recover their cores. The towns are overrun by monsters and rabid animals, so you have to get through them for the cores. Each town has monsters unique their the environment, and so you have to find weapons that can effectively combat your enemies.

You can also build six structures in the Bastion, including a forgery, an arseny, and a distillery. They upgrade your weapons (forgery) and your own stats (distillery), as well as make the enemies stronger to give you more EXP (the shrine) and let you buy special items (lost-and-found). There are separate training grounds on which you can practice using your new weapons as well as earn items that are used to upgrade your weapons.

Front: Kid and Rucks || Back: Zulf and Zia

Aside from the narrator (he’s an actual character named Rucks) and the Kid, there are two other key players in the game: Zulf and Zia, both were Uras who lived in Caelondia before the Calamity struck. Zulf was an ambassador from Ura while Zia was born in Caelondia. However, when Zulf learned of the truth behind the Calamity, he wrecks the Bastion and joins a group of surviving Ura. Zia also gets kidnapped, although she comes back (well, you save her) once she fails to change Zulf’s mind. But, since the Bastion is wrecked, your job is to collect core shards.

There are two times where you actually get to choose what to do in the game: when you find Zulf near-death and when you decide what to do with the Bastion. With Zulf, you can choose to leave him to die or to bring him back to the Bastion. That one was obvious. With the Bastion, Zia learns from the narrator that the Bastion also has an “evacuation” function, where it basically blows up the cores and moves the survivors to a safer place instead of rewinding time. So you can choose to either take the “Restoration” or the “Evacuation” route.

Don’t play the video if you don’t want to get spoiled!

If you choose to safe Zulf, you basically walk slowly out of Ura territory with Zulf on your back. The scene is so moving. After all you’ve been through, you still choose to save the friend who betrayed you. Everyone’s shooting at you, but you take it like a man. The music plays a key part in this poignant minute or so. I really couldn’t have chosen a better soundtrack for this game.

The anklegator, one of the most annoying creatures to fight.

There were only a few things I didn’t like about the game. First off, when you found a new weapon in a town, you have no choice but to switch to the new weapon. Whatever was in the slot before would be moved automatically to the arsenal. It’s minor nit-picking, but it would have been nice to be able to choose to just stash the new weapon in the arsenal. One other thing I thought could have been utilized more was jumping. You can’t jump until you get to the second half of the very last stage. It’s actually kind of silly how something basic like this wasn’t accessible until so late in the game. Finally, although the game was fun for me, I wonder if it wasn’t too easy for everyone else?

And with that question, I’m out. Feel free to comment, and thanks for reading! Gochisousama deshita~

Rating Breakdown
Everything from the godly narration to the unique plot execution, this game really brings it.
The gameplay is pretty simple. It doesn't require a huge deal of strategy except for in certain optional stages, so it seems this game would be fun for both a casual and avid gamer. However, the game didn't utilize jumping until the very last stage, which seems like a waste.
The vibrant colors and lush fairy-tale backgrounds render me useless on the complaints front here.
It's always hardest to impress me with sound, but Bastion really nails it.
Definitely a game you can more than once, since you can unlock different endings. I don't think you'd want to play more than 2 or 3 times though.
There is no reason not to play this game. If it had to have a downfall, it would be that it's too short.

Miscellaneous details:

Developer: Supergiant Games
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Notable people involved: Jen Zee (artist)
Available on: XBLA, PC, Google Chrome Web Store, Mac App Store
Reviewed on: PC
Genre: Action RPG
Rating: E10+
Release date: July 20th, 2011 (XBLA), August 16th, 2011 (Steam), December 9th, 2011 (Chrome), April 26th, 2012 (Mac)

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Just someone who was born with mugibrows.


Just someone who was born with mugibrows.

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