Bastion Review

Ok, I had heard a lot of great things about Bastion over the course of last year, but I didn’t buy it until very recently, and I didn’t play it until last week. The original reason I started it was because of the Steam Christmas sale trophy which involved crossing the Wharf District’s Skyway without falling off. (Wharf District is pretty much the first level, and you’d have to either very careless or in a big rush to fall off it ^_^). After completing the trophy I was drawn to it, and returned to play it soon afterwards.

Bastion is quite a unique game. It is a very small game, relatively short, and rather simple at heart but it is diverse and very fun. The main story consists of you as “the kid” who runs around smashing things in order to find power gems to power the “Bastion”. The kid wakes up one day to find the world around him literally missing, and as he walks around the level tiles pop up out of thin air to make the level…it’s really cool. There’s a lot more to the story, but I’m not going to spell it out for you, if it sounds interesting then hop on Steam and find out for yourself.  As far as I know there is no retail version of it, so you’ll need Steam, Xbox live, or PSN to access it. The steam deluxe version comes with the soundtrack.

The first thing that I noticed when I started playing it was the incredible colors and backgrounds. It’s hard to describe just how beautiful they are, but here’s a shot of the main base, which has an incredible mix of colors:

The Skyway at the Bastion

Each of the many different levels has tons of different colors and different backgrounds which really add to the beauty of it. Often I would find myself stopping to take in the interesting art designs in the different levels. The individual items you can find in the game are incredibly well detailed and each thing looks great for a 2d game.

Aside from the colors, there are tons of other things that make Bastion a unique game. One of the other things that stood out most to me was the way the story was presented, it’s not presented in written words, but is instead narrated to the player by a character in the game. It is a really different narration style than I am used to, but it totally works. Even though you start off not really knowing what’s going on, the narrator explains the world and story in bits and pieces that all come together really well at the end helping the overall story become full-frame. The stories are all tied together and are quite moving. It wasn’t totally predictable either, which was pretty nice. (I started a new game plus and found myself being surprised about just how well I understood it second time round, )

The next thing that stood out for me was the soundtrack. The songs are very original and some are really interesting, while others are moody and some are melancholy. The songs usually complement the levels/situations very well, and later on you unlock a gramophone which allows you to listen to all of the games songs at the bastion. The soundtrack was the first major thing I heard about when I first heard Bastion spoken about, and it certainly does stand out.

There are a lot of different weapons and items you find scattered around the game (both melee and ranged), and there are plenty of upgrades for each of the weapons. The items genuinely add more to the background and help to tell us more about the story. There are also potions that you find scattered around the game that add to “the kids” abilities, and every-time you level up you unlock access to more potions slots. You find item upgrades for the weapons scattered on levels and you have to buy some with blue crystals you get from killing enemies and destroying stuff. Each of the weapons has a lot of upgrades, it’s difficult to get all the upgrades in one play-through.

The Bastion fully upgraded

Then there is the introduction of “idols”, Bastion initially doesn’t give you a difficulty setting, but once you unlock the shrine you also unlock access to 10 different idols/gods. You have to find the idols, (some are scattered around levels and others have to be bought, 2 are in a mission), but once you do find them, they each unlock different abilities that are given (surprise) to the enemy, not to you. These abilities include higher damage, more speed, and revenge upon death. Some of them make enemies really difficult, but it’s a really interesting way of making a diverse and adjustable difficulty setting.

Finally you have different items that you unlock when you find certain characters, and through the use of these items and dreams, you get to have the narrator tell you about the history of the kid, as well as the histories of the other characters that you meet while you run around whacking stuff and collecting crystals for upgrades, it’s pretty cool. (you can do it as many times as you want and you get a nice amount of crystals for it.)

Once you finish the game you have the option of starting a New Game + with all your abilities and stuff unlocked, which is very nice. A lot of things click once you start it again if you took the time to explore the game fully in your first play through.

Overall Bastion is one of the more unique games I have played from last year and I really liked it.

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~ by kain243 on February 14, 2012.

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