Allow me to elaborate briefly on a controversial opinion I’ve held for some time: I firmly believe that abstraction, in both concept and practice, is uninteresting in any sort of still art. This includes, primarily, photography and painting. Once again, I’ll elaborate. [Read more...]
Bastion is beautiful; there is no getting around it. Not just in visual art, but narrative as well. Every action you take has a deeper impact in the narrative than you would ever think possible. Instead of reading millions of lines in a codex, the world is explained through an omnipresent narrator with one of the most intoxicating voices in a game.
Discovering the lore and unraveling the story of Bastion is part of the appeal to this game, so going into too much detail is blasphemy. You play as the Kid, who wakes up after an apocalyptic event called the calamity. The Kid is alone in the world, except for a voice looming over him, explaining the story as the game unfolds. Not just saying “The Kid goes right” but explaining why that path was chosen, or why another one wasn’t, along with illuminating the history of different enemies and environments. This narrator doesn’t just spout out lines of information; he speaks his mind and his opinions on events are ever present. The rest of this gripping tale is up for the players to figure out.
Bastion can cater to all combat types with eleven distinctly different weapons from pistols to spears. The Kid is able to carry two of these weapons along with a shield, and one special skill at a time. In addition, the Kid can also equip special tonics that act as buffs. Gameplay is from an isometric view, however Bastion employs a real time combat system. Some enemies even have the ability to hit the ground hard enough to loosen chunks of the world, adding a twist on player strategy.
Free 360-degree control is given to the player to move all along the level. When moving through the world it is rather linear, with paths rising and falling before you. However, the landscape opens up wide for battles against multiple enemies and adds branching paths that usually lead to dead ends.
While only one path can lead to the objective, the journey there never ceases to amaze the eyes. Vibrant colors leap off the screen and you feel transported to a world full of wonder. One level may take you through an abandoned burning town, the next you’ll be in a lush, green jungle. Each area feels different than the last, all while retaining a similar world palette.
If Bastion becomes too easy, just throw on some Idols, making the enemies stronger and faster among other effects. Triggering these Idols also gives increased money and XP to the player. Every item, tonic, and Idol has a unique story beat to it making them engaging and entertaining to experiment with.
If the story isn’t enough, Bastion also supplies many weapon challenges to tackle. These challenges help teach how to use specific load-outs to the best of their ability, as well as introduce more depth to the world. Three arenas also await those who dare accept the challenge. Don’t be deterred by the wave based mode, these arenas bring even more backstory and depth to the few characters in the game, making the content difficult to disregard.
Bastion is a must play game and an excellent debut title for indie developer Supergiant Games. While it isn’t without flaws, such as long load times and the rare frame rate dip, the pros far out weigh any con. Great story, music, and art all mold together into one excellent title that no one should overlook.
Score: 9.5 out of 10