Developer: Supergiant Games
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Platform(s): Xbox Live Arcade, PC (Steam)
Bastion has been out for a good amount of time on the XBLA, but recently made its way over to the PC. On the surface, it looks like your standard action-RPG that is so very common these days. That is what I thought going into this game, and I am pleased to say I was wrong.
A lot of games try to stand out these days by going with a more unique art design and look as opposed to having the most cutting-edge visuals possible. Bastion is one of those games, but the visual style is one of the strongest parts of the game. The visuals have a watercolor look to them, as the bright and vibrant colors of the world around almost seem to bleed and meld together. As you travel around the world, the ground rises up to meet you. Although this may seem like a gimmick, trust me when I say walking around watching it happen never gets old.
|Watching the world being formed around you is super cool|
The music of Bastion fits the game very well. It is for the most part nothing too groundbreaking, but consists mostly of solid tracks that fit their respective levels/areas well. I know this may seem like a bit of a cop-out, but the best way to get an understanding for what I mean is to simply play the game.
The voice acting, on the other hand, is a completely different story. Everything you do is narrated by a character first labeled as "Stranger". You learn his true identity later, but you won't get any spoilers from me. Anyway, this Stranger pretty gives you a play-by-play of what you are doing. Nine times out of 10 this would be a major annoyance, but he has such a deep and soothing yet mysterious voice that you can't help but keep playing just to hear what he has to say next.
This is where I was really surprised by Bastion. If you were to just watch a few short clips, you would think that this game is just your standard hack and slash action-RPG. For the most part, you would be right. However, there is actually a pretty large amount of depth and customization here. As you defeat foes and break apart parts of the environment, you gain shards, which act as the in-game currency. You can use these, along with components you find lying around the world, to upgrade your weapons with mods and special abilities as you see fit. You can also use these to purchase Spirits, or drinks that give you passive bonuses. If this seems like standard stuff, there is also an in-game achievement system and totems that you can collect that make the game harder in certain ways but also ramp up the rewards. The best part about a lot of these upgrades is that they are hidden until you come near them and the path to them quite literally appears out of nowhere.
Now the Bastion itself (pictured above) acts as your home base throughout the game. You play as a boy simply called "The Kid", and The Calamity has destroyed the whole world around you. The Bastion was not exempt from this destruction and must be rebuilt. It is here that you can place the structures that allow you to customize your gear and overall game experience to your liking. It is also here that you embark on your journeys to the many worlds of the game. These worlds include challenges for specific weapons and wave-based challenge maps in addition to the levels that advance the story.
|"Fly on your way like an eagle, fly as high as the sun"|
The combat in Bastion is smooth and fast paced, and the mouse allows you to aim each individual strike and shot, as opposed to a controller (the game supports gamepads, I just have not used one with it) which makes you rely on the games auto-target system. The targeting system works well enough from what I can tell with the mouse and keyboard, I just wouldn't want to rely on it in a tight situation.
|Shards can be used for many things, including weapon upgrades|
Visuals/Presentation: Great art direction, and the ground literally forms under your feet.
Music/Sound: Soundtrack is solid but not groundbreaking, voice acting makes up for it.
Gameplay: Fast-paced yet simple to control. Level design clashes with controls at times.