Bastion is not only an exercise in quality visuals and musical score, blended with a moving and well-written narrative. It’s an excellent hack and slash with enough elements in it to keep the gameplay fresh.
Bastion follows The Kid who survives a devastating event called The Calamity. When he escapes to the Bastion – a safe place for such bleak times – he finds only one survivor and his world in ruins. Rucks (the survivor) informs him that to rebuild his world he must travel to what’s left of his homeland to recover cores. In doing so, The Kid is able to build new structures in the Bastion and restore some normality to the catastrophe once more.
Bastion’s new approach to storytelling is refreshing and certainly something I’ve never come across before. Rather then you playing through the eyes of the character in real time, your journey through the game is narrated by the future Rucks, talking in the past tense. This provokes a strange sensation that every move you make, every decision you take in the game has already happened, and you’re instead hearing the story being recounted by the storyteller, and watching it happen before you. Whilst this means the player doesn’t have the opportunity to relate to the mute protagonist, like all good tales, you want to know what happens at the end. Rucks is particularly good at telling this disaster story and providing some context to each area you visit. He’s also the only character in the game that has spoken dialogue. However, his western, assured personality makes him a likeable person, and someone you rely on as you play through Bastion.
But no matter how well the story is told, underneath the theatrics lies a very simple plot. The story doesn’t move that fast from beginning to end and you are more likely to get sucked into the universe and its history rather than your actual quest.
The floating world and vibrant environment make Bastion a joy to behold. As you walk the cobbled steps, your path is revealed gradually by rising from below. This fragmented and volatile world that threatens to collapse at any moment conveys both a sense of awe and trepidation. The eye candy is backed up by engrossing sound design, with music that’s not overused and kicks in at just the right time. When you’re left with bare environmental sound effects, there is an air of desolation that hangs over each aggressive and deserted territory.
Bastion is clearly an exercise in stunning music and colour. But beneath the vibrant graphics and mournful soundtrack lies a competent hack-and-slash that evolves as you play through the game. Weapons are either ranged or melee, but gameplay can change depending on your loadout. The musket is perfect for clearing large groups of weak enemies, whilst the Breaker’s Bow, when charged up, can be devastatingly effective. Tertiary weapons are limited in supply and range from grenades to an object that summons a Squirt to fight for your side to a shield that reflects all damage for a short period of time. You can upgrade current equipment at the Forge, as well as buy new tonics (which are passive abilities) and unlock new upgrades at the Lost & Found. The RPG elements of the game are nailed here, with the wide range of weaponry and upgrades offering tantalizing benefits that push you to keep playing.
Bastion conveys its beautiful, vibrant world like an artist creates a scene in a work of art. Its immaculate detail and variation in fierce flora and fauna make it a memorable and very immersive experience. This, combined with a spirited narrative and excellent sound work, make Bastion a sensual experience that should be enjoyed more for its gameplay and eye candy rather than a gripping story.
Publisher: Warner Bros.
Price: $14.99 (£14.99)
Genre: Hack and Slash RPG
Pros: Beautiful world, strong narrator, brilliant sound design, addicting upgrade trees, varied gameplay.
Cons: Plot is basic at its core.