The voice of reason
Xbox Live’s 2011 Summer of Arcade started off extremely strong with Supergiant Games’s debut title Bastion. From the moment you wake up on a colorful, floating island, a deep voice begins narrating your every move and you know you are in for something fresh and beautiful. Bastion is a throwback to old school overhead action RPGs with some very new school ingredients mixed in and it works.
The story starts off with your character, the Kid, waking up and rolling out of a bed perched on a floating platform. As you get to your feet you hear a voice, almost as if it’s in your head, “He gets up and heads to the Bastion.” It goes on to explain the world around you has been destroyed by the Calamity and the Bastion is, “the safe haven everyone agreed to go in case of trouble.” As you set out, you run into your long-time close companion, the Cael Hammer. Your journey is still the same, only now you can smash stuff. After knocking out a few enemies in what used to be a populated city, you reach the Bastion. Here, you meet the person who has been speaking since the moment you woke up, and it looks as if he is the only survivor of the Calamity. He is simply known as the Stranger.
Set with the dangerous task of rebuilding the Bastion and repairing the damage caused by the Calamity, the Kid’s adventure takes you through the formerly populated districts of Caelondia, the overgrown jungles of the Wilds and into the heart of the Terminals, the territory of the Ura tribe. However, you won’t be alone during all of this. Throughout the Kid’s travels, the Stranger’s voice is there with you; telling your story and everything in-between.
The gameplay seems one dimensional at first but you soon realize there is more depth than you think. The controls are simple yet addictive, with a variety of both close-combat and long-range weapons that you can mix and match, leaving you with different ways to approach each area. As you hack and shoot your way through the game, you will find elixirs that can alter damage and defense and you will unlock idols that, while making the levels and enemies more difficult, also allow you to gain more XP. The Kid is only able to carry two weapons at a time, though, so with a huge arsenal at your fingertips, you will want to keep playing to find the best steel that fits your style.
If an interesting story and engaging gameplay aren’t enough for you, don’t worry – Bastion does not lack for presentation either. This game is beautiful. The world of Bastion comes to life and is built underneath your feet as you proceed. Colors pop out as you explore each unique location and battle detailed enemies in environments that give the sense that you are playing on the canvas of a watercolor painting.
The music in Bastion is fitting, atmospheric; in short, a masterpiece. It has hints of old spaghetti western music peppered throughout, which really sets the mood when you are strutting around with your six shooters unholstered. At other times, the music will pull at your heart strings with emotional compositions that play while the Stranger describes how the once beautiful world around you came to be destroyed by the Calamity.
Voiced by Logan Cunningham, the Stranger’s commentary really sets Bastion apart from the crowd. The deep, dynamic, voice not only is a companion for you on your journey but also describes things in ways that make them seem tangible. As you make your way through the game, not only will he tell Bastion’s story but he will also describe enemies and locales to you, right down to what they smell like.
The narration also eliminates the need for a codex. In some games, if you want to look up any backstory it usually requires opening up a menu and reading, taking you away from the action. However, in Bastion the Stranger seamlessly explains everything while you keep busy hacking away. This unique quality is something you don’t see in other games, and really gives Bastion its own personality.
Bastion is a breath of fresh air with its unique story and narrative. It will stimulate your eyes, ears, and mind. Even though the gameplay has been done before, it adds its own elements that keep you entertained and constantly wanting more. At only 1200 Microsoft points, Bastion is a steal and a must-own for all gamers. If there were a petition going around to make more games like Bastion, I would be the first one to sign it.
Tested on 360