Bastion

It’s a game unlike any other.

By Daavpuke, Posted 19 Jul 2011

Stay a while and listen. The world has been destroyed by the Calamity, crumbling the earth underneath our feet. It took it all, but there’s a way to get everything back and to do this we can access the Bastion. This fortress will be our central hub towards the shards of islands left from a former existence. Unfortunately, our means are limited, but there is one kid who still fights no matter what. The Kid, he’s a tough nut, this one.

Bastion isn’t an RPG like any other. Heck, this isn’t a game like any other. No, Bastion is different. The indie title takes a different approach with its hand-painted, lush environments that assemble moments before the Kid puts his feet down. Displaying a progressive adventure in every sense of the term, it reconstructs the world gradually in a colorful way, physically. But more importantly, and what is by far the magnum opus of Bastion, it’s the audio part that sets a new standard for games.

All ‘interactive movies’ will have to rethink their tactics from now on, because this game creates a tangible emotion from an audible source that is unmatched. Overlaid with a versatile, but equally unique soundtrack, Bastion is a story that is experienced through narrative. With every progression, a cowboy reckons he better regale you with the continuation of the tale and that every step of the way. There is a lot of narration from this kind stranger, but it’s constant, consistent and brings a new point of interest at any time. It’s almost like a western, if that story rested solely in the player’s hands. Our cowboy stranger even reacts to certain situations with enemies or gameplay sections. Shucks; if y’all want to know what magic feels like, this here would be it. There is no proper description that would do justice to the power of the audible section of Bastion. And the good thing is, it don’t stop there, my friend; this game keeps on trucking.

NoobFeed Review - Bastion
The Kid's adventure; it all starts here.

The Bastion is the pivot of the game and from there all other elements originate. And as this component is already different, everything else will have to be distinct by default. From this central spot, the Kid can visit new islands to obtain cores of power that restore and upgrade the Bastion’s strength and boy, will we need us some power. With every shard, the Bastion grows stronger and new buildings help the Kid fight back the Calamity that destroyed the world. From upgrading weapons, gaining new abilities to creating a tougher challenge; a total of 6 building will make this adventure a singular experience on which we’ll elaborate piece by piece. All stories need their time to be told after all.

Combat is the least contrasting, as there’s just so much that can be altered to an action-oriented RPG element. Yet, Bastion does a great job at introducing new elements and altering the experience gradually. Starting with a simple weapon, the Kid quickly finds new weapons leftover from the Calamity and combines 2 of these melee, ranged or mixed arms together with one powerful Secret skill. There’s always a new weapon to be found in the debris and new skills, be they tied to a weapon or not, are usually not far off either, creating a number of combinations in the Arsenal. And while just whacking through enemies is the same, the approach where the Kid can slay foes isn’t; from the projectile machete to the powerful mortar. In turn, the Forge will make sure these weapons become stronger and offer 2 choices with each unlocked tier.

NoobFeed Review - Bastion
Blasting monster-spouting popcorn machines in Bastion. This is not your regular RPG.

Leveling is a little different in the sense that it grants new abilities in the form of spirits that need to be equipped in the Distillery. Each level grants one new spirit and those are interchangeable, so no worries on picking the right one each time. There’s even spirits that can be bought, amongst many other things, in the Lost-And-Found. However, the level aspect isn’t perfect as it doesn’t happen often enough to be consistent and an added challenge doesn’t seem to help. This brings us to the last and most individual aspect of the game.

Once the Kid finds the first remnants of the lost Gods, he can pick and choose which to activate in the Shrine. With each God, his enemies become stronger, but that challenge also grants the Kid additional money drops and experience points. This is a completely unique way to customize a challenge set for each player, but it’s also a way to truly test one’s mettle. Unfortunately, the level system seems harsh at times, as even with several idols activated it seems nearly impossible to gain a level more quickly. It debates the point why this challenge is even necessary at all, if it only serves half of its purpose. With an added challenge of 40% in total, the Kid kept getting his ass handed to him and didn’t seem to benefit from it at all. Poor Kid, he’s got a tough life, saving us from oblivion and all. But don’t let that get you down, because the mechanic in itself is creative and once again an item that makes the Bastion one of a kind.

It doesn’t even stop there, because even the last building, the Memorial, has a different approach towards achievements; offering rewards for specific in-game missions. Much more than simple fetch quests, these Vigils yield currency for showing skill with specific weapons more than they do for simply sticking to your guns. It’s a nice addition that can appeal to completionists as much as regular players.

NoobFeed Review - Bastion
Is this environment lush enough for you, kid? The Bastion is the heart of this game.

There is one last hitch in the system however, but it’s a small one. Whenever the Kid is knee deep in a predicament, he can use one of the 2 weapons he chose to go to battle.  Unfortunately, one of the weapons is assigned to the same prompt as interacting with his environment, which can become frustrating in certain constraining environments. Did y’all ever pick up a new skill when blasting a musket at the same time? It’s a strange feeling when that secret skill suddenly radically changes when eye to eye with a 70 foot man-eating plant.

Listen; there are some games that have imperfections and are lesser for it, but there are some that can get some leniency. Bastion downright seizes respect due to its overwhelming display on all possible fronts; plain and simple. It’s a game unlike any other, haven’t you heard? And that, my friends, is the end of this amazing tale.

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Daav Valentaten, NoobFeed. (@Daavpuke)

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General Information

Bastion

91/100

Platform(s): Xbox 360, PC
Publisher(s): Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Developer(s): Supergiant Games
Genres: Role-Playing
Themes: Action
Release Date: 2011-07-10

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