An updated review of the indie hit: Bastion.
The original review has been completely revamped from the ground up and the original blog post has been deleted. I took what I had done and reworked every line and paragraph while adding quite a few more thoughts. So, that review still exists in a way. This is also one of the few reviews that went from a full blog review to a Steam shortened one. Enjoy!
A Paladin’s Steam Review: Bastion. A Narrated Story About The World Falling Apart.
- Genre: Fantasy isometric hack and slash aRPG
- Developed and Published by: Supergiant Games & Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
- Platform: Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, PS3 and Xbox360.
- Business Model: Base Game
- Copy Purchased by Myself
Overall Gameplay Thoughts
This hack and slash aRPG has the player controlling Kid, a youth surviving the events of the Calamity. Said event destroyed much of the world that he knew and now he must traverse it, seeking to restore the Bastion. The Kid is a silent protagonist but the narrator following him around definitely isn’t. The narration is the main selling point of Bastion and where it got a lot of its praise from. The narrator’s deep tones are used to describe both the story, the interactions between characters and the player’s actions with an almost AI level of cognition. Falling off a ledge, getting hit by enemies, not figuring out where to go next gets either encouragement, prodding or almost sarcastic remarks from the narrator depending on the situation. But the narrator remains ever steadfast, determined to help the Kid out. It won’t comment on every single action taken but it’s enough to be interesting during this four hour or so campaign.
There’s the Bastion level where you’re able to trigger parts of the story plot, customize the Kid’s weaponry and choose which level to go next. There’s a lot of different ways to customize your experience as well. On each combat level is a piece of the Bastion (shards) that you must locate (usually hidden behind bosses) in order to reassemble and power it up. On combat levels, pieces of the level come falling down from the sky so you won’t always know where to go next. I’m pretty mixed on this idea. I get that they didn’t want the entire level to be seen immediately nor wanted to use darkness to hide it, but it often leads to you running into walls a lot of the time. It should be noted that you can’t return to these levels once they’re completed.
Combat is a repetitive hack-and-slash with guns, hammers, blades and many other assorted weapons. Kid can only have two weapons equipped along with a special ability. The special ability can be summonable monsters to special weapon attacks and require dark potions to use. The Kid can’t recover his health over time, so the player will need to keep an eye out for health potions and use them when low on health. There’s an upgrade tree for weapons that changes the ability and strength to the player’s preference. It’s a good idea to figure out what weapons you’ll like early on. Each weapon upgrade requires a unique material as well as a number of spirits/currency in order to be applied. The currency can take a while unless you wish to grind the proving ground or monster waves (remembrance) level. There’s also collectible items (Mementos), Vigils that change monster behavior and stats for increasing your risk/reward. All of which help take the edge off the repetitiveness of Bastion but only a little bit. For the most part, I found I ended up setting these to what I preferred and forgetting them. Unless you visit the challenge levels and complete them for the rewards, there’s not a lot to choose from in the normal course of the game.
Combat is pretty solid though the main problem is definitely the lacking variety of enemies. You’ll see the majority of them pretty early on and they get reused a lot. The way to defeat them is also pretty samey. Line up a shot, hopefully triggering a power-shot which gives it an extra boost, dodge out of the way if the enemy gets too close and shoot again. Rinse and repeat. A lot of the time it can feel like long battles of attrition between the health potions and seemingly endless stream of monsters.
PC Settings, Visuals and Soundtrack
Bastion has a reasonable selection of options to customize the experience. It does give you a selection of resolution options depending on your aspect ratio. Though anything outside of a 16:9 resolution will be letterboxed. Fullscreen is on/off though you can force borderless windowed mode through a launch option. Read about how to do that on PCGamingWiki. Visual settings are extremely limited to vertical sync on/off and anti-aliasing up to 4x. I’ll grant that it’s a 2D game so lots of graphical options are probably unnecessary. However, Bastion makes up for it with a plentiful audio menu. (Where the brightness slider is located, strangely). Music, FX and narration volume can all be adjusted here with sliders for each individual one. Keyboard, mouse and controller are all supported for Bastion though controller seems to be the preferred method.
Bastion still holds up as a good looking indie title with its cartoony, colorful visual style. A style that has been very well implemented and holds up all game. The soundtrack is very well done and remains one of my favorite albums from gaming. I recommend picking up the soundtrack after you’ve finished playing the game.
Bastion is a solid experience from beginning to end. The narration is very well done, constantly keeping the player engaged and not getting overbearing or annoying. The story and combat are both solid and reasonably enjoyable for the short experience. Though I do feel like the customization/crafting system requires a bit too much grinding and the combat system can feel far too repetitive at times due to the small pool of enemies. Still, I think it’s worth giving Bastion a look over, even after all this time.
Places to Purchase:
Thanks for reading!