October 11th, 2012
Author: Ambrielle Army
Although Bastion’s release came in mid-2011, the recent Steam Summer Sale has given the game a breath of new life. There are many reasons why Bastion has achieved the staying power it has. Bastion’s availability on almost every platform has certainly helped it reach a wide range of gamers. The indie title is developed by Supergiant Games and has swept nominations and awards in indie categories before its release, but is it still worth the buy?
The sights and sounds of the game alone leave a gamer with few doubts on the game’s worthiness. The plot and fairly diverse game play do little to change that decision. With incredible painted landscapes and character art, the aesthetic appeal trumps similar games in its own unique and distinctive style. Very few post-apocalyptic games have strived to capture the uncommon beauty that Bastion achieves perfectly. The music and superb narration truly set it above in sensory experiences, becoming one of the most defining attributes of the game as a whole. Both the style of the game’s script and the actual voice acting add an immeasurable amount to Bastion’s atmosphere, elevating a good game with an interesting concept into a truly memorable one. Even the silent main character, ‘The Kid,’ produces an unexplainable compelling aspect to the post-apocalyptic world.
The game focuses around ‘The Kid’ and the few survivors of the devastating event called “the Calamity” that he meets through his travels. The Calamity, which is shrouded in mystery at the beginning of the game, not only destroys The Kid’s city of Caelondia, but every part of the world. Along with the crumbling world, most of its citizens have also fallen. When The Kid meets an old man called Rucks (the narrator) at the Bastion, the stronghold all people were supposed to meet at in case of an emergency. Rucks tells the player to collect the scattered crystalline cores that once powered the city of Caelondia in order to rebuild. These cores not only allow the player to build structures in the Bastion with pieces of the old world called shards, but also permit him to travel quickly to the world’s many regions through the skyways. The multitudes of destinations hold new benefits to help advance The Kid through the game.
As the player travels through a broken land to gather fragments of the world before, they will encounter various enemies and challenges. The Kid can carry two weapons at a time, though they can be traded out for any of the ones collected throughout the previous levels at the armory. Special attacks also contribute to the offensive, though these require a black tonic, which the player can only hold a few of. Black tonics can be replenished as they are collected throughout the world. Health tonics, which replenish The Kid’s hit points, work in the same way. While some of these enemies and challenges can grow slightly repetitive, the game compensates with a wide range of combat weapons and special abilities to keep the battles fresh.
The fragments and cores collected advance the player through various levels, enabling upgrades and new structures in the Bastion. Structures can include armories, distilleries, and shrines, which each provide chances for upgrades of various character aspects depending on the kind of building. Throughout the quest, the player is not entirely limited to one storyline as many games of its genre mandate, increasing its eventual replay value.
The plot line is strong, and though it involves a small set of characters, this actually adds to the game’s overall feeling. As mentioned before, the player tends to develop a stronger attachment to the narrator than to The Kid because of how much it contributes to the game’s post-apocalyptic atmosphere. The voiceovers also prevent huge chunks of lore or long cut scenes that a player must sit or read through. Instead, it provides a perfect backdrop to the game’s action, permitting a player to absorb exactly as much of the world’s story as they wish. This seamless integration is perhaps not something a player will immediately notice, but it subtly improves the experience nonetheless.
Overall, Bastion crafts a genuinely beautiful, artistic, and unique world which is likely worth the purchase alone. The music and narration along with this style help to create an identifiable game environment that a player will not soon grow tired of or forget. The well-written storyline and different combat options will pull players through each level and leave them wanting for answers.
The aesthetic value of the game, from the unique painted-style, to the way each level rises from the abyss below the character’s feet, truly captures a gamer’s attention and holds it. The appearance would likely be enough to outweigh a weak storyline, but Bastion’s doesn’t have to try. The two combine to make a game that could be enjoyed by just about any type of player from casual and upward.
Bastion is a game already close to the hearts of many, and it is not likely to go anywhere soon.