Retrospective: Bastion

SuperGiant Games’ Bastion has cemented itself firmly as one of my favourite Xbox LIVE Arcade games of all time. A year after its release and I’m still in awe. But what does Bastion have that other XBLA games don’t?

Bastion takes place in a world that has been ravaged by a cataclysmic event called The Calamity, which has caused widespread death and destruction whilst unleashing a plague of hostile creatures into the world.

You take on the role of The Kid, a boy who has seemingly slept through the entire event (I know, what a slob!) and wakes up to find the world in pieces with many of his friends gone. Guided by a wise old stranger, The Kid sets off to find the Bastion (a safe place where people agreed to meet in troubled times) and restore normality to the realm.

Gameplay
The Bastion acts as a hub where the player can upgrade weapons, swap load-outs and select levels. You can also interact with other survivors, complete challenges for upgrades, and take part in mini-games based around the many weapons.

This is a very accessible RPG in the sense that players do not have to concern themselves with endless statistics, items and inventory management. Interaction with other characters is simple and adds value and insight into the world and recent events.

Bastion has a great variety of weapons from ranged, to close combat types. The Kid is able to carry two weapons at a time, plus a grenade. Testing and discovering the best combinations becomes a joy, as you begin to figure out which items compliment each other.

The mechanics of battle are very simple to get to grips with if you are new to the game, but the more veteran player will soon learn that the timing of attacks can make life a lot easier, particularly on the higher difficulty levels.

The game has a stunning art style, with scenes throughout resembling a moving oil painting in which the world quite literally forms beneath The Kid’s feet. It also features a fantastic musical score (one of the best on my iPod) that complements the game’s mood perfectly.

However, what makes Bastion truly unique is the dynamic narration of events. Much like the film, Stranger Than Fiction, the Tom Waits-style narrator comments on the players actions in real-time, often observing the players particular play style, the enemies they face or their choice of weapon. I loved this element and it does a great job of making you feel immersed in the story, whilst hanging on every word.

The Sum Up
For me, Bastion is and will always be one of the best games available on the Xbox Marketplace. It does a fantastic job of merging storytelling with action, by allowing players to take part in an epic fable as it unfolds. I really don’t have a bad word to say about this game. I was entertained throughout, as well as constantly surprised by the variety of weapons, enemies and environments.

It also has multiple endings and a New Game + mode, which will keep you coming back again and again. I’m about to start my 3rd play-through which I can’t say I’ve done for many games. Give it a go, it will not disappoint. Oh, then download the Soundtrack, it’s a real treat.

10/10

Bastion is available now on Xbox 360 and PC.

Author: James Sterling

Associate Editor (Game) for PopBucket, avid gamer and educating folks about the Wilhelm Scream since '98. Show him some word-love.

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