by Chris Scott
reviewed on X360
Traditionally summer has been a barren wasteland for gamers, but over the last few years XBOX 360 owners have been treated to some of the most artistic games of this generation. Games like Braid and Limbo have made summer a bright spot on the gaming calendar and this year Supergiant Games debut title, Bastion joins their ranks. Bastion is an action role-playing title that stands out from the pack due to its striking visual style, its deep customization choices, fun and challenging combat and a narrative that is unlike any other.
Bastion puts players in control of The Kid shortly after a mysterious calamity has destroyed the world. The Kid equips himself with a hammer and shield setting off for the Bastion, the place where everyone was to regroup at. The calamity has decimated the world beyond recognition and nearly everyone has perished. The Kid does come across another survivor though and this old man, named Rucks, serves as the narrator for the events of the game.
Early on players will realize that while Rucks’ narration is dynamic to each individual player and their actions, the story is not their own. The story is Rucks’ to tell and he feeds the player information as he sees fit. While many stories deliver vital aspects of the plot via piecemeal the style of narration in Bastion elicits a different emotional response. With Rucks being the gatekeeper to the world his lack of forthcoming information to the player shapes him into a somewhat shady character and players will begin to question his motivations. All in all the narrative style makes the game feel fresh in its approach.
The fact that Rucks does not share everything about the world with the player makes it all the more mysterious. It has a rich back-story and oddly much of that back-story is left to the imagination of the player. The events are clearly just a small piece of the history and despite the lack of information given to the player, it feels rich with detail.
While the narrative certainly stands as the shining star, it is able to do so because every other aspect of the game is handled with the same level of care. The gameplay is simple on a surface level making it easy for players to quickly grasp the core concepts. At its core Bastion is a hack and slash role-playing game. The Kid is tasked with exploring exotic locales to collect monument cores, and later in the game monument shards. While exploring, the game will pit The Kid against a variety of enemies, many of which require a unique approach.
Fortunately players can outfit The Kid in both ranged and melee weaponry, found throughout the world, as well as a special skill or item that can be used in limited supply. While the concepts of the gameplay are simple, the game allows for a large amount of customization to create a deeper and more rewarding experience than one would expect. The customization comes in the form of enhancements that can be applied to both The Kid himself and to his arsenal of weapons. Players can design the best character for use in their game and the game does a great job of making each selection feel like the correct way to play. But if for some reason players find themselves with a build they feel is less than ideal for their play style, changing builds is a painless affair.
The gameplay and narrative are all tied nicely together with the beautiful hand-painted art style. Playing through Bastion is like playing a painting come to life. Despite its strong art direction, Supergiant Games understood the importance of not allowing it to hinder the gameplay in anyway and The Kid controls beautifully, easily breaking out of animations when need be.
For many players Bastion’s narrative will drive them forward and the five hour quest will do sate their thirst but for those looking for more, Bastion offers quite a bit. The game contains challenge levels for every weapon, a variable and fully customizable difficulty system, and a new game plus mode that allows players to take their previous unlocks forward. Simply put, Bastion is a complete package.
As complete a package as Bastion, it is a game of simple premise. And the premise is what will stick with players well after they have finished the game and moved on to other things. Its foundation is built on a simple question delivered through a unique narrative structure. To reveal what the question is would be to spoil the experience that this game delivers but suffice it to say that what the question is and how one comes to their answer is what makes Bastion so special. This is a rare game that transcends its medium and helps to push games forward as a devise for artistic delivery. It is also a game that simply should not be missed.
Gameplay makes it easy to quickly grasp the core concepts.
No Pros and Cons at this time