Bastion is an interesting product. Its price point is highly competitive for what is on offer – strong narration; simple, effective gameplay; and some truly beautiful art direction. It’s a great little distraction that will make waiting for the next AAA release that much shorter.
The story of Bastion is as much unknown to the protagonist as it is to the player – a boy soldier wakes up to a destroyed world caused by an apocalyptic event known as the Calamity. After finding a sanctuary known as the Bastion, the boy aims to find as many survivors as he can and complete the construction of the Bastion using items in the game’s world.
One thing that is immediately apparent about Bastion is its presentation. Bright, vibrant colour palettes and interesting character design are prevalent; both are a little reminiscent of Braid and a welcome change from the brown and beige sand dunes of modern day shooters. The quasi-Japanese style of big eyes and androgynous-looking characters gives the impression of a Japanese artist’s hand at work, and it adds a sense of other-worldliness that few other games can match.
The world of Bastion is brief, yet it belies a sense of depth that drips snippets of insight and information into the world. A velvet-voiced narrator with a subtle Southern drawl tells of various factions and groups, of conflicts and wars between different races. Settings are nicely varied and are literally constructed on the fly – paths are not immediately apparent until one walks in its general direction. Levels are short and brief, which can dull the experience, but it’s an alternative to constant quicksaves or slogging to the next checkpoint.
Steampunk technology and sorcery combine to offer to variety of items and weapons. Simple weapons such as sledgehammers and pikes complement more intricate tools such as the Fang Repeater and the Galleon Mortar, which are all upgradeable and have their own special abilities. Ales and wines offer persistent buffs to boost combat effectiveness. Certain idols can be activated to provide more challenging combat (and subsequently a higher XP and currency payback). The customisation and variation is not endlessly deep – this is not Skyrim – but there is enough variation to address most playing styles, and possibly even encourage replay.
The only real drawback I found with the game was the controls – using ranged weapons such as the Fang Repeater required me to aim slightly off-target when using the mouse, as opposed to auto-aiming with a controller. Contrarily, attempting to aim a weapon with precision using an analogue stick is far less accurate than pinpointing a target with the mouse and leading as necessary.
Bastion is excellent value for money if you need to kill some time between releases. It’s visually appealing and fun to play if you’re not looking for anything too deep or engaging. Well worth the asking price, especially if it’s on sale.
(Also, I’m pretty sure the game’s narrator can impregnate women with his voice.)