Bastion

Released: 2011

Platform(s): All of them, except anything having to do with Nintendo

Developer: Supergiant Games

Publisher: Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment

Genre(s): action-RPG

     Not long after I had finally installed Steam onto my laptop, I found myself watching  bunch of Top Ten Indie Games videos on Youtube. I was ready to fully sink my teeth into this whole ‘Indie’ games thing and I was gonna do it right. Several titles kept popping up over and over and over again as I watched. However, there was one of them that drew my attention like none of the others could and that was Bastion. This game can still be found on Steam and every other gaming platform in existence . . .except for WiiU and 3DS/3DSXL. Yeah. Sorry, Nintendo people. No Bastion for you!

     Then I started to read and watch online reviews and my curiosity practically exploded. The visuals, the story, the music, the way everthing came together − there was just something spellbinding about it all. I was so taken with all I had seen and heard that my first official act as the garnet_gamer on Steam was to download Bastion’s useless demo that I could not get to work for some reason. That didn’t stop me, though. I purchased and downloaded the full game and vowed to play it as soon as I was done with Aria of Sorrow. (OMG!! Is this the end?! This is just as anti-climactic as the ending Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy!)

     So now that I have played Bastion for myself I’ve got to say I certainly understand why it kept appearing on all of those Top Ten lists and why it still receives praise nearly 4 years after its initial release. It is simply a well-crafted masterpiece of a game. Or, as I said after playing for about an hour, “Simply freakin’ awesome!”

Story

     Judging from the ruins you pass through during the first couple levels of Bastion, Caeldonia was once a prosperous city high above the clouds. That is, until it was virtually destroyed by a disaster known only as the Calamity. And now the city is literally a fragment of its former self. Your character, only referred to as The Kid in-game, awakens shortly after this occurs to find that that all he’s ever known is in pieces.

     Left with no other choice, The Kid begins to traverse Caeldonia’s shattered remains. He finds a couple weapons and takes down a couple enemies while a steely-voiced narrator narrates his every move and spells everything out for the player. The Kid finds a cluster of blue crystals called a core after more exploration. These cores were the source of energy that kept the city of afloat and in one piece. The Kid decides to take the core for whatever reason and that’s when all hell breaks loose. What is left of his home  . . .district begins to fall apart around him and he must make quick escape. Thankfully, that core he found reactivated a skyway which could take him to the only place that hadn’t been touched by the Calamity: the Bastion. (I found out it’s just a fancy word for ‘stronghold.’)

     It serves as the main hub for this game. It is where you are able to:

            *upgrade any weapons you happen to find.

            *swap your loadout

            *brew concoctions that aid you in battle

And that is only the beginning. More functions are added as you play through the game.

     Remember that steely-voiced narrator I mentioned before? Yeah, my original thought was that he would remain shrouded in mystery for the whole game. Or at the very least he would not be revealed until the final act or something like that. Nope! You find the not-so-mysterious narrator waiting for you at the Bastion from the very first time you faceplant there. His name is Rucks and he’s a fellow Caeldonian and Calamity survivor. Rucks turns out to be a valuable source of information and lore as the story progresses. I still have one lingering question about him, though: does he happen to play steel-string guitar by any chance?

Presentation

     Oh. Em. Gee. Bastion is one of the most immersive games I’ve played since I started these reviews. Without fail, I’d get sucked right in every time I would start playing. And the first thing that would suck me in was the visuals. The graphics are, in essence, a perfect example of how a cartoon-y style lends itself to the agelessness of any given title. It’s just so beautiful to look at. The animation is smooth and the characters and environments are expertly designed. Made me wonder if there was any concept art to unlock and how I would go about doing that.

     Then there was the soundtrack. Bastion’s soundtrack is simply phenomenal. It picks up influences from the American Southwest to the Far East and everywhere in between. It’s kind of a trippy ride. And there’s one song in particular that truly stands out from the rest: Zia’s Theme, aka: Build a Wall.  It stands out for two reasons:

  • It’s the only song with actual lyrics.
  • How both the song and the character singing it are introduced to the player.

 I thought that it was rather clever.

Gameplay

     Even though Bastion is an action-RPG, it is divided up into linear levels. The main objective is to get from one end of an area to the other and to collect the power cores (or shards of said power cores later on in the game). Both power cores and power shards are important because they keep the Bastion both together and afloat. Along the way you will need to defend yourself against every wild beast that didn’t die in the Calamity. Damn, there sure are a lot of those. I’ll bet that every one who has played through Bastion at least once has wondered why such a disaster didn’t kill more of the blasted things off. Not getting constantly ambushed by ferocious beasts would have been awesome.

     Fortunately, you will find a small arsenal of weapons with which to defend yourself. Ranging from your simple machetes and hammers to frickin’ mortar canons and blasters, they are gradually found throughout The Kid’s quest. The best part is that everything you can upgrade everything that you find. Upgrades are the rather out of place items scattered around the main levels that make your weapons do more damage, hold more ammo, reload faster, etc. And then there are the truly diabolical features that you can unlock near the end of the game. Enjoy.

    I should mention that the landscape will shift and change all around you as you run and gun your way through Bastion’s respectable number of levels. The ground beneath your feet will appear as you approach. There are holes everywhere so you’ll really have to watch your step. . .and so will most of the monsters that most definitely be attacking you. Well, the non-levitating ones, anyway. That’s something, right? Yaaay . . .

Endgame

Since Bastion is an older indie title, no one’s gonna care about a few spoilers, right?

     The final level of the game finds you following fellow Calamity survivor and Ura tribesman Zulf all the way back to his homeland to reclaim the shard he stole from the Bastion’s monument. He’s badly injured when The Kid finds him as his own people have turned on him for leading The Kid right to them. This is where you will be presented with a choice to either

  1. leave Zulf to his (probably well-deserved) fate and press on or
  2. slowly and laboriously carry him out of the area while the rest of the Ura look on in stunned confusion.

I’m not kidding; they’re so shocked about your decision to help a traitor that they just stop attacking you. Eventually. Maybe I should have let the bastard rot . . .

     Making it back to the Bastion presents another choice to make. You can either activate its restoration protocol to reset time to before the Calamity even happened. Or you can activate the evacuation protocol which enables the Bastion to anywhere in the world on the winds. No matter what you choose, New Game+ unlocks. You get to keep everything you found or restored. But don’t think that it’s over; you’ll have to play the game at least one more time to potentially find everything that Bastion has to offer. I’ll be back for round two after my Steam account gets a good Dusting . . .

 

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