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ZeitgeistReview On August - 30 - 2011

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When Bastion was released a few weeks back, I heard comments like “Best Game Ever” and “Must Buy”! Well that obviously got my attention considering I’d not even yet heard of this title. While I may not freak out as much about it as others have, I am willing to say that it’s pretty dang good. If you’re into clever, beautiful, isometric Action RPGs and haven’t yet heard of Bastion, you might want to keep listening.

While it may look pretty from the screenshots and game-play footage, Bastion is actually about a post-apocalyptic fictional world that has just gone through a great calamity. You play a silent protagonist known only as “The Kid” by the game’s narrator who dynamically describes the details of what’s happening in real time throughout the game’s entirety. The way the narrator describes the events is fluid and natural, almost as if he was reading a story about your adventure, years after it actually took place. While some gamers may find this feature annoying, I thought it was great.

The game opens with The Kid waking up to the world as he knew it completely destroyed. Knowing nothing of what’s happened, his instinct is to head to The Bastion – a special place that his people had decided they should go in times of trouble. Here you meet the Narrator who convinces you that to rebuild the world, you must first gather shards and crystal cores to power up and rebuild The Bastion. Overall I found the story to be a bit confusing until the end where much of the details were revealed. There was probably some kind of deep meaning behind everything that I just couldn’t follow, but that’s kind of beside the point. The game-play and presentation are so fun and beautiful that I just forgot there was as story in the first place.

Bright vivid colorful graphics give the game world a distinct cartoony feel and when combined with the way that the levels build themselves as you walk over them, you’ve got a truly unique gaming experience. There is just a neat art style to the game filled with subtle details like seeing old friends and family represented as statues. The voice acting in the game is great as well as up until the very end, the only actor you’ll hear is the Narrator; but the real star of the show is the soundtrack. It’s crazy how the addition of a single song at the right moment can really enhance the emotions that a game can really portray.

The Bastion serves as a hub to select which levels you want to play next, upgrade your gear, and interact with the story world. As you find shards and cores, you begin to customize The Bastion to your liking, adding a variety of buildings, mementos, and even a few remaining survivors. These buildings let you upgrade your weapons, select your load-out, purchase items you may have missed in previous levels, unlock achievements and add special idols that increase the difficulty and rewards for the remaining levels.
The controls for the PC version of the game are very simple and work great with a keyboard and mouse, without a lot of keys to remember. The Kid carries with him two weapons and a special ability, and has the ability to dodge and block with a shield as well. There are a nice variety of weapons that you’ll find and unlock, letting you customize your character’s play-style to your liking.

You’ll gain experience for killing enemies, which in turn will allow you to utilize the clever leveling up system. Once you add a distillery to The Bastion, you’re allowed to drink a spirit for each level you’ve obtained which adds passive statistics or abilities. This combined with the nice variety of upgradable weapons really gives you a lot of options for taking down the foes.

Bastion took me roughly 7 hours to complete and in that, I didn’t unlock all of the content, which could have tacked another hour or so on top of that. As you find additional weapons, challenge missions will become unlocked that will test your skills with that weapon to unlock additional upgrades and special abilities. There are also a series of reflection challenge missions that pit you up against various waves of monsters where your skills are tracked on a global scoreboard.

There are a decent variety of missions with the perfect amount of enemies with different attack styles to keep things fresh. Game-play is mixed up a bit between exploration, combat and timed sequences where you run for your life. Completing the game will also unlock a New Game Plus mode where you can keep your weapons, upgrades and XP. Completionists will find some replay value here when combined with the game’s multiple endings.

I think it’s easy to take the hive mind approach to freaking out about an unknown or indie game making something special and blowing your load all over the Internet whenever anyone mentions it, as reflected perhaps by many comments I’ve seen about Bastion, Braid, Trine or maybe Minecraft or Terraria. But in all honesty, Bastion was good. Not OMGWTFBBQ best game ever good, but good enough that I enjoyed playing it for an hour or two a day, then walking away, then coming back to it. Do I recommend it? Yes.


Developer: Supergiant Games
Publisher: Warner Bros.
Platform: XBLA, PSN, PC (Steam)
Price: $15
Release Date: July 20, 2011 – August 16, 2011

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Categories: PC, Playstation 3, Reviews, Xbox 360

One Response

  1. Avatar of Renzar Renzar says:

    Great review, really got me interested. Keep up the great job ;)

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