Developer: Supergiant Games
Publisher: Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment
Release Date: July 20th, 2011
Platforms: PC, Xbox 360, Windows, Mac, Linux, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, iOS, Xbox One
As far as first impressions go, Supergiant Games’ Bastion nails the format of its action RPG elements while creating a colorful and enjoyable world to experience. However the story itself is a bit rough on the delivery. Despite that, the game makes up for its occasionally valleys with exceptional peaks in combat, gameplay, and character progression.
The journey of Bastion starts off simple, as you wake up as who’s simple known as “The Kid”, trying to find out what’s happened to your world. Almost immediately, the narrator who will accompany you throughout your entire journey begins to speak. He explains of sometime called The Calamity that seemingly has wiped out the Bastion, which turns out to be your home base to where you’ll make improvements not only to your safe area, but for yourself as well.
The way in which the story is delivered made it tough to interpret for me. Everything’s told through the aforementioned narrator that speaks over gameplay. The problem with this format however is that many times I would be in the middle of combat trying to defend and take out multiple enemies, and he’d be begin to talk over the action. With or without using subtitles, it was easy to miss important dialog, and it started to creates gaps in the parts of the story that I already misunderstood. There’s no problems with the still framed cutscenes that you get about a handful of times in the game, but more often than not, these moments were caused by something that was supposedly told to me already. Though due to the narrated approach I unfortunately had missed a few bits of important details because I was busy trying to clear path through a dozen hostile enemies.
Up until the very end of the game, you’ll be finding new weapons and skills to add to your arsenal. While there a number of ranged and melee weapons that you can swap in and out whenever you’d like, it’s ultimately up to you and your own play style the types of tools you wish to use. Want to keep close of the enemy? Grab the Gael Hammer or War Machete (though you can still throw your machete if you so please). Keep your distance? The Fang Repeater or Army Carbine should bode well for you. Since you’re limited to only a couple of weapon slots, it is easy to sucum to choosing one melee and one ranged weapon, and that’s fine. But you do still have the option to take a chance with equiping two of the same weapon type.
A nice area to hone your skills with these weapons are the proving grounds located throughout the game’s skyway map. There is a nice incentive to taking part in these trials, and you can also reap the rewards of new upgrade parts for said weapons depending on your results. The idea of having a space to go out to test your abilities is already great enough, but the way that these trials are set up respective to each weapon is what made me enjoy them. For example, the Fang Repeater I mentioned earlier is essentially an automatic crossbow that restricts your movement when trying to reload. These weapon trials require you to be as efficient with both your movement and your aiming abilities as best as possible. Every weapon in the game has its own style of play that coincides with it, and these proving grounds are part of the foundation for players to learn to use them in the best way possible.
The skills you acquire with these weapons are essential, as every new level you travel to has you running into new obstacles and enemies that you’ll need to learn to approach differently. On top of the weapons that you earn, the early learned abilities to evade and defend with your shield are cructial to survival. Evading is pretty self explanatory, but being able to time shield attack counters based on the type of enemy that your fighting must be learned in order to be as efficient as possible in combat. Right away I realized that trying to go into a fight kamikaze style or guns blazing does not cut it. Each fight feels like a physical chess match, with movement and defense being just as, if not more important that going on the offense.
After all the fighting and level progression is over, it’s back to The Bastion to gear up for your next adventure. The game’s home base is a soon to be area littered with shops and armories meant to help you get every bit out of your little hero as possible. Every building that you construct has some sort of relationship to all of the others, so deciding which shops to unlock first is up to you entirely. Some of these shops do take from typical RPG elements, such as upgrading weapons and armories. With the addition to the memorial that rewards you for completing specific milestones and the shrine that gives you the option to add difficulty sliders that yield greater rewards, there’s constant return on investment to put towards further upgrades and abilities.
Despite having a story whose delivery makes it tough to interpret at times, Bastion’s combat and gameplay mechanics are well fleshed out with an arsenal diverse enough to suit a number of playing styles. Top that with its action RPG mechanics and neat, colorful level designs, I enjoyed my time with Bastion from start to finish. Supergiant games’ first title offers a lot with its dynamic approach of monsters, challenges, levels, and progression systems.