Review: Bastion (XBLA)

“There’s like a kid who wakes up and everyone’s dead and the world is gone.” That was how my husband described Bastion to me.

“Ew.” Was my response. “That sounds terrible and sad and not like a game at all.”

“I guess I can see that. It is pretty sad… Meh, try it,” he said, handing me the controller.

I settled in and tried it.

Immediately I was sucked into the story of The Kid as narrated by the old man with a voice made for storytelling. The Kid and I had the same questions: What happened? Where’d everyone go? Where’d the world go? For the saddest premise in the world I jumped into Bastion feeling motivated and curious.

The controls were intuitive and the game was forgiving while I acclimated myself to my new surroundings. “The Kid just raged for a while,” The Narrator said, prompting me to move on from smashing all the boxes, objects, and general scenery as is customary in semi-similar action games. I found it easy to defeat my enemies as my ability was scaled proportionally with theirs. As the story unfolded and I learned about The Kid, Caelondia, and The Calamity that got us to the world as it is.  I fought slow moving enemies with slow weapons until I able to choose between brute force and speed. Eventually I was able to upgrade certain aspects of my gameplay using potions from the Liquor Store1.

Your goal is to fight your way through The Wilds (levels) and collect Shards  to build up The Bastion, a mysterious situation that is the solution to the Calamity according to the narrator who clearly isn’t telling you the whole story.

The whole story is really what makes the game. While I was playing because it was a game I stuck with it because I wanted to  get to the end of the story– and I was the one who would get there. The Kid falls because I fall and he continues on because I continued on. Somehow Supergiant Games too that evocative part of books and movies and campfire stories and brought it to an action-adventure game.

All parts of the game worked harmoniously from the controls to the story to the design to the music2 I was immersed.

I rarely finish games, I know “boo” “hiss,” I just get done playing before the game is done and if there isn’t enough of a story I don’t care if I don’t know how it ends. This game, I needed to know and I enjoyed playing. One of my few grips with Bastion was at one point I realized the forward motion of the story slight over shadowed the fact that it is in fact a video game: Once you complete a level you can’t go back to it. There was a level that I accidentally completed because the finish the level button and the attack button were the same and I happened to be standing by the exit… So i was done, never to complete that level to my satisfaction again until my second play through.

Overall, I would emphatically recommend Bastion as a game, story, or album.

Rating: ★★★★½

Check out some on the beautiful screenshots:

  1. It was called something more clever but it sold potion upgrades that were named to sound like liquor. eg.: Were Whiskey
  2. The music is unbearably AMAZING in this game. I normally don’t even notice but there were levels I didn’t want to finish for fear of never hearing the song again.

tavia.

My parents let me watch and read way too much science fiction and fantasy when I was a child. Now that I’m grown, I’m bored and I can’t wait for SkyNet to awaken or the super-virus to cull the human population.

I’ll be safe because I’ve learned to reason with robots from Data and the Terminator franchise… and I eat gummy vitamins by the fist-full.

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