Bastion Review

Bastion is a feast for the senses, an absorbing adventure and one of the best titles to come along in years.

When was the last time you were truly immersed in a video game? When was the last time you felt the thrill of being part of a well put together world? When was the last time you trembled with excitement for experiencing a cohesive adventure? To me, Bastion is one of the most gripping games of the past few years and not just because I was engaged in its gameplay, but because every element within the game reacted according to my actions. Bastion is a feast for the senses. Bastion is an absorbing adventure. Bastion is one of the best titles to come along in years.

In Bastion, you take on the role of a character called the Kid who wakes up in a lavish world that was left in ruins by the Calamity, a tragic event that destroyed the city of Caelondia. Caelondia is a mixture of joy and tragedy. On the one hand, you see the remains of fruitful society that was filled with lush forests, picturesque vistas and even colorful bars. On the other hand, you see the aftermath of the Calamity that turned most people to stone and transformed those picturesque vistas into colorless piles of a rubble. The Kid embarks on a journey that’s supposed to change the city back to the lively and secure place that it once was, but to do so, he needs to recover magical shards to power a structure known as the Bastion.

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“You gotta hand it to the Calamity, it did the job quick.”

To defeat the myriad enemies that get in his way, the Kid can equip several deadly weapons (which include a hammer, shield, bow and musket, among many other weapons,) but he can only carry two of them at the same time. The combat system has a grace to it that makes it quite engrossing, since the Kid has the ability to attack, evade and roll. Once you get used to the controls, the game will allow you to do everything in one single motion. Interestingly, this ebb and flow to the combat doesn’t wear off even after hours of playtime. It’s worth pointing out that at no point did I feel like I was using the same weapon over and over. That’s not to say that I didn’t have a favorite weapon, but the arsenal is so varied that I constantly found an excuse to try that new weapon that I had just unlocked.

The unique visual style complements the combat quite well. Bastion uses cel-shading not only providing the game with a unique comic-book style, but also making use of some truly appealing visual techniques. For instance, when the Kid walks towards what appears to be the end of a platform, little tiles come together forming the floor. Seeing the environments come together as you approach them never gets tiring and I appreciate that this is explained as part of the story.

The stellar voice acting is another element that makes Bastion unlike anything else. Bastion has dynamic voice acting which means that the narrator reacts according to your actions. Die too many times and the narrator will point it out, don’t do anything at all and this will also be reflected in the audio and so on and so forth. Although the plot is scripted, the dynamic comments make your playthrough completely different to that of other players, providing the feeling that you are witnessing something special. But it’s really the fantastic writing what makes the audio so impactful.

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“The Kid just rages for a while.”

When you reach the body of the local bartender, the narrator says: “The Calamity got him before his drinking did;” when you activate a mechanism you hear the narrator saying: “He throws a switch. Now what possibly could go wrong?” The list of examples goes on and on and it seems like thousands of lines of dialogue were recorded, since I’ve never heard a line repeat during my first playthrough. The fact that the dialogue lines never overlap is also a nice touch, since interruptions like these would definitely break the illusion.

The world of Bastion is certainly a meticulously crafted one. As you investigate different places, you’ll find the petrified bodies of the people who didn’t make it to this brave new world. Apart from having access to multiple places, you can also obtain mementos, special items that you collect throughout the game. If you take those articles to certain characters, they will give you information about the people they belonged to.

Although Bastion is a self-contained single-player campaign, the game features multiple secondary endeavors that will keep you coming back for more. In the memorial, for instance, you get rewards by accomplishing certain kind of achievements and challenges (such as defeating multiple enemies with one shot.) Accessing the proving grounds, on the other hand, allows you to test your skills with one particular weapon and get prizes according to your performance.

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Zulf, Rucks and The Kid.

But for all its strengths, Bastion isn’t without some issues. Although the combat is quite entertaining, playing with a mouse and keyboard takes some time to get used to. As a consequence, falling off platforms is very common, especially when the action heats up. Nevertheless, this is a minor complaint when the rest of the rest of the game is so well put together.

In the end, Bastion is one of the most creative titles to come along in years. After all, this is an expertly crafted adventure whose elements blend seamlessly together. The dynamic voice acting, entrancing soundtrack, gripping exploration, sharp visual design, fluid combat and gripping story make Bastion unique, immersive and extremely memorable.