Bastion follows the story of Kid, who is working to restore the Bastion after the Calamity, an event that destroyed much of the world. This is one of an abundant number of critically-acclaimed games that I finally got around to playing years after its release. When playing these sorts of games, there’s always the danger of allowing one’s expectations to interfere with the experience. So without further ado, what follows is the fairest review I can muster for a game about which I’ve heard nothing but praise.
Gameplay consists of battling your way through a plethora of enemies as you explore semi-linear levels and seek out whatever you need to expand the Bastion, the last safe haven in this shattered world. Along the way, you obtain stronger weapons (both melee and long-range) and a growing variety of special attacks, such as a spinning attack, a decoy, and a lure that can summon small creatures to help fight alongside you. You can also upgrade your weapons and level up, though the latter doesn’t upgrade Kid in the traditional sense. Rather, when you level up, you can equip Spirits at the Distillery that can grant you permanent benefits. The game can be fairly challenging, but you can get an extra chance or two (basically like an extra life) to keep going if you die. And if you’d like an even greater challenge, you can activate idols at the Shrine, which will make the game harder, but increase your rewards.
In general, the gameplay of Bastion is fun enough, but not terribly unique. It seems that most people would agree that other aspects of the game are responsible for its positive reviews. First of all, the detailed and colorful graphics are a treat for the eyes. (I also hear positive things about the soundtrack, but I had the volume low…) The game is also narrated by a character named Rucks, whose dialogue may change depending on your actions, which is a pretty cool feature. I really liked this guy’s voice. I feel like he’d be right at home playing a cowboy in a Western. The story of the Calamity is another positive, the full details of which are revealed by the end of the game. You are also given several choices later on that change the ending, which is always a nice bonus.
Bastion typically sells for about $15, but it often goes on sale for $3 and can take roughly 6 hours to complete. I enjoyed Bastion well enough, but I can’t say I found it particularly fantastic. Considering it was released roughly a decade ago, perhaps it was a bigger deal for its time. As I mentioned earlier, that’s the problem with games that are so highly praised. It’s kind of hard for them to live up to the hype, regardless of quality. Even so, for that price (especially when it’s on sale), there’s little reason to pass this one up if you haven’t already experienced Bastion for yourself.