Bastion is the first title in this year’s Summer of Arcade and it is a great way to start out the five week promotion. In Bastion you play the role of “The Kid” and you awake to a world that has been destroyed by the Calamity. You have no idea what happened or who was behind it and you spend the game trying to answer these questions. Along the way you find some survivors that will help you in various ways. The Bastion is the hub world for the game and it is the place that you are trying to rebuild. You do so by finding some Cores and placing them in a monument at the Bastion. As you do that you will gain access to different buildings such as an armory, a distillery, an arsenal and more. These buildings can also be upgraded at a later point in the game. You utilize these buildings to upgrade your weapons and skills as well as toggle the difficulty of the game and more. Each building is important to the world of Bastion for different reasons and you will be visiting each on numerous occasions.
The art style is one of the things that will immediately jump out at you when you start the game. It seems to be almost like a water color aesthetic and looks amazing. The environments that you visit throughout the game are varied and the different enemies that you face really show off this beautiful world. The combat is of the hack and slash variety and the game allows you to carry two weapons at a time along with a special skill. The weapons in your arsenal range from a sword to a bow and arrow to something called the “Calamity Cannon” and more. Each weapon handles differently and helps to add some variety to the gameplay. Before each mission you can visit the arsenal and decide which loadout you would like to utilize. There are also some levels that will have an arsenal within them so if you don’t like how a weapon performs in any given situation you can switch it out without too much hassle. As you go through the game you will hear the voice of Rucks. Amongst other things, Rucks is the guy who narrates your adventure. What is really interesting here is that Rucks narrates the action as it unfolds. If I fall off of a high ledge he might make a remark about how the kid should be more careful. If I am battling a group of enemies trying to reach the end of the level he will talk about how I am battling my opposition and how I am doing what I need to do to get out of the situation alive. It is something I haven’t really experience in any other game and it is a fantastic concept. The world itself is alive and materializes right under my feet. If I stand still and look around it looks like I might be standing on an island in the sky. However, if I walk forward the ground will all of a sudden appear underneath my feet as I try to reach my goal. That was a fantastic decision by the development team and helps with the overall charm of the game.
As you progress through the game and learn more about what has taken place you will find out that things might not be as they originally seemed. Bastion does feature two endings so, if you are a completionist, you are going to want to see both of them. Additionally, once you beat the game you will be given access to a “New Game Plus” mode. For those not familiar with this concept, playing the New Game Plus mode allows you to go through the adventure again from the beginning, however, all of your weapons and skills carry over from your original file. That way you are just as powerful at the beginning of the game as you were at the end during your original adventure. There are also people who might find that Bastion is a bit too easy for them. If that turns out to be the case for you then the “Shrine” is the answer. This is the spot where you can toggle the difficulty for the game. The Shrine allows you to invoke the gods to make the game more of a challenge. One great example of this is if you invoke Micia (Goddess of Loss and Longing) then the enemies will regenerate from any injury. Another one would be Pyth (God of Commotion and Order) which will allow your foes to grow quicker to move and to strike. These can be turned on and off again as much as you like so if you are looking for more of a challenge be sure to look here.
As I mentioned above, the Bastion works as your hub for the game. Once you do everything that you can do you will have to utilize a Skyway. The Skyway is the way that you fly to the next level. You are shown a map with the different locations that you can visit as well as the places you need to go to advance the story. In addition to the standard levels you also have “Proving Grounds” for each weapon. This is where you have to prove your skill with a weapon and you will be justly rewarded depending on how you do. These are also tied in to some achievements for those people who like to unlock everything. Additionally, this is where you will collect quite a bit of Fragments which acts as the currency for the game. It’s a system that works really well and if you are the type of person who likes to grind in your role playing games then you will definitely have the chance to do some of that here as well.
Overall Bastion is an exceptional title and a tremendous start to the 2011 Summer of Arcade promotion. This is the first title from Supergiant Games and they have hit a home run with it. Doing that on your first attempt is incredibly difficult and it makes me excited for whatever their next project might be. I would love to see a sequel to Bastion as I feel there could be other stories told within this universe. As for this game specifically, if you are a fan of the action RPG genre then you need to give this game a try. Even if you aren’t a fan of that genre be sure not to skip this game. This is one of those arcade games that everyone needs to own and it is one of those titles that I will keep returning to. Bastion is a fantastic experience and, hopefully, is an indicator of the great games yet to come from this development team.