The reader opened the link, with excitement and trepidation. The webpage scrolled into view. Words, colours and pictures flooded the screen. “I never was one for boring reviews, thank god for this” Thought the reader. It was with the internal monologue that the reader realised that his actions were being narrated. “Was I being watched? Did they see me do that thing with the thing earlier? I severely hope not” pondered a slightly unnerved reader.
Well that’s enough of that as I’m not here to narrate what you miscreants get up to. I’m here to introduce you to the enthralling and dangerous world of Bastion. Bastion is an action-adventure RPG and is the first title to come from Supergiant Games and distributed by Warner Bros interactive inc and what a first title it is. Part of this year’s Xbox Live Summer of Arcade which boasts a good pedigree of previous titles such as Limbo and Trials HD, Bastion more than settles itself in with the upper levels of downloadable games.
The first thing to strike you when you start playing Bastion is its very distinct art style. All the environments and assets are hand-drawn, giving the feel of something that has received a lot of love and attention. It’s this level of soul and a genuine love for this title from Supergiant Games that shines through and really makes you feel like your part of something special. If you’re looking for a visual comparison, then you wouldn’t be far wrong by looking at Braid as it has a very similar aesthetics.
Bastion however, isn’t a one trick pony. It brings something else to the plate which ties things nicely with what would appear to be a slightly random opening paragraph. Your journey throughout Bastion at first may seem a lonely one as you play as ‘The Kid’, but for the entire experience your every action, thought and move is narrated by a mysterious stranger. There’s just something about the narration in this game that makes it stand out head and shoulders above others that have tried something simliar in the past. It feels more than just placeholder triggers when the narrator speaks. I’ll given you an example. The opening scene of the game sees you running down a crumbling patch moving as fast as you can to reach the end. The first time I played this the narrator was saying how fast I was moving to reach the end. The second time I played this section I took more time and took out a few enemies on the way. This was commented on and never seemed samey considering I was playing the same section of the game. The third time I played this area, I was using the evasive roll to move quicker, the narrator commented how I was somersaulting all the way. It’s these little touches in the game that takes the narration aspect to the next level.
Whilst on the subject of audio, the score in this game is one of those few that penetrates your very soul. You’ll find yourself humming the tunes whilst you go about your daily business and this then makes you want to jump right back into the rich and mesmerising world of Bastion.
There are some points I feel I must bring to peoples attention with this title however. Firstly, it is linier, but in the case of Bastion this is played as a strength. In a world of an open ended game, sometimes all you want is a destination and the game to take you on a ride. This is certainly one of those occasions where you’ve paid your ticket fee and love every minute of the journey. Secondly, there’s the combat. Whilst Bastion doesn’t fall short of combat options it can sometimes be overwhelming with the number of weapons you acquire.
Now with the vast array of combat options, the game has weapon specific challenges that not only reward you for quick times and skill but do a great job helping you understand how each weapon has its place in the universe. One thing is for sure, you’re not going run out of things to kill stuff with.
Another novel thing that Bastion does is its use of something called Idols within the game. These act like a difficulty setting, allowing you to add features to the enemies, providing a higher degree of challenge. The more Idols you equip the higher the challenge will be and the higher yield of experience points and currency you receive. Despite what these do to the game, it’s still done in such a way that never feels like it doesn’t belong within this universe.
The combat itself is pretty straight forward. You can assign a weapon to the X and B buttons and then either use the right stick or LT to use your shield. As mentioned earlier due to the number of weapons at your disposal there’s something for everybody and every situation.
Its not all peaches and cream with Bastion though, as there are something’s that won’t tick the boxes for everybody. Its price tag is on the higher end of the XBLA scale at 1200MS points, which may put some people off. Also the levels at times can seem quite short, althoughI don’t know if this is a bad thing, but the whole game leaves you wanting more. Even after completing the game twice. (I have to add the ending is very satisfying though)
Supergiant games have outdone themselves with Bastion as a first title and I for one will be keeping a close eye to see what this studio can produce next. As one humble community manager for Midlife Gamer I ask you to do just one thing after reading this, download the trial for this game. The number of people I know who have bought this title from the strength of the trial alone has made me happy and I want to share this happiness with you. Go on download it now or I’ll send the narrator round.
MLG Rating: 9.5/10
Platform: Xbox 360 Release Date: 21/07/2011