August 1, 2011

Bastion: The Review

This is the sec­ond time in a row that the Sum­mer of Arcade has start­ed off with an obscure title that I nev­er real­ly fol­low until it hits, and they end up being one of my favorite games. Lim­bo last year caught me off guard with its sim­ple sto­ry telling, malev­o­lent world, and plat­form­ing game play. This year Bas­tion is my Lim­bo, some­thing that com­plete­ly sur­prised me in every way and I am bet­ter off all for it. Bas­tion is some­thing that Hol­ly­wood and the main stream games indus­try is lack­ing, cre­ativ­i­ty. Bas­tion oozes good­ness out of all its pours to cre­ate some­thing unique yet you feel like you have played this before.
The game is an iso­met­ric action RPG much in the vein of torch­light or Dia­blo. You have an active com­bat sys­tem, heath vials, and a com­bi­na­tion of ranged and melee weapons, 11 weapons in all. Those weapons are upgrad­able through find­ing the right min­er­als for the right weapons and spend­ing the shards of crys­tals you obtain by smash­ing things in the world and ene­mies. You can roll and jump­ing becomes avail­able to you late in the game. You have a spe­cial abil­i­ty that is mapped to the right trig­ger. 20 of these abil­i­ties in all, some are weapon spe­cif­ic while oth­ers take effect regard­less of your load out. After the tuto­r­i­al you have a cen­tral hub know as the Bas­tion. From there you will choose your des­ti­na­tion to progress the sto­ry or to head to weapon chal­lenge areas that pro­vide you with prac­tice to hone your skill with a par­tic­u­lar weapon and to gain prizes depend­ing on how well you do. As the sto­ry pro­gress­es you will rebuild the Bas­tion any way you see fit. Depend­ing on what build­ing you choose to res­ur­rect first will deter­mine your options for upgrad­ing and choos­ing load outs, etc. The action when out in the world is pret­ty stan­dard action RPG fare but watch­ing the Kid, the main pro­tag­o­nist, ham­mer and ene­my nev­er got old. Includ­ed in the Bas­tion, once cer­tain items are obtained, there are chal­lenge rooms for you to com­plete known as “Who Knows Where” that will gain you mass amounts of shards and XP. Towards the end of the game there are a few “choic­es” that you have to make. They caught me off guard but was pleas­ant­ly sur­prised to see they were grey choic­es; no right vs. wrong. I feel they were added to make the end­ing how you want­ed it to end, give the user some input on this cre­ative title.
Style is the name of this game and it oozes this stuff out in gal­lons. The art style is amaz­ing. It is a blend of water­col­or and ani­me that gives it a 16-bit mod­ern feel. The lev­els come up from right under the Kids feet giv­ing a sense of pro­gres­sion through­out the game. The game is 3‑D but lay against a water­col­or paint­ing in the back­ground. The art is sim­ply stun­ning. The real catch to the game is the way the sto­ry and action are told through­out by Rucks; a char­ac­ter and nar­ra­tor. Every time you come to a point that would require nar­ra­tive or just sim­ply choos­ing a new load out, Rucks is there with a smooth voice over that nev­er stops the action. It is some­thing so sub­tle and so well done you will start to hate $60 titles that have hor­ri­ble voice work even more; I know a few full priced games that should be down­right ashamed. Then we come to the music. Oh the music. I have not want­ed to go out and buy a sound­track as bad as this one. The sound­track was com­posed by Dar­ren Korb, as is amaz­ing. It is all over the place with its influ­ences but comes togeth­er so well. There are Indi­an, Mid­dle East­ern, Euro­pean, Japan­ese, and west­ern influ­ences abound, I would pay $15 for the sound­track alone; it is that good. I will leave you with a few tracks at the end of the review.
Bas­tion is a great start to the Sum­mer of Arcade. The only gripe I have with the game is the frame rate stut­ters when there are plen­ty of ene­mies on the screen but this rarely hap­pened. Add in a new game + mode that you unlock when you fin­ish the game and Bas­tion rounds out an already impres­sive pack­age. If you are in away a fan of action RPG’s, inter­ac­tive sto­ry telling at its finest, or love to see some­thing tru­ly unique and cre­ative then I implore you to pick up Bas­tion; could be eas­i­ly the best game of the sum­mer.
+ Inter­ac­tive nar­ra­tion
+Fun, upgrad­able com­bat
+A visu­al style like no oth­er
+an amaz­ing sound­track
+choic­es, no dis­tinct right or wrong
‑Frame rate drops on occa­sion
Final Score 9/10
Editor’s note:  It took me about 8 hours to com­plete the game. There are dif­fer­ent end­ings as well as a new game+ mode that is avail­able after com­ple­tion. I could see a few replays down the road. Here is some of the music from the game for you to enjoy.
[Gal­leries 7 not found]

1 comment

  1. Billy - August 2, 2011 4:32 am

    sound­track was awe­some!


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