It's not just a great game; it's a moving and compelling piece of interactive art that picks its battles and wins them.
+ Story is powerful and perfectly delivered
+ Tons of options, from weapon choice to difficulity
+ Pitch-perfect soundtrack, voice acting, and art direction
+ Every piece supports the game as a whole
- All good things must end...
Many games can overstay their welcome or venture too far out of their wheelhouse, creating an uneven experience that does a lot of things, but doesn't necessarily do all of them particularly well. Bation takes the opposite approach, providing an incredibly focused experience that combines a unique setting, exhilarating action-heavy gameplay, and flawless storytelling into an immensely rewarding package.
As The Kid, you do battle with the savage remnants of a world torn apart by a disaster known as The Calamaity. Dealing with your various foes requires dodging, using timed blocks, and collecting, upgrading and selecting (two at a time) a number of unique weapons. While the basics of combat are incredibly straightforward, the steady stream of new weapons, enemies, and special moves means that it never feels stale or repetitive. If things ever feel too easy, you can always increase the difficulty by invoking the wrath of various deities at the shrine, which will give your enemies various bonuses in exchange for increased XP rewards.
As good as the action is, though, it can't hold a candle to the impeccable storytelling. Your actions are constantly narrated by the gruff-voiced Stranger, who helps unravel one hell of a yarn, all while providing some truly amusing moments of whimsy. I wouldn't dare reveal any story points here, as Bastion's narrative is simply too incredible to paraphrase or spoil, but I must say that it is simply the most emotionally significant experience that I have ever witnessed in a game, or any medium for that matter. As soon as you finish the 7-8 hour story, you will want to immediately dive back in using the game's New Game Plus mode, which lets you keep your old weapons and experience.
What's most incredible about Bastion, though, is just how well all of the aspects of it work together. The combat, narration, characterization, music (which is simply jaw-droppingly perfect), and art design all work flawlessly together to create a fully realized world. For such a short and focused experience, that's an incredible achievement, and it's why Bastion is able to deliver not just as a game, but as a truly emotional experience. Even though Caelondia is a city in ruin, you won't want to leave, and you certainly won't be the same once you've lived its story. Bastion grabs you with a unique premise, keeps you engaged with solid gameplay, and caps it off with a timeless story that makes it more than just a game - it's a rite of passage.