Bastion Review

Bastion is a wonderfully diverse game that offers up a great deal of flexibility in how you approach its many challenges.

Bastion is a game that's confident in what it has to offer--and for good reason. It's a beautifully detailed action role-playing game that doesn't waste your time with anything less than its best. Simplicity and variety permeate the entire game to create a wildly customizable experience that always leaves you excited for what's coming up next. Stages consistently end on a high note, and the number of ways you can tweak your character is extensive. There's a lot to discover in Bastion, and even after you've seen it all, it's still a game that's hard to put down.

While you were sleeping, the world ended. As The Kid, a rare survivor of the catastrophic Calamity, your best chance for survival lies with the bastion--a massive, floating island hovering untouched in the sky. The only problem is this: It's not yet finished, and its remaining pieces are scattered across a ruined and hostile landscape. With your very first steps this damaged world springs to life as the pieces of old bridges, stairways, and city streets reform at your feet thanks to a small piece of the bastion The Kid carries on his back. In addition to its visual appeal, this technique very subtly drives the player forward and helps direct your progress.

Combat requires that you stay light on your feet. Its challenge stems from spatial awareness and knowing which targets to strike first. While the world of Bastion does rise up around you, it only extends so far. The danger of falling over the edge is always present--thankfully, the penalty for this is only a slight loss of health. Some enemies like attacking in swarms, others lay down constant strings of projectiles that can box you into a corner. All throughout your time in Bastion new and varied enemies are introduced. To survive, the game forces you to act quickly and lash out at those most likely to lay on the hurt with a variety of different weapons.

The Kid can bring along two weapons at any given time, as well as one secret technique. You earn new armaments to equip at a constant pace throughout, and each has its advantages. For instance, the hammer may be powerful, but it has a low attack rate. On the flip side, the sword is incredibly fast, but it doesn't deal as much raw damage. This lets you tailor your loadout to suit your style or address a particular challenge. Using the mouse and keyboard setup on the PC also grants additional precision with ranged weapons. With the mouse, you can quickly and easily line up shots against distant targets.

Upgrading your weapons helps with that as well. Each weapon has five tiers of upgrades, with each tier broken into two improvements. The first tier of the hammer is a choice between extra damage or critical hit chance. While you can only have one of the two improvements active at a time, the game lets you switch back and forth between them at will. It's a welcome bit of flexibility that is too often lost in other role-playing adventures.

The Kid can roll around the battlefield to quickly get past enemies.

Each weapon also unlocks its own challenge stage. These stages test your martial prowess and teach you some new tricks with each armament--though they are hit or miss. The best are puzzles that force you to destroy targets in certain patterns to earn the best time. Others just test how fast you can mash a button. For your efforts, you can earn upgrade items or even secret techniques. Most of these techniques are tied to a specific weapon and are generally powerful attacks performed at the expense of collectable potions. You might unlock the ability to fire ricocheting shots from your bow or perform 360-degree swipes with your sword, for example.

Deciding which weapons to bring isn't your only means of character customization. As you fight, The Kid gains experience and levels up, which unlocks slots for you to equip various tonics. Swapping between these tonics can improve your character's stats, allow him to carry more items, or provide other benefits. Instead of giving yourself an edge, you can also make things harder by invoking the various deities at a shrine. Activating each one layers on an additional challenge, as well as increases the amount of experience you gain. For example, Micia, the goddess of loss and longing, lets foes slowly regenerate health (as well as provides a five percent experience boost). Together, all these customization options keep you mixing and matching throughout your time with Bastion.

All of this preparation pays off when you venture down to the world below. Each stage wastes little time getting you into the action, and they all play a little differently. One might have you racing through a collapsing resort while scores of flying enemies are nipping at your heels. Another puts you on a decrepit ferry boat that's under siege from all sides. No matter the setting, they are all quick, tightly focused outings that leave you excited to see what the game will throw at you next.

Whether you're at the bastion or in the field, you're always accompanied by the grizzly voiced narrator--and he's got something to say about nearly everything you do, even if you're just messing around. Somersault around the screen too much or stumble off the edge of the world and he won't hesitate to take a jab at you. The narrator also connects you to the plot. Everything--from the places you visit to the tonics you equip--has a story to tell. Instead of being taken out of the action and asked to watch a cinematic or pore over numerous journal entries, the narrator does all that for you. You can absorb his wisdom if you wish or simply mute him in the options menu.

While the narrator is quick to talk about his world, you have to venture into your own psyche (literally) to learn more about your character. In this dreamworld, the goal is to survive numerous waves of enemies. During the break between each wave, the narrator chimes in with another line about The Kid's colorful past. If you want to hear the whole story, you have to press on until the very end. After that, it's all about ranking up on the leaderboards.

However, the game is unclear on how exactly your score is calculated. The instructions state that your score depends on how many pantheon members you've invoked, but it seems some members influence the score more than others. You may also find that after you complete the survival challenge the first time, future attempts won't be reflected on the leaderboard even if you invoke more gods.

You can purchase new items, techniques, and pantheon members at the lost and found.

The world of Bastion is brought to life with some truly exceptional hand-painted environments. Every stylish bit of scenery is filled with tiny touches that add to the game's fairytale vibe. While the world may be filled with color, its muted tones help underscore a somber tale that grows darker and darker as you progress. It's a wonderfully crafted adventure that presents a fun and focused challenge you can customize in all sorts of ways. Once you finish, a new game-plus feature opens up that lets you carry over all your weapons and experience from the previous game. The sweet-talking turrets from Portal even make an appearance your second time through as a secret technique--much to the narrator’s bewilderment. Even though it may be the end of the world in Bastion, it's still an amazingly good time.

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The Good
Beautiful artistic style
Varied stages offer unexpected challenges
Lots of weapons and other unlockables
Numerous ways to customize your character and your experience
The Bad
Leaderboard requirements are needlessly obtuse.
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Other Platform Reviews for Bastion

Great review Maxwell!

Bastion is one of the best indie games I've ever played. It's easily in my top 4, next to Super Meat Boy, Braid and World of Goo. But I still haven't played Journey, Outland, Mark of the Ninja and Sound Shapes.


This is a great game. Anyone on the ropes about it, I played it twice! I get easily bored with games too. Great game. Great fun graphics. Great voice acting and interesting story. It's worth it.


I managed to get Bastion for PC off of Gamersgate for $15 and DRM-free. Totally worth it. Bastion also comes with the apps to make it run on Windows (via XNA), Mac or Linux right outta the box. Hail to open-source, baby!


Simplicity at it's best, great to see an indie game make such a good impression.


innovative in every aspect,for example the way you can set the difficulty,is really amazing.


Just bought the game. Can't wait to try it later on during my game time.


Art House~ best emblem for this game~!


at first look i think its like heimdall from amiga game but it disapoint me,not rpg game just a simple hack an slash and CAM from above


@Kungfu_Kenobi I think you'd be hard-pressed to find people who agree with you, because it's one the game's greatest strengths and the main reason why it's getting so much attention. The narration weaves together gameplay and story into one seamless unity. It's sharp, it's witty, and the writing might even offer Portal 2 some competition. Take the narration out of Bastion, and you take away any semblance of a story the game has. My only gripe was that it could have used a bit more variety, depending on your play style.


@Granpire "Why, exactly, would you wish to tune out the narrator?" His constant chatter is annoying.


Why, exactly, would you wish to tune out the narrator?


I really like this game.

Bastion More Info

  • First Released
    • iPhone/iPod
    • Macintosh
    • + 5 more
    • PC
    • PlayStation Vita
    • PS4
    • Unix/Linux
    • Xbox 360
    Bastion is an action role-playing game from Supergiant Games.
    Average Rating1883 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Bastion
    Developed by:
    Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, Supergiant Games
    Published by:
    Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, Supergiant Games
    Role-Playing, Action
    Content is generally suitable for ages 10 and up. May contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.
    Everyone 10+
    All Platforms
    Animated Blood, Fantasy Violence, Use of Alcohol and Tobacco