Bastion is proof that the small Indie guy can also make a profound impact on the gaming industry.
-Gorgeous artistic level design
-Plenty of customization
-Tricky targeting system
The Xbox Live Arcade, in the past couple years, has had an influx of incredible independent developers showcasing their bold creativity. With the top-end companies stuck in the sequel rut, the smaller Indie guys have stepped up and given the industry a much needed breath of fresh air. Bastion is a great example of how the 'little guy' can make a large impression on the industry too.
Bastion is set in a world that was mostly destroyed by the Calamity. The Calamity was extraordinary event that rocked the land of Caelondia and the rest of the surrounding area. All that remained are a few floating patches of land and a handful of survivors. The silent protagonist is one of these so called lucky ones and goes by the name 'The Kid'.
Strapped to the Kid's back is a gear shaped object which is a small piece of the Bastion: a floating safe haven for those not swept away by the Calamity. As the Kid wakes up from his slumber he proceeds to this last destination of hope and meets up with an elderly man, who incidentally is the narrator for the story, named Rucks. Rucks informs the Kid that he must find cores scattered through the land in order to power the Bastion and hopefully undo what the Calamity claimed.
The entire game is a retelling from Rucks on the events that happened with the Kid. His booming deep voice colorfully describe the events in real time. What's clever is that Rucks comments about everything you do in the game from explaining the Kid's overall quest to even the mundane aspects of his adventure. If you fall off the edge, carry a certain combination of weapons or even smash a few destructible objects, Rucks always has a witty reply which is neat because it adds a personal touch to your story.
Bastion is a action role playing game where you control the Kid in a top-down, isometric perspective. Your main base of operations is located on a floating land mass called the Bastion. From here the Kid can launch himself, via Skyways, to other land masses in search of Cores which have the power to rebuild what the Calamity destroyed.
Recovered Cores also help rebuild the Bastion allowing you to erect various structures which upgrades the game in all sorts of ways. These additions include a Distillery, which allows the Kid to choose a passive ability for each level of experience gained, and the Shrine which alters the game's difficulty. There are a total of six unique buildings each with their own perks to help the Kid in his adventure.
Outside of the Bastion, there are two different kinds of levels that the Kid can travel to: story progressing and skill challenge. The story based areas range from urban to jungle themes each and a population of unique enemies. The second type provides a skill-based mini-game where your skills with a single weapon are tested. The overall level design is creatively artistic and well crafted making traversing through the broken lands of Caelondia enjoyable. Another really cool feature is that the broken world recreates itself under the Kid's feet in real time. There were, however, a few sections were it was difficult to detect the edge of the level which made falling off the map almost inevitable.
The controls, for the most part, work well and allow you to briskly move around in combat to gain the best tactical advantage with ease. This is mostly done with the A button which allows you to perform a speedy dive roll. In more dire situations the Left Trigger pulls up a life saving shield to block and redirect incoming attacks and if you are in need for some health the Y button lets you take a swig from your potion reserves.
For offense, the Kid has a large arsenal of guns and blades to choose from like the skull cracking sledgehammer, an armor piecing longbow and even some fast-acting, dueling pistols. There are plenty of weapons to discover and you are allowed to carry two at one time; each mapped to the X and B buttons. The Right Trigger unleashes a powerful special ability to decimate large groups of monsters quickly. These special attacks cost you one bottle of black tonic so use them wisely. With plenty of options and combinations you'll have a fun time finding which setup suits your style of play. The only setback here is the targeting system which can sometimes have mind of its own. Thankfully, you can switch targets with RB and LB but this wastes valuable time is a crisis.
Currency in the game comes in the form of tiny blue shards that you acquire from defeating enemies and performing other tasks. These shards are used for purchasing and upgrading various items in Bastion. Most of time will be spent upgrading the equipment you find. Each weapon has a five tier skill tree with each tier separated into two options. What's refreshing is that if you aren't satisfied with your enhancement you can always switch things up at anytime and this kind of freedom is a nice touch.
GRAPHICS & SOUND
The artistic direction is absolutely brilliant in Bastion. As you progress through each level the landscape rebuilds itself under the Kid's feet in real time. It gives the impression that your actions are breathing new life into a broken world the Calamity shattered; a very clever effect.
The acoustic guitar melodies paint a picture that reminded me of the American wild west. In some aspects this is definitely the case where a lone hero ventures forth to bring peace back into the world. The music really compliments the theme for the entire game. The narrator is what gives Bastion a unique identity. The booming deep voice and clever dialog are enjoyable and memorable.
Bastion is an exciting new addition to the Xbox Live Arcade library. The artistic presentation, narration and other action RPG elements really make this game stand out from the crowd. Also, the fact that almost every aspect is customizable at anytime ensures that your game isn't ruined due to poor decision making. Overall, Bastion is a great experience that I would recommend to all RPG and action fans out there. Additionally, for those level grinders out there, the New Game Plus feature allows you to replay the story while keeping all your equipment and upgrades. The Calamity may have destroyed almost everything but with the power of the Bastion at the Kid's side, there is always hope for a better tomorrow.