Bastion Review
Bastion Box Art
System: Xbox 360
Dev: Supergiant Games
Pub: WB Games
Release: July 20, 2011
Players: 1
Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p Animated Blood, Fantasy Violence, Use of Alcohol and Tobacco

Optional areas and minigames offer a break from the game's main levels. The Kid can visit various "proving grounds" at any point in order to complete weapon challenges that offer upgrades and special abilities as prizes. There are also three survival challenges in places known only as "Who Knows Where." Each tells the background story of one of the game's few surviving characters if The Kid can successfully fight off waves of enemies long enough to hear the entire tale. Like the main levels, these optional areas contain stories that add interest and flavor to the game. There's no padding here; everything is very deliberately crafted to give the player another piece of the puzzle that is Bastion's now-destroyed world.

Bastion's visuals and audio work are integral parts of the experience. The graphic design proves that it's possible to present a convincing post-apocalyptic setting that is also vibrantly colorful. Everything in the game is hand-drawn in a lovely watercolor style, with each level of the game possessing its own visual identity to go along with its unique design and story. The game's enemies are also well-drawn and animated, with personalities befitting their attack styles. The overall visual presentation is a breath of fresh air in a genre saturated with grim-darkness, and should be an inspiration for other small game companies.

Bastion Screenshot

The audio elements of the game are also top-notch. The musical selections help create the mood of each level, and the game's signature vocal piece is hauntingly beautiful. The narrator's voice acting is always on point, and his amenable storytelling style keeps his frequent narration from becoming tiresome. In fact, the entire narration system is brilliantly done, alternating between telling the story of the world and the Kid's personal story. Different actions will provoke different responses from the narrator, though impressively he almost never repeats himself. It's particularly gratifying to be rewarded for doing well in an action segment by the narrator. For example, after completing a sequence on a floating barge without falling off, the narrator breaks in with, "Know how many times The Kid fell off that barge? Not even once." It's moments like these that show how much the narrator contributes to the enjoyment of the game, causing the player to smile and think, "Yeah, I did well!"

Giving any details about the game's plot would only spoil the experience, but rest assured that it's a compelling mystery with numerous twists and turns. Almost all storyline questions are answered by the end of the game, but the answers to the moral conundrums it presents (and there are many) are left entirely up to the player. In fact, after going along with the main plan for most of the game, The Kid is finally given some choices to make at the very end. There is no judgment of the player's choices here, only the acknowledgment that The Kid has the right to decide some things after all the work he's done. When all is said and done, it's both a satisfying and deeply discomfiting story experience.

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With diverse, interesting gameplay, excellent production, and a world that sucks the player in, Bastion is a downloadable experience that's not to be missed. It's a game that every gamer should pick up, as it hits the core of why we all love our gaming hobby. Bastion celebrates experimentation, rewards exploration, allows room for growth and challenge, and never condescends. In the end, it leaves The Kid's motivations as an open issue. Are you a hero working toward a new golden age, a villain working out some major anger issues, or just a kid doing his best to muddle out of a bad situation? The Bastion ain't gonna tell you, son. That's gotta be up to you to decide.

By Becky Cunningham
CCC Contributing Writer

RATING OUT OF 5
RATING DESCRIPTION
4.5
Graphics
Colorful, beautifully hand-drawn graphics convey the former glory of a now-devastated world.
4.3
Control
Controls are easy to pick up, fluid, and responsive, with only a few weapons that are somewhat annoying to use.
4.7
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Good, mood-setting music and superlative voice acting from the game's ubiquitous narrator.
3.9
Play Value
Bastion is about ten hours long, but contains a number of optional challenges and a New Game Plus mode.
4.5
Overall Rating - Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
Review Rating Legend
0.1 - 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 3.5 - 3.9 = Good 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair 4.0 - 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Reactive narrator – Bastion introduces a one-of-a-kind reactive narration system, which gradually reveals a rich back story as the narrator reacts to the player's actions, allowing for the player to have a truly personalized gameplay experience. The game features thousands of lines of narration. No player will be able to hear it all the first time through the game.
  • Lush, hand-painted world – Bastion is presented in a high-definition, richly-detailed painterly art style, which enhances the fantastical world design and immerses players in the unique setting and atmosphere.
  • Nimble, active combat – The game offers exciting, highly responsive moment-to-moment action that rewards player skill and experimentation, allowing players to develop their own unique fighting styles by mixing and matching from a large variety of customizable weapons, each with their own special moves and mechanics.
  • Frequent gameplay-customizing choice – Bastion features many customizable elements including an array of weapons and upgrades as well as a special system that allows players to raise game difficulty in exchange for greater rewards.
  • Grand adventure – This is a full-length experience offering 8 to 10 hours of fully-narrated gameplay. Once players finish the journey, they unlock a "New Game Plus" mode, which introduces additional content and new ways to play.

  • Screenshots / Images
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