Bastion: A Game Review
Bastion was an amazing game; everything about Bastion was beautimous! Especially when you consider that I haven't been a huge fan of modern "platformer" style games in several years, there's a lot of weight in my saying it's amazing! I'm a gamer, through and through. Every aspect of most games is extremely important -- not just special effects and general gameplay mechanics.
Click for the TL;DR version and video if you'd like.
Otherwise, let's break a few things down for a complete Bastion game review:
- The high definition cartoon style of the art in Bastion was very balanced; pleasing to the eye for most gamers with enough flash to keep the flair-lovers focused. The style was universal throughout the entire game -- everything fit.
- All animation was high quality and smooth.
- Effects and explosions fit each of their own sense of boom, fizz, pop and puff relating to their sources; masterfully done.
- The screen effects that went along with events such as status ailments, The Kid being hit, abnormal movement (like being tossed in the air) and low health had an astonishing immersion quality to them. They weren't only optical warnings and updates. They give this top-down point of view some first-person view qualities.
- The world and environment were gorgeous. Nearly every level was a different type of ecosystem and terrain. Each had their own style. I was actually quite surprised at how well it all fit together, including using similar mobs between different levels and they still looked like that was their home.
- Graphic User Interface (GUI) I think goes here as well. The elements on screen during gameplay were both informative and out of the way. Menus and other GUIs were simple and uniform throughout. Large and easy to see.
- Mechanics - A little difficult for me to explain as there's several aspects from human interaction response to in-game mechanics; how things work.
- While many people might sum up most responsiveness to relying on their system or its peripherals (mouse and keyboard), there's plenty of games that just aren't very responsive to gamer input. Bastion is not one of those. Everything is quick and twitch reaction can make or break your battles.
- You can only carry 2 weapons at a time. Commonly it would be expected to have a melee as one and a ranged weapon as the other but you're not locked into this scheme. Even though you acquire a lot of different weapons, you can only change what's equipped at an Arsenal; available at The Bastion or uncommonly in a few levels (usually following the pickup of a new weapon).
- How damage was done with each weapon was sensible to the weapon it was. The Cael Hammer was a huge hit but slower swings while the War Machete (katana) being smaller did less damage per hit but almost no time between swings. Each weapon had its own set of mechanics that made it unique, useful and balanced.
- The upgrade system for weapons gave weapons unique style possibilities for the individual weapon. Each upgrade level gives 2 options. You may be given the same upgrade options as a previous upgrade; you can either stack it or balance the effects.
- Most special abilities are only available with their matching weapon. For example, the Breaker Bow allowed a special ability, Dancing Shot, which allowed the arrow to bounce between targets. Wouldn't make much sense wielding a hammer and Dueling Pistols. There were neutral special abilities as well, such as a grenade. The special abilities were limited by the Tonic bottles which you can only carry a few at a time.
- The dodging roll ability gets used quite often. It's not a new defensive mechanic in gaming. However, to give it an offensive perk, it also does a small amount of damage when you roll into or through opponents and destructible objects.
- The passive bonuses gained through the drinks at the Distillery was icing on the cake. Only being allowed a certain quantity of perks based on your level was the limit to this so The Kid couldn't be completely overpowered.
- Health Tonics and other pickups are just a second nature task in collecting them. I liked the reward system for taking less damage, in that you gain extra XP when your life is full without any room for more. It also keeps from that constant subconscious nag that some games have where you’re forced to leave an item just laying there… such a waste.
- Bastion’s story has true depth with some complex and unique twists.
- Storyline’s delivered right along with the game and interactively. While the current and future events unfold throughout the game, bits and pieces of history are narrated as the game is played by the character, Rucks.
- Simple and clean mini cut-scenes seldomly come up. When they do, it’s for the few major events. These cut-scenes can be skipped, even though they’re already pretty short.
- There wasn’t craziness. Everything had a time, a place and a reason, all of which fit for the entire game. The plot twists weren’t outlandish and bizarre (in relativity to the game’s scope).
- Many elements were left for the player to discover and experience. Side items and bonuses weren’t given tons of unneeded attention. For example, once introduced to the first god and initially getting The Shrine built, that was pretty much it. (Note: Pyth was an exception as he was the introduction to using idols and is genuinely part of a few storyline events.)
- First off, the most obvious once you start playing, narration. Rucks, the elder character who guides The Kid, is also the one who is telling the story. The narrator belongs here. And he doesn’t just fit in. He is an integral part of balance between immersion, information and storytelling.
- The music freaking rocked! There was so much going on with various levels in the background music, it was astonishing. For the untrained ears, you can listen to a wide variety of several different types of instruments in almost every track; and it fit perfectly to the environment and/or the situation.
- Sound effects were crisp and clear without any ear piercing or shockwave inducing extremes.
If that's not enough to persuade you, be sure to check out my Let's Play Bastion Series where you can watch, listen and enjoy the game without commentary. Included below is the short and sweet "DracoSys Reviews Bastion" video.