Bastion

A beautiful smash-em-up.
The Bastion
The Bastion (at the beginning)

Bastion is a gorgeously animated and fun topdown game.  Ciel (you) wakes up on a floating island.  Everything around him (you) has been destroyed except a few floating islands, and the floating debris between them.  As he progresses over the islands he discovers his favorite weapon, his hammer.  He then destroys everything around him, if he wants.  Eventually he finds his way to the Bastion, a floating island that is, and will become, the main hub for his adventures.

On the island you meet Rucks, who is the narrator.  He's an old man that talks about any part of the game that you choose to visit, giving a little background to each map.  Some of the information he gives is interesting or can help navigate different areas.  Some of it can be a little sarcastic if the player decides to take a different path than narrated.

From the bastion you can choose which available area to visit.  The story will progress you through different maps, each of which has a unique feel.  Be careful with each map and make sure you explore as much as you can or want as you finish each map it will be marked as complete and you wont be able to visit it again.  And unfortunately, some maps will be falling apart as you visit, leaving nothing but rubble when you leave.

Map
Cutscenes

Progressing through the game there will be some cut scenes.  Cut scenes in this game consist of narration over a single image or a set of images.  They provide a decent amount of story.  The voice acting, artwork, and music are very well done, so watching the cut scenes is definitely worth the time.

The controls are very easy to learn.  They feel natural and work well with gameplay.  As there are a variety of weapons it's easy to find a set that works well with many game types.  If you like to be in the thick of the battle you can use a hammer, pike, machete, or shotgun.  If you like staying in the back you can use the rifle or bow, among other weapons.  There are also a variety of secret abilities that help allow for certain play styles.  You can select the different options at various buildings that show up in the maps, or you can change your options at the Bastion.

As you finish each map you can collect a shard, that allows you to upgrade the Bastion in a variety of ways.  The variety of buildings will be explained below.

The Bastion (at the end)
Armory

The armory is the main building that you'll use to select your weapons.  You can carry two weapons, and this is where you can see what all you have available.  Regardless of what weapons you have selected in your inventory many maps will have new weapons, which will replace what you currently were using.  As much of a bother as that may be, the game typically gives you a great weapon for the map that you are playing or for the area you are about to attempt.  As annoying as it may be many maps also give you access to an armory where you can change your weapons after getting the new one.  I would suggest trying a variety of weapons, especially if they're upgraded.  The variety of upgrades can make a big difference with how the weapons work.

Speaking of upgrades, you can upgrade your weapons at the Forge.  As you progress through the game you will find some oddly named items, such as 'something heavy', 'something sticky', and 'something pointy', among others.  These items are used to upgrade each of the items, along with the currency.  Each upgrade provides one of two benefits.  The shotgun may give more power but shorter distance or longer distance but narrower damage area.  Upgrades are key to surviving later in the game.

Weapon Upgrades
Secret Skills

The Arsenal also allows for access to the Secret Skills.  The secret skills are a set of skills that you can use to help bamboozle your enemies, deal massive damage, or provide with secret attacks, depending on your weapon.  The arsenal will give you an explanation to each of the skills, as well as the weapons each of them may be paired with.  You can find some around on the maps you visit (which would take precedence over what you had) or at the store.

The store, the Lost and Found, is a great place to find new items, buy the missing parts for upgrades, or find new drinks (upgrades at the distillery) or shrine idols (which makes the game harder).  More items will become available the further into the game you play.  If you choose to start a new game plus there will be even more options available. These items can drastically change how the game is played.

The Store
The Shrine

The Shrine is an interesting building that makes the game more ... challenging.  At the shrine you can active any idols, each of which provides a different challenge to the game.  Some make the enemies recover health, another has more of the heavy hitter enemies spawn instead of the little guys.  Another idol will have enemies hit harder.  But the benefit of using these idols is that they provide a bigger challenge for a bigger payout.  An enemy that hits harder will give more experience.  An enemy that regenerates may provide more money, and so forth.  If you keep dying at a map the game will give you an option to restart the level without the shrines, which would make the map a little (or a lot) easier to complete.

Another building is the Memorial, which is a challenge board where you can see what challenges you would have to complete for additional money.  More challenges will become available the later into the game you progress, as some of them require a certain item or weapon to complete.

The last building that you'll use is the Distillery.  It's a building where you can equip different drinks, each of which gives you a specific benefit.  One drink will allow you to carry more health tonics.  Another drink will allow you to walk faster when using your shield.  Yet another will have the money be attracted to you at a further distance.  And so on and so forth.

Distillery
Challenge Maps

As mentioned earlier you can select challenge maps from the main map at the Bastion.  Each weapon has a specific challenge map, which will give you different rewards depending on how well you perform.  There are different rewards that are given depending on how well or fast you perform.  The items can be weapon upgrade parts or money.  If you want to test your skills the challenge maps and the shrine idols are a good way to do that.  There are other challenge maps, but I'll allow the player the fun of finding those on their own.

In the end the game is a very well made and extremely beautiful game.  The music is very well done.  Parts are haunting, leaving a lasting feeling on you as walk away.  The music accentuates the mood of the maps.  It is not overbearing nor does it distract from the game.  The animation is very well done and is very smooth.  The controls are easily learned and easy to use.  After a few maps it's easy to play without making any serious control mistakes.

After everything is said and done this game is amazing.  There are little to no things I could say bad about this game, as anything I could say are based on my own mistakes and not anything the game has done.  It facilitates a variety of play styles and levels of difficulty. This game can be as casual as you'd want or as difficult as you want.  This is definitely a game that you should have in your library, especially if it's on sale.  And if you can, buy the soundtrack.  You won't regret it.

Score 9 out of 10

It's easy to learn how to play, while having variable weapons, items, and difficulties.

The music fits the gameplay perfectly without being too overbearing or distracting. It's good enough to get caught in your head.

The controls are pretty easy to learn and use, though I found myself making simple errors in high intensity situations.

The weapon selection is very wide, allowing for a great variety of gameplay. If you want to be in your face melee combat, there's swords, hammers, and shotguns. If you want to fight from a distance, you have the rifle, pistols, bow, mortar, and so forth.

There's little difference in the game between play-throughs. There is a New Game Plus mode, where you start with everything you had at the end. It makes some levels easier to play, but there's little difference unless you activate the relics at the Shrine, which increases the strength of enemies.

PROS / CONS

  • Music
  • Different Path Options
  • Weapon Variation
  • Challenge Areas
  • Simple gameplay
  • Death means you have to reply entire level
  • Level upgrades change your weapon / ability
  • Grindy when getting materials
  • Reptition
  • No Save States

KEYS AVAILABLE: NONE