It's very hard to pin Bastion down to any one category, seeing as how it broke conventions in so many ways. You could certainly throw it in with the rest of the Action-RPGs out there, and if you're an ARPG fan you'll feel right at home here, but sticking it with that label really undersells the unique qualities that this game has.
Most people will jump straight to the colorful art style or top-notch narration as the the thing that sells it. They're not wrong, but the real achievement here is the coherence of all these elements together. Even your character is closely melded, visually, to the environment. While that can cause the occasional confused roll-to-the-death, it's a feat in and of itself how close it strikes the necessary balance between visibility and immersion.
The plot is your standard fare, post-apocalyptic hero story, nothing to write home about, but the delivery of that plot is handled well, even artistically. The world's constant rise and fall beneath your feet earns special marks, not just for its use as a great plot device, but also a worthy gameplay mechanic.
This isn't to say the story is boring, just well-tread. The aforementioned narration is delivered in a way that I've yet to see it done as intricately with another game in this genre. Similarly, the musical score fits, and is dynamic to your situation within the game, so there's just one more thing this game does well enough. You get the point.
The overworld is clever, if not revolutionary. There's plenty of challenge areas to keep you sharp, plus they offer upgrades for your weapons as an incentive to perfect them. It's a nice hook that doesn't overdo it.
Bastion also gives you a base of operations, or hub island of sorts, where level progression earns you the opportunity to build useful structures. I really wish they had done more with this concept, but at the same time it adds to the narrative indirectly without giving too much weight to your choices. Sometimes that's a good thing.
Ultimately, there's not many bad things to say about Bastion, that aren't at least made up for by the unique delivery of those things. It's a game that stands alone in a lot of ways, even if it follows some familiar arcs.
The Steam community seems to confirm this take for the most part, with a long-standing review score of Overwhelmingly Positive. It's a game that almost anyone can enjoy, and like most brain-candy, it feels like it's over too soon. Deep down though, I think you'll agree it's better that way.
Vibrant colors and a keen eye for detail in an otherwise post-apocalyptic, piecemeal world, the unique art of Bastion is one of its most prevailing points.
Although some of the voice effects can become repetitive, the music is on point on the narration is some of the best we've seen in a video game.
Mastering the different weapons can be cumbersome, I never really felt the need to change it up all that much. Art style leads to occasional falling off the map, luckily you don't take much of a penalty for this because it happens probably more than it should.
PROS / CONS
- Beautiful, unique art style
- Narration is dynamic and amazing
- Variety of weapons and boons
- World plays intricate part of gameplay
- Art style can cause occasional confusion about where you are on screen
- Lock on for weapons doesn't always feel intuitive
- Too short?