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Friday, August 5, 2011

Quick Review: Bastion

Gameplay - 8.5

Supergiant games’ releases their debut title “Bastion,” a story driven action RPG adventure available as part of XBL’s 2011 “Summer of Arcade.” In Bastion you take control of a post apocalyptic survivor known only as “The Kid.” As you trudge through the remains of Caelondia you’ll slowly piece together an arsenal of both melee and projectile combat weapons. After acquiring these tools of the trade you’re able to hack, slash, and shoot a path through anything standing in your way. Doing so will net you experience points as well as fragments which act as currency. You can use the fragments to purchase materials to upgrade your weapons at an “Forge,” or buy various perk granting spirits available at the “Lost and Found.” Your main purpose in all of this is to locate the “Cores” and “Shards” which enable you to re-build and upgrade the safe haven known as “Bastion.” Here you are able to erect your own distillery, armory, forge, and a variety of other buildings that can be put to use in your quest for survival. You will also have the option to evoke the wrath of one of the worlds many deities from within the “Shrine.” This will increase a enemy attributes, or grant them special perks that raise the game’s difficulty level. This doesn’t go without merit though as you will receive more experience points and fragments for defeating enemies than normally. It’s a smart feature that takes away the mundane task of navigating menus and interjects difficulty customization into the story. The gameplay as a whole is your typical hack and slash action/adventure RPG affair. However, it’s fast paced action and bevy of enemies and obstacles render the repetitive “beat-em-up” elements fresh and new every time you play. Bastion is certainly an enjoyable experience that forces your hand in the strategy department, but also keeps button mashers happy.

Story – 9.0

Bastion’s story element is unique, in that it’s being told as you progress further into the game. To an extent, what you do shapes the tale. It’s unique storytelling quality comes in the form of an in game narrator not bound exclusively to cut scenes. He narrates everything from getting up and walking around to killing enemies and destroying scenery. Despite suspicions that consistent narration might become annoying, players will find that it was done within reason. The person telling the story, who is little more then a voice from the start, becomes a character the kid interacts with further down the line. His character eventually identifies himself as Rucks and his spoken account of the kid’s adventure evolves as you move forward. More of the how and why is revealed by Rucks with the retrieval of each core and the discovery of wary survivors not taken by the calamity. The stories overall tone of sadness and regret is especially shown through with character backstories. This is central to the games success and embellishes the already solid gameplay.


Game Modes/Presentation – 8.5

Bastion boasts a very lush and colorful display showcasing stunning landscapes in the wake of destruction, flowing action sequences, and a melting pot of unique enemies. With that said, Bastion retains the feel of an old-school action RPG while maintaining an impressive environment. However, it does lack a separate mini game mode, but that’s neither here nor there because the developers seamlessly incorporate the mini game within the story. Bastions mini-game manifests itself in the form of “Proving Grounds” which require you to engage in various challenges for each weapon acquired. Eleven Proving Ground mini games are scattered throughout the world, each testing you in different ways, for example, one requires you to obtain a specific score with your pistol against stationary targets in a timely manner, another tests your ability to crush every inanimate object in sight with your hammer, each Proving Ground plays to the strengths of the specific weapon.. Your success rate determines if you will unlock one, two, or all three of the possible rewards.


Graphics – 8.5

Most graphics today are on point with the advancement of technology, unless your talking about “Duke Nukem: Forever. Bastion feels like playing a comic book painted on canvas, without any annoying glitches or slow loading screens. It’s a smooth ride from start to finish.


Sound - 8.5

In keeping up with it’s solid graphics, Bastion is also proficient in the sound department. Melee and ranged weapon attacks, gulping down health potions, grunts and dialogue (executed mostly by Rucks the narrator) are all covered here. What’s more though, the game’s music is an attractive element, making the frenzy of action even more fun and exciting then it would be with just a wall of sound.


Online - N/A


Final Score: 9.0

Every year that XBL cranks out “Summer of Arcade” titles, there is always one game that stands above the rest. This years diamond in the rough is “Bastion” hands down. It takes repetitive RPG elements and keeps it interesting with difficulty customization and multiple enemies that make you think before rushing blindly into battle. It’s graphics and sound are also admirable for a downloadable title. If anything though, you should play this game for it’s story. It allows you to create your own tale through cause and effect which will then be narrated as if you handed Rucks the script yourself. One of the few games that’s worth 1200 Microsoft points.


Reviewed by Mondo



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