Editor’s Note: Bastion has been reviewed previously. This review is more complete and in-depth.
From start to finish, Bastion is narrated by a guy introduced as “The Stranger” who sounds like he dropped out of the Wild West to describe the events of the game world and of the game’s hero, “The Kid”. It’s a novel concept. If books and movies can have a narrator, why not a video game? Beyond narration, Bastion is heavy on quality artwork, occasionally charming music, and fun yet repetitive action, that ultimately ends at around the right time – for me, the nine hour mark.
Bastion starts after “The Calamaty”, perhaps an event not big enough to be apocalyptic, but distressing to the world. Aside from frequent enemy encounters, some people left in the Calamaty’s wake have been reduced to ash. After an introduction to combat, you arrive at the Bastion, a central hub that needs to be rebuilt a building at a time.
Early on, the narrator himself is found along the way and he goes straight to the Bastion. He slowly teaches you that cores have been scattered throughout the world. Cores remember the world as it was, and reclaiming them restores peace to the land of Bastion. It’s a bit of a weak story, but the narrator keeps it moving. Though the Bastion is mostly empty upon arrival, you can head north to the Skyway, and land in places where cores can be located.
Speaking of land, from the start of the game, land springs from beneath your feet as you travel. Though some land is already there, most of the time it’s arriving from what looks to be a blurred painting below you. This was likely just a stylistic choice made by the developers, and much as I do like it, I wish there was a story hook for why it’s in the game.
Combat is a high-point. You find a hammer early on, only to find a repeater after a bit of fighting some ghost-like creatures. More weapons make themselves available throughout the game, and you can upgrade weapons in the Bastion at a forge. Doing so involves using an upgrade tree with two options per row of upgrades. Your repeater as an example, one option might increase reload time by a percentage, and another might increase ammo capacity — and you can’t have both.
Combat is a back and forth between upgrading the two weapons you have, and testing them in the field. It’s worth noting you have a slot in your arsenal for magic, but the choices for types of magic aren’t that great. It’s also worth noting that you fight a lot of the same types of enemies until a new enemy is finally introduced. This is a big drawback in my opinion.
Bastion is an art showpiece most of all. Playing can feel like walking through a painting. To prepare for the ending, I spent a lot of time in “Who Knows Where” (a battle arena-type place), getting points to level up my gear. This made the game much easier. I had fun with it, but the action is simple, easy, and grows tiresome. I did not play the New Game Plus.