After Steam’s Summer Sale (my poor wallet!), I came to the conclusion that I have way too many games to play, and so, after beating Pokémon Conquest, I jumped right into a new game that I should’ve played a looong time ago: Bastion. Bastion solidifies my belief that indie games, while shorter than most big console games, can be so much more satisfying when you take care to empower the strengths of your game.
The plot is actually fairly straightforward. The Calamity, an event that turned the world upside down and inside out, has just happened, and you, The Kid, go to the Bastion, which is where everyone agreed to go in case something terrible happened. When you get there, you find that only you and a lone stranger have survived, and you’re tasked with building the Bastion. As you go looking for the cores that will power the Bastion, you find Zulf and Zia, two Ura who survived the Calamity, and learn some history of the world. The Ura and humans (or Caelondians, as they’re called), were once in a war, and after the Caelondians won, the two races worked for peace. However, the Mancers (a higher council in the city of Caelondia), didn’t like that there was even a chance of war, so they started working on The Calamity. I won’t spoil all of it for those who haven’t completed the game, but there’s a few surprises thrown in there. A very solid plot, and something that definitely moves the game along at a nice pace.
The four main characters are all very interesting. You really only hear The Stranger (real name Rucks) talk, as he narrates, but you hear about everyone through “dreams” your character has. While you don’t interact with them aside from hearing Rucks talk about them briefly while you’re at the Bastion, the dream sequences provide from backstory for each and ives you a picture of what they were like. In that sense, you do see the characters change and grow as the game progresses, especially once you hit the halfway point. I don’t want to spoil anything since it makes the dream sequences that much more satisfying, but they all have personalities despite not really interacting with them during the game itself.
Bastion’s music is fantastic. It’s atmosphere is fantastic. Everything involving these two things are fantastic. The enemies, the world, the history – it all blends together so well. All the little things about the game where Rucks tells you the history of every level before the Calamity struck is fascinating, and really immerses you into the world of Bastion, and the music just makes it better. It goes along with every stage almost perfectly, and it’s one of those I highly recommend you purchase and give a listen to even if you haven’t played the game.
There’s something to be said about, “choose your own difficulty” games. Most of them offer you really deep gameplay, and this is no exception. In Bastion, there comes a point where you find a shrine and can invoke various idols to change the difficulty. These idols range from enemies moving faster to them them becoming invisible for a short time, and the beauty of the system is you can mix and match any idols you want for a unique difficulty every time. And the more difficult the game becomes, the more experience and money you earn. It’s a satisfying system, especially since none of them (except maybe the one that causes enemies to reflect attacks) are ridiculously hard. Having all 10 idols on is definitely a challenge, however.
Now, let’s talk about weapons. You get to choose from a myriad of weapons, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, and the best part is they’re all balanced – you can use almost any combination and come out victorious, which I think is fantastic. You find the weapons as you go, showing you their strengths and weakness throughout the level. And to make sure you really see how good each weapon is, there are proving grounds for each weapons that grant you special skills for that particular weapon if you reach first prize.
And of course, the weapons can be upgraded. You can upgrade each weapon 5 times, and they’re all pretty ridiculous once they get maxed out. The BEST part about upgrading is there are two upgrades per level, and you have to choose one or the other (an example: more critical hit chance or more flat power), which makes you think about what kind of upgrades you want for the current level you’re going into.
There’s an in-game challenge system that gives you money for completing them, and that’s nice. Some of the challenges are difficult, and some you achieve as you progress. The small ones add up, though, and since the upgrades can get a little costly, it’s good money to have. Plus, it helps you master each and every weapon!
And the final part about the gameplay that I LOVE are the spirits. They’re drinks that, when consumed, grant you abilities (such as more health, life steal, etc…). Some of them grant you huge bonuses while also giving you a bad side effect, and the versatility of them allows you to mix and match spirits (you can only have so many equipped at one time) with your weapons, giving you a really unique way of fighting.
All of these things comes together to create a truly deep combat experience. I enjoyed every second of it!
If you’re looking for a game that offers you deep gameplay alongside great atmosphere, get Bastion. Get it right now since it’s only $15, which is a steal considering how great this game is. You won’t be disappointed!
Final Score: 9/10
Oh, and the DLC for the game (a new mode and a new dream sequence) is completely free.