natetodamax's Bastion (Xbox 360 Games Store) review

Supergiant Games delivers with this beautiful downloadable title

Bastion successfully shatters whatever expectations you may have for a download-only game. It's driven by a fantastical story delivered by a clever narrator (voiced by Logan Cunningham) who not only responds to your actions, but also fills in the universe with details that are vague enough to give you a pretty good idea of what happened to the world while managing to not swamp you in overbearing details. The fluid and dynamic combat system goes hand-in-hand with the game's storytelling in a remarkable way. If there was ever a doubt you had about Bastion, remove it. You should play this game.

The Kid must bring life to the Bastion

Set in a world destroyed by an event called the Calamity, you play as a boy who is only referred to as the Kid and nothing else. The game quickly introduces you to the narrator, who not only serves as a storytelling device but also as a character in the game world. Not wanting to slam paragraphs of text in your face, the game almost immediately sets you out to restore the Bastion, instead choosing to fill in details of the world as you explore it yourself. The narrator is an absolute joy to listen to. When he responds to your actions, he does so in a clever way that fits in chronologically with the storytelling; he doesn't just make random offhand comments about every little thing you do.

Restoring the Bastion is important because it serves as a waypoint for survivors of the Calamity. As you progress through the game, you'll acquire cores that let you construct buildings in the Bastion that serve different purposes. It's a compelling goal given the fact that the Bastion gradually starts becoming a beautiful place because of your efforts while everything around it in the world is torn by war and destruction. The buildings you make will allow you to do a variety of things, like change your weapons and apply upgrades to them. There's a building that let's you buy materials for upgrading, as well as a Distillery which gives you access to Spirits, which are passive abilities that act like perks.

Each weapon has an optional challenge level that will test your ability to use it well

The Bastion serves as a hub world in the game from which you'll fly to different locations and do battle against hostiles. There's a lot of enemy variety, from Scumbags, Squirts, the brilliantly named Anklegators, Pincushions, and more. Some enemies are faster than others, some are more deadly, some are only a threat in groups, and some prefer to hang back and attack from a distance. The different enemies types give you an incentive to experiment with the weapons in Bastion, of which there is about a dozen. There's a healthy variety of ranged weapons and melee weapons available, and the ability to quickly roll out of the way allows you to easily evade most attacks and get behind your opponents. You even have access to a shield that lets you counter attacks, which harms the assailant. It's surprisingly deep. While the core combat doesn't evolve too much throughout the game, the weapons do feel very different and you'll likely find yourself swapping them out for different ones many times as you start to face different foes. It's a fun game to play that moves fast, and seeing how your weapons feel after applying new upgrades is always exciting. For people seeking a challenge, the Shrine building lets players "invoke the gods" by turning on different Idols that will ramp up the difficulty in certain ways, similar to Halo's skulls.

You'd likely have a hard time finding an Arcade game that looks as stunning as Bastion does. The entire world is gorgeously handcrafted; each location has its own theme and unique aesthetic. The music is equally as impressive, so much so that it's hard to believe a soundtrack hasn't been announced yet. I would buy it in an instant.

It will probably take you about 7 hours to finish Bastion on your first playthrough. A New Game Plus is available that lets you carry weapons and XP over, and it even lets you construct any of the buildings you want right from the start. Three different arenas can be played through with whatever Idols you want. You may be surprised to learn that the narrator actually uses these arenas to fill in more details about the world and its characters, so I highly recommend playing through them.

The 7 or so hours that Bastion lasts are unforgettable. It accomplishes so much in so many great ways that it would be impossible not to recommend it.

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