The Green Dude Reviewed a Great Game
I'll be honest, I had high expectations for Bastion. I followed the game via Giantbomb's "Building The Bastion" series, and was truly thrilled to play this game made by such a small development team. Even more interesting was one of the developers is Greg Kasavin, a former Gamespot reviewer. Not many reviewers actually create games, so i would expect when they do, they would know what makes up a good game. I thought the game looked great, and the art style is beautiful, and hard to believe one person created it all. So, did Bastion live up to my expectations? For the most part.
Bastion is an action role playing game. The game's camera angle is similar to that of Diablo. Unlike Diablo, and other loot filled games, Bastion is not focused around loot. Instead, it is focused on combat and weapons. There are a handful of weapons, however i don't want to give any surprises away. You upgrade these weapons using specific items as well as little crystal things (sorry i don't know what they are called) that you collect from killing enemies. The upgrade system for weapons works very well, and I felt as if I could truly customize each to my play style. Each person who plays will most likely discover a certain weapon that feels good to them, each having their own benefits. On top of upgrading weapons, you can upgrade your character, The Kid, by leveling up (killing enemies) and adding special drinks to slots located in the distillery. As i did with the weapons, I felt i could truly create the style character i wanted to play. This is nothing like Diablo, but it works VERY well and was a highlight of the game for me.
In order to actually upgrade your character, you have to level up, which is achieved through fighting enemies and progressing throughout the game. The level cap in Bastion is 10, and don't expect to reach it in your first playthrough. The combat system works very well, which actually really surprised me. As previously stated, each weapon has benefits against different enemies. I found two that seemed to work very well overall and stuck to them, and developed my own strategy of play. There is a great counter system, where you will block right before getting hit with your shield and inflict damage on the attacker. Upgrading weapons keeps the combat feeling fresh as you progress.
Instead of having a set difficulty system, you can invoke the gods by making enemies more powerful in different ways. You can think of this as "skulls" from Halo. Unlike skulls, there are great benefits to invoking the gods. For each god that is invoked, you can an increase in currency and experience gained. This will allow you to upgrade your weapons faster and level up faster. This is a very good idea, and the logic behind it is great. Most games you go into choosing a difficulty before playing, but in this game, you play and then can adjust your difficulty in a various amount of ways.
Upgrading weapons and your character isn't the only focus in Bastion. A huge focus is the narrator in the game, which narrates pretty much every action you do. He also tells the story. The narrator's voice sounds great and set the tone of the game, however, there is one major problem, in my personal opinion, about this. After my first play through, i was very confused about exactly what was going on and why things were happening in the story. (I'm not going to talk about the story at all in this review). After beating my second play through, I'm pretty sure i understand it fully but i still have a couple of questions. You may think i didn't pay attention, but i tried my best to. When focused in on the combat, the narrator may say something and I'm a little preoccupied killing enemies to understand any important things the narrator is telling me. At times, i felt like i was being told a story rather than actually experiencing it. At first, i thought the narrator was a brilliant idea (before playing the game and getting far into it), but now i realize it was the biggest setback for me in this game. I'm not exactly sure how they could have changed it, but this is my only major complaint.
The soundtrack in Bastion is probably the best I've ever heard for a downloadable game. You know the music in a game is good whenever you're humming it when just sitting around, or looking it up on YouTube constantly, which i was doing.
Technically, the game is pretty good. The game looks great, i absolutely love the art style. There is a huge variety of colors, and the effects where the floor rises as you walk into it is very cool and looks nice, however i did sometimes find myself falling off the edge because in some places it looked like there was floor there, when there actually wasn't. Twice, i experienced a huge drop in frame rate and the game became very choppy, and I'm not exactly sure why, but i felt it was worth mentioning. Also, on my New Game+ play through i experienced a glitch where one of the enemies went to an area i couldn't access, and i had to wait for around 3-4 minutes for him to finally comeback to my area (i almost had to restart).
I know these complaints i have seems like i'm tearing the game up, but you need to know i loved this game. Very rarely do I ever play a game for hours and hours, looking at the clock to see how fast time went by. Bastion is also probably one of my favorite Xbox Live Arcade Games. I beat the game and new game+ in approximately 19 hours (this may seem like a long time, but if you play this, make sure you don't waste your time on challenges without upgraded weapons!). The New game+ took me around 4 hours, and i could see an average user (that doesn't waste time and repeat stuff) beating this game in around 6-8 hours. At the end of the day, I highly recommend this game and it was a great experience, despite the few flaws that i found with it.