majormitch's Bastion (Xbox 360 Games Store) review

Here's a kid whose whole world got twisted

Bastion immediately caught my eye when I first saw it. It has that old school swagger, that certain joie de vivre that makes it instantly appealing, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a solid game to be found here as well. Bastion takes some great combat, excellent customization options, and spectacular audio and visuals, and glues it all together with an infectious energy to create a fresh experience you’d be remiss to discount.

It would be reductive to call Bastion an action RPG and leave it at that, although it certainly has plenty of traditional action and RPG elements, such as some frantic combat and hoards of different weapons and upgrades to fiddle with. Combat has a sharp technical nature to it, one that rewards raw skill more than anything else- mostly thanks to the tight controls. There’s also tons of variety, from the environments and enemies to the weapons you’re able to bring to bear. Every foe you encounter acts differently, and each weapon has its own unique functionality that requires a certain level of finesse to master. They also have that kick to them that makes them exciting to use, which goes a long way towards making the combat as thrilling as it is. Throw in equipable tonics, special skills, and difficulty modifiers that you can adjust on the fly, and the options here are astounding. You really can tailor things to suit your own personal style, and it’s all introduced in a smart, timely manner that makes it feel as if there’s always something new right around the corner.

Yet past all of the nuts and bolts that make Bastion’s gameplay so fun, there’s a real genuine heart to the entire thing that’s incredibly refreshing. It all starts with the audio and visuals, which are both as dynamic as they are colorful in creating a strong atmosphere. The soundtrack here is one of the best I’ve heard in quite some time, and the much lauded narration is just fantastic. Environments are teeming with life, and character designs are expressive in their simplicity. The clever writing does a lot to give them additional depth, as well as advance the subtle, but interesting plot. Bastion definitely has a story to tell, and one containing some powerful moments, but it doesn’t jam it down your throat either- it stands at the periphery, wisely letting the gameplay and atmosphere take center stage. Really though, it’s the spunk of the entire package that has me so enamored with it. Bastion is a game that clearly set out to be a game in the best of ways, and it’s just so friggin pumped about it all from start to finish. It has an energy to it that’s all too rare, and is that much more memorable for it.

That’s really the thing that makes Bastion so special. I could go on about the explosive combat, the intricate customization options, and the spellbinding audio and visuals, or even how all those pieces come together beautifully to create a completely unique experience. But more than anything, it’s the game’s unrelenting enthusiasm that makes it so endearing. It’s got old school personality dressed in new school design, and the result is something that sparks the imagination in a way that games rarely do. I ♥ Bastion, and it’s likely you will too.

For additional information on my review style and scoring system, click here.

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