ttocs's Bastion (Xbox 360 Games Store) review

Bastion combines action, RPG, and a great artstyle to make magic

Bastion cover art

Bastion is an action RPG that is currently part of the summer of arcade for Xbox 360's online arcade (XBLA). The game takes place on a mysterious planet/plane of existence/place that recently went through something called "The Calamity." As the initial sole survivor, you story is told through a narrator who almost seems to know what you are going to do before you do it. More on this later. The game plays like a standard action RPG where you get weapons, upgrades, and kill enemies to gain items. Where it differentiates is how you must use these weapons, strategically upgrade them, and navigate the maze of the world while it's seemingly falling apart underneath you. After putting a solid 8 or so hours into the game, I can honestly say that the developers did one hell of a job and packed a whole lot of game into this $15 purchase.

If you have played any other action RPG in the history of gaming, you'll know what you need to do seconds after starting the game. You have two weapons and a special skill each mapped to a specific button on the controller. You break objects and kill enemies all on your way to finding the levels crystal that is related to the story. Along the way you'll meet a wide array of enemies with special attacks of their own. You'll need to learn their movements and strategies to take them down.

After collecting the first crystal from the first world, you are introduced to Bastion. Bastion is the home base of the game and after each crystal you collect, you can build a structure. The structures range from places that allow you to upgrade weapons, your character, switch weapons, make the game harder/more lucrative in terms of exp, and other such things. When you unlock everything, you can then go find crystals to upgrade these buildings, all of which falling into the confines of the story.

Speaking of the story, it's a good one. The narrator talks over the action and tells a story depending on what you do. It's great fun and at times can be comical, like the time I fell off the world twice in a row only to be told "The kid falls to his death...again..." You will always know where you need to go and the game won't try to hide anything from you in terms of puzzles or other such devices. This is as strict an action RPG as they come.

As you progress in the story and meet new characters, you'll see some of the extra devices put in by the developers to both extend gameplay and allow you to become better at the game. Each weapon you find in the game can be upgraded from the force in your Bastion, but each weapon also has a skill world where you can train to beat a set score or time to receive items. These are uniquely tailored for your weapon so there is one world like this for every weapon. A great addition that is really fun to play and obsess over. Some are really tough too. You will also find items in the worlds that unlock horde mode type gameplay where you have to survive round after round of enemies while the narrator explains the story in a much more profound way, almost in a haunting way.

With all the game packed into Bastion, it's crazy that it's only $15. I've paid much more for a whole hell of a lot less in the past. If you own an Xbox 360 with an internet connection, like action games or RPG games, and enjoy different game styles than you may be used to, you must try Bastion. It's my downloadable game of the year by far and is one of my favorites of all time on the Xbox Live Arcade.

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