chainsofatlas's Bastion (Xbox 360 Games Store) review

Supergiant games show off what they can do with Bastion

The summer months are never the most exciting time for video games. Big titles are usually moved out of summer to looking for bigger sales around Christmas present buying season. This void of big budget titles has brought about the emergence of the Summer of Arcade, introduced by Microsoft for its Xbox 360 system, back in 2008. The concept of the summer of arcade is fairly simple. Fill the void of big titles with small innovative indie title for Xbox Live Arcade. Summer of arcade 2011 was kicked off this year by the debut title from Supergiant Games, Bastion.

In Bastion a disaster has befallen the world, called the Great Calamity. You awaken as “The Kid”, in the aftermath of the calamity and set out to reach the bastion, the last place of hope for you and your devastated civilisation. Right from the moment you wake up, you are followed by a companion of sorts, the disembodied voice of a man called “The Stranger”. The gravelly voiced narrator tells your story; as it happens, giving the game a fairy tale like feel, and with the ground forming up underneath your feet as you walk through the world, it only serves to reinforce the feeling of your story being told.

Borrowing its combat system from the old 2D Zelda games, Bastion allows you to dodge incoming attacks by rolling out of the way and blocking is even performed by a good old shield. Weapons come in two flavours ranged and melee, with special attacks that help you get out of sticky situations. Although nothing new, Bastion’s combat feels solid and responsive. The greatest achievement for a game’s combat system has to be that death is always the player fault, or put another way, death always results from a wrong turn by the player and never from poor controls or a dodgy camera.

When you eventually role, dodge, and fight your way through the first level of Bastion you will reach the Bastion. The Bastion acts as the central hub for the game, and where you will encounter all of the traditional action RPG tropes. The weapons that you will collect on your travels can be upgraded at the forge, tonics can be drunk to give you powerful buffs at the distillery, and at the shrine you can evoke the gods to make the game more challenging, while giving you rewards for doing so. All of these mechanics in Bastion are what give it replay ability. Now on my second play though I am upgrading and using all the weapons I never had a chance to use the first time round. All of the weapons have a distinct feel about them, and work in different ways, which gives it a great sense of experimentation.

Aesthetically Bastion is wonderful. The multi-coloured broken world feels like a mix between a stained glass window and a water colour painting. The issue I have with the aesthetic is that it doesn’t really match the sombre tone of the story. While “The Stranger” despairingly spins a tale about the world that was, the land that rises up in front of you is full of colour and life. The bridge between the aesthetics and the story however is the music. A mix between the down trodden tones of “The Stranger”, and the life of the world around you, it is a delight. Taking any single part of the presentation on its own would be an injustice to the game. It only truly comes together as a sum of its parts.

Bastion is a true summer game. Priced around £10 and clocking in at a respectable 6-7 hours, it will allow you to get your gaming fix while not stealing you away from the summer sun that we wait for all year.


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