altered_confusion's Bastion (Xbox 360 Games Store) review

Bastion Review

I got to see this very game at PAX East this year and immediately though, now that's something I haven't seen, and I want to play it. Well the time has finally come for this game to join the ranks of the XBOX 360's Summer of Arcade. In this game you will be playing the part of a kid who wakes up to find that everything he knows is now in ruins. He'll have to search what he calls home for some answers, and when he finally just starts finding things out its off to the real adventure. Soon you'll find that you'll have to search different locations around the area for shards to help rebuild the Bastion, a floating island of sorts that has many secrets for those ready to unlock them.

The thing that first drew me to this game was the art style, and throughout the game it did not disappoint. The use of colors just seemed to draw me into the game. There were so many different areas to see, even though the basic building blocks were the same, each area had its own twist on them and created unique environments that literally built themselves before your eyes. That exact mechanic, the world building as you neared a place in which the world should build itself was something that I just couldn't get enough of. It also helped me find some of the hidden secrets in the game.

The music at times has this kind of frontier western feel to it, which I have to say makes me a bit hesitant at first, but after a while it fit this game. The biggest piece to this game, though was not the music but the narration. I will fully admit there are games out there with narrators that I want nothing more than finding an option to mute them so that I can actually experience the game without them breathing down my neck. This game's narration, however was something completely different for me, I couldn't get enough of it. Maybe it was the tone of the voice, or the style of the dialog, but I really couldn't get enough of it.

The controls at first I didn't really have an issue with, and to be honest my issue with the controls actually had to do with a game mechanic more than the actual controls. When your character stumbles upon a new weapon it automatically switches out one of your currently equipped weapons. You only get two and they are mapped to the X and B button. Moving around in the game and learning the controls didn't take a long so I think the controls will not be a barrier to those wanting to play the game.

Now for the best part, let's talk story. So there was this huge event which everyone calls the Calamity, it destroyed, almost completely, a civilization. The problem is that something went wrong and it didn't only knock out them but it blew up a lot more than expected. As stated before you're just an innocent kid who gets thrusted into this and it is now up to you to try to help right the wrongs. You'll meet some survivors along the way that will help and hinder you to reach your goal. You'll also get to come into contact with a pretty impressive arsenal of weapons. You'll be able to attack with a hammer, a spear, a sword, a shotgun, dueling pistols, a soldier's rifle, a mortar, bazooka, and a crossbow-esque gun. You'll also have a leveling up mechanic that upon leveling up you can add another "spirit" to give your character some extra help. The really awesome part of that is that if you choose something that increase your health, but it turns out that you don't need that any more after a couple of levels you can always reshuffle what you have selected and fine tune your character to the given situation. There's also the fact that you can upgrade your weapons however you see fit, though if you change your mind about an upgrade, I'm pretty sure you're stuck with your first choice.

Now lets talk about a couple of issues in the game, and the reason why I can get so specific with them is that the game was so solid that those small imperfections just stood out and were easy to spot. So there's the weapon issue, you've hand picked exactly what you're going to use for an area, for me I always had my melee weapon on the X and the ranged on the B. Well if you found a weapon in the area it automatically gets mapped to X and you're stuck with it until you can find an arsenal (an in level location to swap weapons). So I had several times where I was stuck with two ranged weapons that took a while to shoot and I'm dealing with fast attacking birds. There's also the aiming of said ranged weapons when you're not attacking an enemy, but you want to take out some rocks or a statue, trying to line up that shot always took 8 or more times to accomplish which really took away from the game. Finally there's a couple moments in the game where you're actually faced with some pretty serious situations that you have to choose between, but it almost feels like these were last moment additions and it didn't seem to fit with the rest of the gameplay.

Look this game may only be on the XBOX 360 Arcade, but this is a game that if you have the system you need to get. I enjoyed this game from start to finish, and I was really saddened when I finished the game because I wanted more. There is a New Game Plus option on the game so that I can go back and seriously kick some more ass with every weapon where I left it. To be honest I'm now really excited to see what this company comes out with next and if it will be on the level of Bastion. For those who need the score to make your final decision I present you with this. I give this game a 9.7 out of 10.

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