grumbel's Bastion (PC) review

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  • grumbel has written a total of 86 reviews. The last one was for The Swapper

Highly Polished, but lacking in substance

Bastion is an isometric 2D action game, unlike similar games, Bastion doesn't use a dual-stick shooter setup, but instead uses auto-aiming and only a single stick. The rest of the controls are a button for a secondary attack, a button for a special attack, one for blocking, one for dodge rolling and one for healing. Weapons, both melee and ranged, are gathered over the course of the game and can be freely equipped.

The story of Bastion is for most part told via a narrator that constantly comments on your actions. It's well done in the sense that it doesn't repeat itself like some sports games used to do, but in terms of story telling I found it does more harm then good, as it forces a level of indirection into the dialog with other characters that distances you from the world. It also leads to one of the most awkward dialog systems I have ever seen in gaming.

Graphically the game is quite pretty, with a whole bunch of colorful tiles that come floating in as you walk your way. The backgrounds are however less impressive, they are drawn with a high level of contrast that not only makes them a little distracting, it also removes any feeling of distance, so it doesn't look like you are traveling through a city in the sky, but a city that is floating over a wallpaper. Another problem is that the levels in the game are very small in scale, so you will see loading screens quite regularly when going from one level to the next. The levels themselves are connected via a simple worldmap, so you end up just jumping from one level to the next, with no free roaming exploration. Animations are also an issue in the game, especially for the NPC characters, they are all essentially just presented by a single static single frame which makes them feel extremely lifeless and also the in-game graphics don't match with the graphics in the cutscenes all to well.

Overall Bastion isn't a bad game, the production values are high and it plays smoothly, but I never got invested into the world or its fiction, it was just about routinely going from area to area, doing what the game told me. There was never a clear sense of progression or change and there weren't any puzzles or ways to interact with the world that actually made you stop and care. On the default difficulty I also found the game to be quite easy, as I didn't die  once in my play through, which made me skip all the side activities the game offers to level up. The whole gimmick of having the world float in tile by tile, was also pretty meaningless, as it doesn't really have any impact on the story or gameplay, it's just something you get used to. For all the polish this game has, it simply feels like it is lacking in substance. If I had to compare this game to others, I'd say it's probably closest to a 2D Zelda, except without all the interesting items, the puzzles, the exploration, the dungeons, the overworld and characters.

The game took me 3:40h to beat.

2 Comments
Posted by MordeaniisChaos

Did you ever talk to the people in town about the things you found? Mementos I think they called them in the game. There was a lot of backstory there, and in the weapon challenges, and in the dream sequences. The "gimmick" of the tiles floating in isn't supposed to have substance, it's a part of a bigger package. Sort of like saying that one little feature of an engine like CryEngine 3 doesn't make it super impressive when it's all the parts together that do.

Also, not having dual joystick controls, what?

Also also, the game has a dialogue system, what?

Posted by Grumbel
@MordeaniisChaos said:

Did you ever talk to the people in town about the things you found? Mementos I think they called them in the game. There was a lot of backstory there, and in the weapon challenges, and in the dream sequences.

Yes, but that really didn't provide much information either. I didn't do any of the site activities as the game never gave me a reason to bother with them.

 The "gimmick" of the tiles floating in isn't supposed to have substance, it's a part of a bigger package.

The thing is that they are meaningless for both story and gameplay. If a game has such an "in your face" gimmick, I'd expect it to matter at least in some way, not simply be graphical fluff.

Also, not having dual joystick controls, what?

That was just a bit of information, not a critique.

Also also, the game has a dialogue system, what?

The menu you get when you interact with other people, it's not a dialog system, but it takes the place of one. That's what makes it so awkward. In general I found the NPCs to be lifeless and boring, in large part caused by the indirect dialog through the narrator and their simplistic representation as mostly static images.

Other reviews for Bastion (PC)

    Fantastic development make this one of the best RPGs of the year. 0

    BASTION - Video ReviewBastion is exclusively a downloadable game which was first released as an Xbox Arcade title and then made the transition to the PC a short time later. Bastion’s style is second to none through its beauty and amazing sound track. Bastion can also be seen grabbing inspirations from old classics like “The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past” and other games of the middle to late 90’s era. Fantastic gameplay and a deeper (yet extremely simply) RPG experience than Zelda has ever...

    6 out of 6 found this review helpful.

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