Bastion

Bastion Review for Xbox 360

On: Xbox 360PC

Action role-playing game from independent development studio Supergiant Games.

Review Verdict Read Review
9Out of 10
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Bastion screenshot
Bastion screenshot

If for whatever reason you grow tired of collecting Cores and advancing the story, you could choose to visit the Proving Grounds, where you can take on weapon-specific challenges at your leisure. The Cael Hammer challenge, for example, asks you to smash 100 objects in the fastest time possible, while for the Breakers Bow you're required to eliminate a set number of targets with as few arrows as possible. Getting first place in each challenge offers a new skill for that weapon as a reward.

In addition to this there are three 'Who Knows Where' challenges to complete, which pit The Kid against increasingly difficult waves of enemy as the narrator fleshes out the backgrounds of key characters in the story. Each challenge comes with its own leaderboards, so you can compare scores with friends. In order to beat said chums, you'll want to make things as difficult for yourself as possible.

At the Bastion's shrine you can invoke the wrath of the gods which – depending on which god you choose – gives your enemies certain advantages. You can make them quicker and stronger, give them regenerative powers and ensure they don't drop any health potions. On the flip side, you'll earn more XP and money. It's swings and roundabouts: The more gods you invoke, the higher the leaderboards you'll climb.

The sound design needs some words dedicated to it before we go any further, as it's fantastic from start to finish. While the instrumental themes have an almost Wild Western twang to them – similar to the score of Firefly, I found – later on in the game this is swapped out for actual songs, with lyrics contributing to the story as a whole. As with Braid, the soundtrack goes a long way in defining the tone and atmosphere of the game.

Comparisons to Jonathan Blow's indie sensation don't end there. As with Tim's time-travelling jaunts and all that nonsense about the atomic bomb, there's a deeper meaning to everything in Bastion. Once the credits roll, you'll flock to the internet, desperate to discover what others made of it. It's not quite as open to interpretation as Braid, but you'll enjoy the conversations it inspires nonetheless.

I'm currently working my way through a second playthrough, hoping to gleam a deeper meaning from the script, and there's a lot to pick up on the second time around. With the main game finished there's the option to start a New Game +, which transfers your XP, skills and upgrades from your first save. There's just under six hours worth of content in a single playthrough, more if you spend time satisfying the requirements of Vigils (achievements, of sorts), which can be tracked through the Memorial in the Bastion.

Bastion is the perfect game to kick off Microsoft's Summer of Arcade, capturing that certain something that Limbo and Braid had in previous years. For 1200 Microsoft Points you'll be rewarded with an experience just as memorable as any retail release this year. It's kind of upsetting returning to the real world after adventuring in Caelondia; without that velvety voice narrating what you're doing, giving purpose to your actions, life isn't quite so entertaining.

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User Comments

Endless's Avatar

Endless

I'm really enjoying Bastion so far. Reminds me of Legend of Mana/Seiken Densetsu 3 quite a bit. Nothing too fancy gameplay wise, though there's something immensely satisfying about counter-blocking, but enough to keep the action interesting, but oodles and oodles of flavour and charm. The narrator is often a comic genius and its certainly more refreshing than having to stop every 2 minutes to read a wall of text to flesh out the plot.

How far do you get to go in the Demo? I'd wager not nearly far enough. I played for quite a few hours last night and I still dont have all the depth of progression unlocked. The weapon upgrade/customisation impressed me quite a bit, finally a truly meaningful choice between upgrading each weapon and each weapon so far having it's clear strengths and weaknesses that suit different situations. The memorial is excellent too though it could do with more things to unlock.

The weapon trials are a really excellent addition too. A mini-game for every weapon that yields a 1st, 2nd and 3rd place prize depending on how you perform. The 1st place prize usually being a special ability for that weapon.

So far I probably wouldn't say 9, but I've a ways to go yet. Definitely an 8 though and much more game than 800msp gets you elsewhere on the marketplace.
Posted 12:58 on 21 July 2011
InvalidUser's Avatar

InvalidUser@ FantasyMeister

I have been kind to Bastion, I could really pick black holes in the game, in terms of mechanics and technical problems.

I was lucky to snag a free code on Monday. Although I think it's a pretty average button masher personally, the main reason I had no fun. The "voice" could have redeemed matters with "Kid is spamming the hammer again" and poked fun at the games shortcomings.

I fully understand others like Jamin may enjoy this genre more, as for Gaston he would be a bore without his personal faves choosing to sit on the fence. This is why I come here.

The game is beautiful and if you are ok with spamming buttons you will love it and score it high, I cannot see any Braid or Limbo comparison. I have read elsewhere on the net "12 things games can learn from Bastion" "Bastion beasts Mario" which is pure crazy talk. You should pick it up 800 space bucks is the right price.

Me I will go for the classic Tom Orry box quote "It's Alright".
Posted 11:54 on 21 July 2011
FantasyMeister's Avatar

FantasyMeister@ InvalidUser

Keep breaking your promise please, your opinions are refreshing and always well expressed.

I was the same with Braid, just didn't get it and felt like I was getting out of touch in my old age or something.

If it's any help as to why Jamin's review in particular carries so much weight with this site's users, before he was employed by VG.com Jamin was one of us, a regular poster like you and I on various forums, and from experience his views about games are pretty much aligned with mine, which is why when he gives something praise those who know him sit up and take notice.

For all I know I'll hate Bastion too if I get around to picking it up, nobody can be right all the time :)
Posted 02:34 on 21 July 2011
InvalidUser's Avatar

InvalidUser

The planks in this game make LA Noire's look like a Tom Daley cakewalk.

The virtues of Gaston.

Each to their own, seems other gamers and the "industry" are right behind the game I had little to no fun with Bastion, a poorly executed game.

Still I think Portal 2 should lead the SOA, another game I think hardly quantifies it's treasure.

I am a idiot this is my best guess. I must also stop breaking my promise.

/Mystic Meg mode off
Posted 22:15 on 20 July 2011
Wido's Avatar

Wido@ CheekyLee

With the amount of time I have played with Bastion. It already justifies the 9/10 score in my opinion. You have these proving grounds challenges, which require you to shoot targets, defeat enemies, under a certain time or few shots. I find these ever so enjoyable and addicting to do, because of the loot you gain if you win either one of the three prizes.

The sound is fantastic, and I love the narrator. I especially liked one bit when; "The Kid falls into the abyss below...." "Ha, only kidding." Something along them lines, but I chuckled.

Gameplay is fine and the switching between enemies is spot on and responsive. I like the idea of the distillery and the forge. Distillery giving you bonus points in all ares such as health, defending, speed and etc. The forge to improve weapons (self explanatory what the forge does), and the feel of the game is top notch so far. Heck, this game may even be a 10/10 when I finished my second playthrough via the new game+ mode which I call it; Bastion's very own Master Quest.
Posted 20:17 on 20 July 2011
CheekyLee's Avatar

CheekyLee

I have to say, going from the demo alone this is a game that REALLY needs to shake it up somewhat to justify that 9. So far, I get the distinct impression that it is style over substance. And, frankly, I'm not about to drop 1200 MS points to find out if my instinct is wrong. At 800, I probably wouldn't even have paused.
Posted 19:33 on 20 July 2011
InvalidUser's Avatar

InvalidUser@ CheekyLee

I will resist further commentary you are right this is not my place, amongst higher intelligentsia, you comment board bully.

LMAO.
Posted 14:10 on 20 July 2011
InvalidUser's Avatar

InvalidUser

UNLEASH THE FANBOYS!!!!

Bastion is a solid but average game, it has garnered a lot of attention amongst people with a passion for this hobby. I really don't need attention and my comment is solely another point of view on the game. I appreciate Jamin's review and what he likes and yes I am very near the end of the game.

Striking that yesterday the much vaunted game+, a rival to autolog in most overstated got mentioned, doubts much?

Personally I have no compelling reason to revisit Bastion after I finish the game.

As for the narrator, would you sit on your daily commute with an imaginary friend reminding you that you are the "kid" constantly and providing a running commentary on your latest ipod track selection? If the answer is yes, Bastion will be fine, Clint Eastwood he is not.

Like Limbo, Bastion relies on l33t photoshop skills and a strong show in one other area in Bastion's case the audio, in Limbo's case the physics.

The rest is average to slightly above average, which is very enjoyable for a short time with little incentive to revisit.

@MrGloomy are you a mister really? do we have marriage in playschool now?
Posted 14:09 on 20 July 2011
CheekyLee's Avatar

CheekyLee@ FantasyMeister

See, this is something of a bugbear with me as well. Assuming that a game loads the entire playable level into the console memory, why is it that some games make you do this AGAIN if you die? (It's probably something to do with NPC scripting, and the need to replace them at the exact startpoints again, resetting flags and triggers, and other stuff that is boring even ME as I write about it.)
Posted 13:16 on 20 July 2011
FantasyMeister's Avatar

FantasyMeister

Counterpoint is always appreciated, I'm a big RPG fan but loading screens don't really phase me, if it's a good game I use them to take a quick breath before diving back in.

Having said that I've always wondered how Trials HD lets you restart instantly, would like to see the same technique used as much as possible elsewhere.
Posted 12:58 on 20 July 2011
MrGloomy's Avatar

MrGloomy

"...nothing innovative or new whatsoever"

Neither is a negative comment post, just for the sake of it. I haven't played it yet (is it out yet?!?) and I'm not one to defend something I know nothing about but the comments seem negative and loathing just for the sake of getting attention. Well done, attention received. Achievement Unlocked! Negativity always brings results. Allow me to reach out a virtual arm and pat you on the back! Obviously this thread was sounding way to optimistic and positive. 3.5/10 for your jolly attitude towards comment threads. I like freedom of speech, I really do, I’m going off on one now, I always find it a bit weird when people find it necessary to go to a games news and reviews website...to leave there own reviews, but as a negative call for attention. Awesome-source and kudos, my man. Rock on people, rock on.
Posted 12:32 on 20 July 2011
Jamin's Avatar

Jamin

It's a fair comment. Loading screens are quite frequent. Not enough to detract from the quality of the game, though. Surprises me that you think narration gets 'mildly tiresome' - it's integral to the whole experience. And fairly innovative, I'd venture.

Have you completed it yet, InvalidUser? The game really starts to come into its own by the end - far easier to appreciate. Things like loading screens really don't matter in the grand scheme of things.
Posted 12:10 on 20 July 2011
CheekyLee's Avatar

CheekyLee@ InvalidUser

I find your complaints to be generic, predictable, and lacking in the heights that I have come to expect after your previous endeavours. 5/10 (aka GIVE US ANOTHER SONG!)

Still, I do appreciate all your effort, especially as your very first post started with :

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bert
I have no wish to join the community, reading the posts of others is adequate enough for me to garner opinion and judgement.

Don't take this for an attack. I wish you would join in more, as I have always been entertained by your posts. (Until this time!)
Posted 11:48 on 20 July 2011
InvalidUser's Avatar

InvalidUser

Too many loading screens break immersion, much heralded combat been done before, narration gets mildly tiresome, otherwise stellar artwork and soundtrack. A competent game, but nothing innovative or new whatsoever 6.5/10
Posted 11:38 on 20 July 2011
pblive's Avatar

pblive

Great review Jamin. I'm not that big on RPG style games, but based on your review alone I'm tempted to drop 1200 points on this.
Posted 10:41 on 20 July 2011

Game Stats

Technical Specs
Bastion
9
Out of 10
Bastion
  • Audio is fantastic throughout
  • Captivating story
  • Dynamic narration is incredibly satisfying
  • Perhaps a little obscure for some
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 20/07/2011
Platforms: Xbox 360 , PC
Developer: Supermassive Games
Publisher: Warner Bros.
Genre: RPG
Rating: PEGI 12+
Site Rank: 333
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