"A proper story's supposed to start at the beginning. It ain't so simple with this one."
"The world got all twisted," continues the voice, "leaving him stranded on a rock in the sky." The narration reflects what's happening on the screen: a white-haired boy lies on a piece of debris, surrounded by the nothingness of space. Not much happens; The Kid appears to be unconscious. Eventually, you push forward on the right-analogue stick, and "he gets up, sets off for the Bastion, where everyone agreed to go in case of trouble".
For the duration of Bastion, the rich, full-bodied voice of the narrator depicts your every move. He reacts dynamically to everything that happens in the game - your choices of weapons, your combat techniques, your successes, your failures - detailing your exploits to a mysterious third party. It gives a fantastic sense of finality to your actions; this is how the game is meant to be played, this is how the story goes.
While The Kid is often left in the dark with regards to narrative, the voice knows exactly what's going on. It's the end of the world: the Calamity has destroyed everything, we're told. The once prosperous city of Caelondia has been torn asunder. The Kid's off to fix all that, though.
As The Kid takes his first steps into the unknown, the ground rises up from the abyss below, neatly falling into place beneath his feet. Whether this has some deeper meaning or is simply a nice visual touch I've yet to deduce – but there seems to be meaning behind most things in Bastion. The game plays out from an isometric view-point, brought to life with beautiful hand-drawn environments and water-coloured hues. At the same time, though, it's a scene of destruction and depravity – a hard balance to strike.
Anyway, The Kid eventually reaches the Bastion, a haven for the doomed denizens of Caelondia - not that any of them made it. This has been tainted by the Calamity too, however, and it's The Kid's job to set things right. By venturing off into the city and recovering lost 'Cores', the Bastion can be restored to its former glory. While the plots of land you can build upon are predetermined, you can decide which buildings and services you wish to restore first.
The armoury is a good place to start. By the end of the game, The Kid will have access to eleven weapons, each of which can be upgraded through five levels. In the armoury you can customise your loadouts and 'secret skills', while the Forge lets you use resources collected from the City to upgrade your weapons. If you rebuild the Distillery, you can choose from a variety of tonics to equip, each of which activate passive bonuses such as +10 health, or 100 per cent critical-hit rate when on low health. By rebuilding the Bastion, you're essentially making The Kid a stronger battle combatant. Every building has its benefits.
In terms of its core mechanics, Bastion plays out like most action RPGs. You kill enemies, earn XP for the pleasure of doing so, and every now and then you'll level up (which opens up more tonic slots in the Distillery). Combat is a two-weapon affair, and while you're free to choose from your whole arsenal, it's usually a good idea to have one melee weapon and one ranged. While the Cael Hammer offers raw power, many will prefer the speed of the War Machete, or range of the Brushers Pike. As well as a bow and arrow, The Kid can wield all manner of firearms: the Scrap Musket, Fang Repeater and Duelling Pistols.