Bastion (PC, XBox, PS4)

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Introduction

 The city of Caelondia has just been rocked by a catastrophe of calamitous proportions — a Calamity, one might say. The Kid has apparently slept through it all and wakes on the other side — End of the world NBD, just napping. The city of Caelondia has an, apparently, paranoid enough culture to justify the construction of some sort of indestructible bunker known as the Bastion. The Kid’s got to get to the Bastion and fix it up to get it to do whatever mojo it does. The whole while he’s guided by this smooth talking, raspy voiced, narrator.

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Behold the Bastion. From left to right we have the armory, forge, distillery, monument, shrine, and the Lost-And-Found. At the center of it all we have the Monument. It’s a nice hub, I’ve got to say.

History

Bastion was developed by Supergiant games. The team was composed of seven people if you include the voice actor of the narrator. They had previously worked for Electronic Arts but wanted to work on a smaller independent project in which they could do what they wanted. They privately funded the game and things were done on the cheap but didn’t seem it — the narration and music was recorded in the music director’s closet after all.

Fun Fact: Supergiant wanted the character to have a map but they figured the way platforms rose into the air would serve as direction enough.

Other Fun Fact: The Narrator, voiced by Logan Cunningham, voiced three thousand lines of narration — whatever you do, there’s probably a line for it.

Bastion was released on July 20th, 2011. It’s competition was Call of Juarez: The Cartel (PS3, XBox 360), Limbo (PC), and Captain America: Super Soldier (On goddam everything. PS3, Wii, XBox 360, DS, and 3DS.)

Experiences

I can’t think of any other game that makes me feel more like I’m in a desperate battle. Between the occasional horde of enemies and how they surround The Kid I feel like the battle is bitter and hard fought. Most enemies don’t go down in one hit and much of the time The Kid is actually fighting retreat to get away from something. One fight with an Ankle Gator lasts for an entire stage as The Kid evades it until it begins to rain — the narrator muses, “An ankle gator can only be killed if it’s raining. And it ain’t raining.”

Gameplay

The Kid’s adventures take him scavenging in all parts of the world for pieces of the Bastion’s power core. He might walk a little slowly but he’s got a mean dodge roll that can actually damage enemies — just be careful, living in a world floating in the air is pretty dangerous. He can carry two weapons at a time and they’re generally split between melee and ranged. The game typically gives The Kid one weapon of each type but there’s no reason you can’t use two of the same if you like the playstyle enough. In addition to The Kids arsenal he’s also got access to some Secret Skills passed on by the Caelondians who have passed.

He’s not just an offensive powerhouse, he’s got a shield. If he brings up the shield as he’s being attacked he’ll shield bash dealing damage based on how much damage he would have taken. The shield also serves as The Kids lock on ability, he’ll automatically face the nearest opponent when he brings it up. Attacking brings the shield down so you can snap from blocking to attacking.

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A typical combat situation. The turrets on the ship have been charmed, you can tell by the dancing hearts above them  — functional and cute.

The Kid levels up by defeated enemies and completing challenges. Completing challenges also earns The Kid items and Secret Skills. Every level earns The Kid another Spirit –as in the alcohol– he can consume to give him cool powers. In addition, there are mementos and fragments scattered across the area. Mementos unlock dialogue and other useful things like pets at the Bastion. The Kid can spend fragments to purchase weapon upgrades and other things from the Lost and Found.

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You can tell a challenge area by the cages with items underneath. The goal of this challenge is to break all the stuff. Be quick!

The Gush

I really like the upgrade system in this game. Every weapon has five levels of upgrades. Each level has two mutually exclusive upgrade. Each column generally serves other upgrades in that column but it’s sometimes encourage to mix and match. You can also switch between each of those upgrades so if you don’t like them it’s just a matter of getting to an Armory.

This game looks gorgeous — but you’ve been able to see that from all the pics I’ve posted. The game is colorful and wondrous. Some things are even incredibly detailed in ways that the player wouldn’t necessarily notice.

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I mean, just… look at this. This is awesome.

I tip my hat to Logan Cunningham’s wonderful narration. His vocal stylings constantly make me feel awesome and emotionally involved. The Kid’s a silent protagonist but he’s really got the narrator to speak for him.

There are a few objects in the Bastion that will take The Kid to “Who Knows Where,” where he’ll fight waves of phantom enemies. Each wave of phantoms the kid defeats unlocks more narration about one of the survivors in the Bastion. Even thought the fights are tough I want to keep going to hear what happens next.

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Spoilers: There are other survivors.

If you’re looking for a little extra challenge then you can go to the Shrine and invoke an idol. Each Idol gives the enemies a new ability which makes them more powerful. The Kid gets more fragments and experience points for his time but it’s really just a little reward for wanting the game to be a little harder — even though I think some of the idols make the game absurdly harder (Seriously, who thought making the enemies incorporeal at random intervals was a good idea. [Then again, I just don’t invoke that idol]).

The Kvetch

This game has a new game plus option, to play through the game again. I appreciate it and I love this game but I don’t really see the reason to play through it twice. There’s no new weapons, no new skills, and no new story events. The narration’s a little different as the narrator experiences Deja Vu but it’s mostly similar.

The Verdict

Goodness gracious this game is on so many platforms because it’s so good. The gameplay and combat is simple but the different weapons and skills add that spice that keeps it all mechanically interesting until the end. I was also drawn in by the plot, the politics between Caelondia and the Native Ura, what the Calamity actually is, and who the Kid is. In short, it’s totally worth the $15 price tag.

Next Week: Transistor

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