31/31 Day 20: Bastion - The Darkest Link Blog - www.GameInformer.com
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31/31 Day 20: Bastion

"A proper story starts at the beginning."

Warning: This might come across as extreme rambling. Bastion is one of the best games I've ever played, the best indie game I've played, and one of the inspirations for this 31/31. Not only that, but Bastion was my first indie game I ever played. It was this game that made this 31/31 possible more than any of the other games. There will be minimal to no spoilers of the story, but I will go pretty in depth on the gameplay. Without further ado, here is Bastion.

In Bastion you play as The Kid, a survivor of The Calamity, an apocalyptic event that destroyed most of the known world. The Kid wakes up without a clue of what happened, stranded on a rock in the middle of the sky.(He does not have amnesia) The Kid heads to where everyone agreed that they would go if something bad happened: The Bastion. As The Kid heads toward the Bastion, parts of the old world zoom up towards his feet. This walkway allows The Kid to find his old friends: The Cael Hammer and the Bullhead Shield. With these equipped, The Kid is ready to make his way to the Bastion, while fighting remnants of the old world: Scumbags, Gasfellas, and Squirts.

The Kid makes it to the Bastion to find only one other person made it to the Bastion. his name is Rucks, and he has been narrating the story this whole time. Rucks instructs the Kid to put the shard he found while making his way to the Bastion into the monument, which restores some of the Bastion's powers. Rucks tells the Kid to find the rest of the shards to restore the Bastion back to how it should be.

Those introductory moments are what set up the story of Bastion. I won't go into the story and more, because if I do, I will spoil one of the best stories that I have ever experienced. Not only does it have plot twists you won't see coming, it has a fantastic and memorable finale. The characters that are in Bastion, while they are only narrated by Rucks, are well written and unpredictable. All four of the main characters aren't given much of a backstory during the main story, but if you want to learn more about the characters, you can go through dream sequences at the Bastion to learn who they are, and why. These levels are also a great challenge, as they are twenty waves of enemies with minimal health restoration opportunities. 

In terms of gameplay, Bastion is an isometric action RPG. You fight enemies during linear levels that allow for some exploration if you want to explore. You are allowed to use two weapons at any given time, with one special move you can use. All of the weapons are noticeably different. None of them are better versions of previous weapons, each weapon is a viable option through the entire game. I used Cael Hammer for almost all of the game. It's not at a disadvantage for being an early weapon, and it doesn't have an advantage for being the first weapon either. You choose weapons based on personnel preference, not whatever one has the highest rating. Bastion is good about making you try new weapons, as everytime you get a new weapon, it automatically equips it for you, so you can have a short testing ground to experiment with the different weapons.

The shards are located all over Caelondia, and the Kid gets each of them from different locations of what is left of Caelondia after the Calamity. All of the levels have ground raising up to meet the Kid, and it gives each level a sense of waking up. All of the environments are varied, from a dense jungle to a desolate city. There is never a sense of repeating environments, as each one is around long enough for you to enjoy and appreciate what the artists have done in each level. The levels are constantly challenging, especially early in the game.

It's so beautiful.

With each shard you collect you can build a structure at the Bastion. You can create an armory to swap out your weapons, a distillery where you can change your spirits, a forge to enhance your weapons, a shrine to pray to the gods(make the game harder), a memorial to earn fragments to pay for upgrades, and a lost and found to store all of the items you missed while playing through all of the levels. Once all of the structures have been constructed, you can level them up again to unlock even more of everything they offer.

Upgrading weapons in Bastion works well and makes sense. Each of the weapons have different options for leveling up, but you can change the power-up if you don't like what it does or want to try out the other option without any cost. This level up system should appear in more RPGs, as it's annoying to either just keep auto-leveling or accidentally choose a power-up you didn't want. Each upgrade requires one of a material found throughout Caelondia, and each material is specific to a weapon. You can get these materials all over Caelondia. They might be down an unlikely path or a reward for something called the Proving Grounds. The Proving Grounds are areas where you are only given one weapon and then must complete a challenge. You must prove excellence with the weapon, whether it be using as few shots as possible with a ranged weapon, taking as few hits with the shield, or taking out all of the enemies with a knife, they are all challenging and awesome.

Different materials level up different weapons, as well as fragments found throughout Caelondia.

Along with the active bonuses the upgrades that the forge gives you, spirits provide a lot of passive bonuses. By accessing a distillery, one of the structures, you can add one spirit per level to constantly assist you. Some might give you more health, more continues, expand the capacity of health tonics, or black tonics (which allow you to use special moves). With each level up, you can equip a new spirit, to a maximum of ten. The customization allowed by the spirits allows each player to make The Kid be how they want him to be. The different spirits are only a fraction of what they can do.

The gods do more than make the game more difficult, they reward you for your daring by giving you more experience and more fragments. Each god makes enemies stronger or more dangerous with each god evoked. One might make enemies shoot out projectiles when they are damaged, give them more health, or even make them regenerate health. Do this at your own risk, as all of these effects combined don't add difficulty, they multiply it.

Just one of the many effects added by the gods.

The gameplay has so many elements to it and never stops changing. It's a great system with lots of customization. While all of that might seem like a lot to take in, the load is applied slowly so you have time to adjust to everything. All of this makes Bastion and incredibly deep experience with much to explore.

With a fantastic story and deep gameplay, Bastion continues it's streak with gorgeous visuals. As shown above, everything looks hand painted in a great way. The environments have colors that suit them, so it isn't always bright and colorful. Trine might be bright to the point of making your eyes hurt, but Bastion is gently colorful, presenting it's visuals gently to the eye.  There are many scenes I wish I could put on a poster, they look that good. A nice visual effect takes place when the kid takes damage. The more damage he takes, the redder the screen gets.

Bastion keeps it's perfect record going with a soundtrack that rivals most Nintendo games. While not orchestrated, it has some awesome tracks like The Bottom Feeders, Pale Watchers, Bynn the Breaker, The Mancer's Dilema, Terminal March, and the three voiced tracks: Build That Wall, Mother, I'm Here, and Setting Sail and Coming Home. Each track makes you feel intense emotion. In one of the final scenes, Mother, I'm Here comes on and it's all I can do not to cry.

The element of Bastion that you've likely heard or heard of if the narrator. The stunning performance of Logan Cunningham rivals that or Morgan Freeman (No joke). The narrator is dynamic, so depending on what The Kid does, the narrator comments on it. If you destroy someone who as turned to ash by the Calamity, he comments on it. The weapons you choose makes him comment on it. You might find yourself doing things just so that you can hear that sweet, sweet voice.

I've talked about the story as little as I can. I feel that if I went any more into what happens, there would be massive spoilers. Bastion has a great story, and one that would be confusing if I tried to explain it. Expect to cry on the final mission, which is one of the best blends of story and gameplay in any game.

Kid just contemplates why you haven't played his game already.

Bastion is one of the defining moments of the downloadable scene. With everything a game should have blended into a package that doesn't stay longer that it needs to, but can stay longer if you want it to, it's a great game. With an interesting story, and emotional story, a memorable soundtrack, and a fantastic performance by Logan Cunningham, Bastion is the perfection of the indie game. Bastion gets a 10/10.

See you tomorrow!

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