A Well-Earned Legacy
Bastion is a game that you’ve probably heard of. It was released back in 2011 from indie studio Supergiant Games to critical acclaim. The game has since been distributed on other platforms, and is now making its way to the Nintendo Switch. Is this indie classic still as good as it was back in the day, or has time taken its toll?
Bastion opens with a white-haired kid sleeping in a world that is falling apart at the seams. As he begins to make his way through the destruction, a gruff narrator informs us that an event called the Calamity destroyed everything that once was. It’s up to the kid to figure out the mysteries of the Calamity while trying to find a way to have a peaceful life away from all the carnage.
I don’t want to give away too many story details for this game, because it does some extremely clever tricks with its narration and characters. Even in 2018, there are some curveballs the game throws in its narrative that are done so well that it had me more invested in the game. It moves along at a standard pace in the first half, but it’s the second half where things get really interested. Not only is your crusade a bit more personal, but you’ll be faced with some nearly impossible choices. It was the last few levels that had me glued to the screen.
I want to take some time to note that Bastion has some of the best narration I’ve witnessed in any video game I’ve ever played. Not only is it performed well, but it’s relevant to the story and has a place in the context of the game. There aren’t many stories that can do narration as well as this game.
There isn’t a lot about Bastion that hasn’t already said. This time around, not much has changed either. You go through a series of levels looking for special cores to progress the story. The game is action-based, though, so you’ll be fighting your way through Gasfellas, Scumbags, and Anklegators. You start out combating them with just a hammer and a Fang Repeater, but you’ll quickly gain more weapons in your arsenal.
The beauty of Bastion‘s combat system is in the simplicity. It’s easy enough to explain on paper, but fleshed out enough in the game that it never got stale. Players will constantly find new weapons which force them to use different strategies to tackle certain monsters. Likewise, different types of enemies require different methods to get rid of them. It’s important to constantly be on your toes.
The options don’t end there, either. In between levels, you have access to various buildings where you can switch your weapon loadout, upgrade your weapons, and even give yourself special stats as you level up. There are also in-game challenges that reward you with currency, a shop where you can buy materials for upgrading weapons, and a shrine where you can make the game harder for yourself (if you find that you’re breezing through too easily).
These customization options make the game feel much more complete and well-rounded. Couple that with the fact that there are challenge levels where you can hone your skills, and it’s hard to be bored with Bastion. Much like the story, the first half can get repetitive, with a lot of the environments looking similar and the enemies being frequently re-used, but it’s still a fun time. The second half knocks it out of the park with enemy and level variation.
Still Got it
It says a lot about how good of a job Supergiant Games did when making Bastion that the visuals still hold up seven years later. The graphics aren’t mind-blowing, but it all has an aesthetic theme that goes a long way to make it stand out, similar to how Okami managed to look so good years after its launch. It does have a few kink, though, because it can be hard to tell what you can walk on and what you can’t (leading to a few falls that I didn’t feel were my fault), but the visuals come together quite nicely.
The soundtrack and voice acting, likewise, still hold up. It just goes to show how much longer a game can last when high-quality work is put into it. Good music is good music regardless of what era you live in.
System reviewed on: Nintendo Switch.
Disclaimer: A review code for Bastion was provided by Super Giant Games.