Bastion, an action-packed RPG by SuperGiant Games, makes it’s debut on Xbox Live as part of the Summer of Arcade titles. Bastion has been destroyed by an event called the Calamity and has been thrown into chaos and ruin as you awake from a deep slumber. All you can hear is the noise of an old, and mostly annoying, man called ‘Rucks’ who’s filling you in on what the world is about and how you should make good use of the weapons that you’re introduced to. You’ve got no clue why you’re here or what you have to do, but everything around you has been thrown into catastrophe and trying to make sense of it all may be the first step to discovering what is needed from you.
To begin your journey, your first weapon is just a hammer and a faint reminder from the narrator that this is your faithful and trusty friend. Echoes of the old man ring through each and every waking step and you’ll soon begin to understand the history, legend and folklore that surrounds Bastion. Everyone you once knew is now dead and all that remains are fragment pieces of this destroyed world which is suspended in the sky.
As the player, you must repair everything and rescue everybody. The game starts you on a hexgrid which slowly reveals itself as the player explores. Players will fly from destination to destination trying to rebuild and restore bastion in this dungeon style crawler where war rages in every direction. You’ll fight enemies and test your skills in the proving grounds, a place where you can learn how to use each weapon you’ve acquired.
Trinkets and treasures are waiting to be found, as well as constant conflict with a whole host of enemies. Some of the enemies are pretty easy to destroy, while others take trail and error with various different weapons to overcome.
There is a good arsenal of weapons to choose from such as the war machete, trip mine and breakers bow. The war machete is ideal for fast melee attacks and throwing attacks compensate for short melee ranges. Breakers bow is perfect for those targets that are set on areas that can’t always be reached by foot. They are a versatile ranged weapon and their attack power increases as the bowstring is drawn. Players can also make use of the fang repeater, which is a rapid fire ranged weapon. Although you cannot move while using this weapon, it does reload itself automatically, which is quite handy. In the early levels, I spent most of my time using the Cael Hammer, which although big and heavy managed to be a well balanced weapon and seemed to do enough damage, at least to start with. Through exploration, the player will come across many new and more powerful weapons to make use of.
As you progress through the game, you’ll be able to build your own foundations to Bastion. These include buildings such as a forge where you can upgrade weapons, and a distilery, in which you can purchase a few hearty potions to keep your health topped up. Each level of Bastion is challenging as you search for new crystal cores to begin Bastion’s restoration. The storyline remains a bit of a mystery throughout and the on-going narrative becomes annoying as the game progresses as it doesn’t really seem to fit in with the game.
Whilst the use of the hex tiled environments was interesting, it can become easy to lose direction, especially as paths only reveal themselves when the player approaches. As a result, it can be difficult to find the Crystal Core at times. The watercolour artwork in Bastion is amazing and you’ll be instantly moved by how quaint and pretty it is. The storyline may not have been especially engaging, but the gameplay is solid throughout with plenty of action, interesting characters and treasure to find.
Bastion has a decidedly retro feel about it, so if you fancy a bit of old-school action RPG gaming with a much more modern visual style, then Bastion will certainly fit some of the criteria and is a great beginning for the 2011 XBL Summer of Arcade.