I’m not much of an RPG gamer but when I saw Bastion previewed for the Summer of Arcade I pegged it as one I would enjoy. Most of the time my gaming expectations aren’t fully satisfied but this time they were exceeded.
I don’t have much of an attention span when it comes to video games. This doesn’t mean I can’t stick with a game for a long time, I can, it just means I don’t want a lot of downtime during my game. I don’t want to talk to NPCs in the tavern or solve riddles with dialog trees. The story needs to be present and entertaining but shouldn’t require me to take notes. I don’t need lengthy cut scenes to motivate me, nor do I need a party of mages, rangers, wizards and elves to keep things fun. Just tell me where to go, what to find and who to beat up and I’ll do my best to do so…and Bastion is the perfect example of everything I want in an RPG.
- Bastion has a simple-yet-fun story of good versus evil.
- Bastion has NPCs that contribute to the experience but aren’t required and don’t drone on.
- Bastion has a nice level-up system and fun inventory management.
- Bastion has a lot of action and destruction.
Bastion joins a select few
Bastion reminds me a lot of the Guardian of Light release from last summer. It’s a wonderful balance of everything that makes a game fun and entertaining. On top of all the game play goodness, Bastion is also beautiful. The worlds of Bastion are colorful and extremely artistic. The style of Bastion will remind you more of Braid than Tomb Raider but it works wonderfully and is a delight to see, although there are times when the art is hard to decipher and you’ll find yourself falling through a hole in the floor pretty easily. You may notice the art style first but the second thing you’ll come to love is that you have a narrator.
Having a narrator talk throughout your game might sound annoying but believe me when I say it is the exact opposite. Whereas most RPG games give you directions in the form of text that requires endless reading, Bastion dumps all their effort into the narration of each level and just about each action your character can perform. Having a narrator is also a great way to fix the “where do I go” problem RPGs often suffer from. Bastion as a whole is extremely linear but more than once the narrator helped guide me around a level where I would have otherwise been standing there wondering what to do next. Having a voiceover also eliminates the need to stop the action for text and dialog trees. You can keep fighting and moving while you listen to directions and suggestions. The only problem with the narration is that I want it so much be to Sam Elliot and it’s not. Hopefully they can remedy that in a sequel.
Teaming up with fake Sam Elliot feels very efficient and gives you the satisfaction of teamwork without requiring an actual team. This is another feather in Bastion‘s cap. Too many games lean on the multiplayer crutch, and it’s nice to play a game that is incredibly satisfying for the single player. They could have easily slapped co-op on to Bastion but when games do that I feel it detracts from the single player campaign because everyone is so focused on what multiplayer delivers (or doesn’t deliver) that they skip right over the campaign and dismiss the game as weak. A lot of time and effort went into Bastion’s campaign and it shows in every detail of the game. So what’s wrong with Bastion?
Flaws are few and far between
Honestly, there’s not much to ding Bastion on except maybe the wash-rinse-repeat aspect that is, frankly, common amongst every game, especially RPGs. Bastion is several hours of game play that has you hopping from level to level in search of crystals to restore order to the world. At a glance Bastion looks like a very monotonous journey but the length of the levels and inventory choices create a wonderful pace. Each level is relatively short but your selection of weapons, upgrades and add-ons keeps you playing over and over while you learn and pick your favorite combination. In addition to the main story quest there are smaller challenge levels that focus on weapons and tactics which keep things fun and motivating by way of high scores and time limits…my kind of challenge. If you get a little bored with the main line you can jump out for a bit and just have fun beating stuff up.
However, Bastion succeeds most at just being a good, solid game that is a little break from the normal video game grind. It doesn’t matter if you spend most of your time shooting people in Call of Duty, watching rendered HD goodness in Final Fantasy, or trying to lay down the next high score in Galaga DX…Bastion is a wonderful distraction that is a great experience. It’s just challenging enough to not bore you and the pace keeps you playing without even noticing. It’s rare for a game to keep me interested for more than a half hour in one sitting, but Bastion unlocked that achievement, and for that I have to give it props. The Summer of Arcade is off to a great start…lets hope it keeps up.