The silent protagonist
The silent protagonist

He’s holding a cog and has a hammer strapped to his back, what more do you want from a game?

I picked up Bastion during the biannual bleeding of my wallet (known colloquially as the Steam sales) for a few dollars.  I had heard good things about the game before I picked it up, so my expectations were set a bit higher than normal for an “out of the blue indie game”.

After about ten minutes of game play, I had precisely two things to say about the game.

First:

 

 

 

 

Second: I would have gladly paid the full fifteen dollars for this game.

Since I picked up Bastion, I have spent the better part of nine hours playing it (thanks, Steam) and have beaten the game twice.

This is one of the prettiest (both visually and aurally) and well designed games I’ve played in a long time.  Bastion proves that you don’t need top of the line graphics to make an aesthetically pleasing game.  Listening to the narrator of the story is like listening to a smooth jazz band made entirely out of honey and thousand dollar bills.

The controls are pretty basic, including a block, dodge, special attack, as well as right-click/left click to use your two selected weapons.  Combat feels smooth and the story blends almost seamlessly with the game play, alleviating the need for cut scenes.

But, let’s take a step back to the weapons, which I thought were one area where the game absolutely shined.  There are 11 weapons you gain access to throughout the course of the game, 12 if you want to count the brief period where you wield a battering ram (sadly, not as much fun as you’d think).  With a nice mix between melee and ranged, each weapon felt unique and enjoyably balanced with all the others.  There didn’t seem to be a “broken” combination of weapons that were simply better than the rest.

The sheer number of possible weapon combinations means that there will be a combination to fit your preferred play style.  Whether you are like me and prefer the slow and ponderous, but ridiculously destructive hammer and mortar (Yep, you totally get a mortar, and it’s exactly as awesome as you think.); or maybe you fancy speed and finesse over raw destructive power:  The dueling pistols and machete should suit you nicely, then.

And each weapon has two special attacks associated with it (one that comes with the weapon, and one you have to unlock).  In addition to unlocking the extra special attack, each weapon has an upgrade path that offers a level of customization of its own inside of each weapon.  Do you want a longer range or a faster reload on that carbine?

Actually, I think the only part of the game that I outright didn’t enjoy was the part where you were given the battering ram to use.  At first, I was super excited about it.  I proudly strutted my way up to the first group of bad guys I saw and laughed maniacally as I ground them into a fine paste.  But, as more and more enemies began appearing at different corners of the screen, I began to realize how unbelievably slow the battering ram caused you to move.  It also took away your ability to dodge, leaving you with only the “block” option.

That’s good and fine when you’re fighting between one and three bad guys who are all generally somewhere in front of you.  It is, however, impossible to block two attacks coming from either side of you.  And because this is happening damn near the end, the game assumes you can handle anything it can throw at you. And I could, if I had been able to use my fully upgraded dynamic duo of hammer and mortar (otherwise known as the “blow up everything, crush the ashes into the ground and skip the questions all together” style), but, for the last level of the game, you are incapable of using whatever weapon combo you spent the game pimping out to whatever murderous standards you envisioned for them.

Despite this hiccup, the end of the game was still one of the best I have seen in a long while.  Without using cut scenes (or even dialogue), Bastion managed to produce a more moving and thought-provoking ending than a good number of main stream, high budget games.

In summation, this game is a ton of fun and totally worth picking up.  Other than an annoying little hiccup toward the end of the game, the game play never stops being fun and challenging.

Bastion was developed by Supergiant Games and published by Warner Bros.  It is available on a number of different platforms, including the PC, Xbox 360, Google Chrome, Mac, and Linux.  As a result, it can be purchased a number of different ways, all of which are outlined on their website.

About The Author

Things I love: Video games, comics, steampunk, space
Things I like: Cyberpunk, hard cider, not being in the sun, pokemon
Things I dislike: The sun

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