Yeah, Yeah, Bastion, Whatever

Dear Reader,

Okay, someone (other than Destructoid) has to say this: “Bastion” is a perfectly adequate game, and that’s it. This thing may be the overhyped title of the summer. The one really cool thing about it is none of the things that everyone keeps talking about. Hit the jump and let me explain to you why “Bastion” is not as awesome as you’re hearing, and you may just want to save those MS points for something else. I recommend “Baby Maker 5: Do Or Die.”

Exactly my reaction as well, Kid

1. Narrator. Nobody can shut up about the narrator in this game, which is appropriate, because neither can he. Am I the only one not at all charmed by this non-starter of a game mechanic? The voice actor does nice work, but there’s very rarely a sense that what he’s saying is unique to your play through. It’s incredibly rote and changes very little. “Bastion’s” developers may have been canny in including it, because it creates a false sense of real uniqueness about the title, but I was disappointed all the same.

2. Forming Worlds. You’ll also hear people tell you that the world of “Bastion” forms around you as you walk, snapping into place from underneath your feet. That’s true, it does, but again: who cares? The paths are as linear as any other game, and honestly I would prefer to be able to see where I was going. Every now and then, “Bastion” uses this technique for some interesting gameplay mechanics, but the rest of the time it’s just pointless. I don’t get why everyone is so charmed by it.

"The kid knew he had to save Torchlig--er--Bastion."

3. Combat. This is really nothing to get excited about. Button-mashing at close range, ranged weapons at a distance. You know the drill. It’s carried off effectively, I grant you that, but it’s a little over-simple and I found myself wearying of it quickly. And for the record, “Torchlight’s” combat is more intuitive and deeper.

4. Art Style. It has bright colors. Congratulations. Meanwhile, the animations are incredibly rigid, and the bright colors on the landscape are so overdone that they lose value. I was not charmed.

Okay, now all of this is maybe over-harsh, but I’m just trying to make a point here: go into “Bastion” with your expectations in check. Some of the effusive reviews of this thing are truly hollow, and once you get through the clutter of “it has a narrator!” there’s very little there. This is a very predictable isometric button-masher RPG, with all the trappings that go with that genre. If you’re up for that, awesome.

Oh, and by the way, that really cool thing no one is talking about: “Bastion” employs a level mod system called “Gods” which is not unlike the skulls in “Halo.” Activating them will increase the challenge of a dungeon, but also up your XP and loot potential. Furthermore, you can tweak what kind of difficulty you’re okay with, mixing and matching until you feel comfortable. This is a genuinely awesome idea and it’s cunningly implemented.

But yes, let’s all talk about the narrator some more.




  • Anonymous

    I really wonder how far you got through this game by “button mashing”. Once you turn on the temple things that make enemies harder, its impossible to mash. You fail to mention the very robust blocking and dodge mechanic. Hitting the block button just before an attack grants a counter attack. Battles require strategy of knowing when to attack, dodge, and block/counter your enemies attacks. Mashing will get you killed…very fast.

    You also fail to mention the cool leveling up system, where each form a liquor grants you an ability, the weapon upgrading system, fun trials to unlock new materials for weapons, and the wide array of different weapons to choose from. Those proving grounds are damn addicting trying to get the top score to unlock the highest item.

    As for the “linear worlds” argument, it plays no differently that your standard top down dungeon crawler. Some basic exploring will reveal new paths to discover more shards or items for conversation pieces back at the bastion.

    Oh and the narrator often reacts to your combat style, weapon choices, and various things you do while in a level, as well as describing the main story. What else do you want from this?

    Theres nothing AMAZINGLY INNOVATIVE about this title, but it’s damn solid and fun, and DAMN WORTH the low price of $15.

  • Andrew Allen

    I concede that I forgot to mention the counter system, that is nice. The weapon leveling you’re talking about is, uh, great, but again it’s in line with my basic argument: nothing special.

    As for “it plays no differently than your standard top-down dungeon crawler.” That’s exactly my point. It plays no differently. I’m not saying that’s the end of the world, but it’s not special either.

    I put solid hours into this thing and I heard the narrator react in a unique way maybe twice. Everything else felt like a horoscope or a fortune cookie: you could say it to anyone, at any time, and they’d think it applied to them.

  • Anonymous

    Also, this game was made by like 4 people. Cut them some slack!

  • Anonymous

    I still love this game.  The art style in particular is astounding and hearkens to a style no longer used. I feel as though it plays much better than similar games.

    I LOVE IT.  

  • Josh Bass

    Honestly, how many games are really like Bastion? You make it sound like it’s generic and obviously “nothing special”.  
    “and the bright colors on the landscape are so overdone that they lose value.” 
    Are you fucking kidding me?

  • Matthew

    As a staff, we all have different opinions.  Andrew is honest with his.

    There are also those on the staff that love the game.  Myself included.

  • Andrew Allen

    What? They do! I mean it’s certainly not ugly, but neither is it singularly evocative. I’ve been seeing a color scheme not unlike this since “Chrono Trigger,” and I’m not saying that’s BAD, I’m just saying I don’t see what’s special.