SuperGiant Games and its new title Bastion has set the bar extremely high for fellow titles in the Xbox LIVE Summer of Arcade. This is one corker of a game, so the question is, how to you follow this?
Just like any great story Bastion starts with a tragedy, and they don’t get bigger than the whole world being destroyed, with something referred to as The Calamity literally ripping the world apart and turning the inhabitants into statues of dust. You play a character referred to as The Kid, awakening in his room right after The Calamity, how did he survive and what is that strange voice? As you head towards the safe haven of Bastion the strange voice of the mysterious narrator will continue explaining what is occurring. The Kid is then tasked with venturing to many different areas of Caelondia, defeating a freakish variety of enemies, locating survivors and trying to find out exactly what The Calamity was.
Once located it is apparent that Bastion has also been affected by The Calamity, but fortunately you are able to rebuild it with crystal-like cores that are scattered around Caelondia. Acting as the games hub, Bastion allows you to create buildings that let you to alter the many aspects of the game once unlocked. Weapons and secret skills can be upgraded and selected from the Arsenal and Forge buildings, the Distillery allows you to boost stats and powers, in the Lost and Found you can create items that may be helpful in your quest. Its not just your character that can be customised, upgrading the shops later in the game after a plot twist offers more areas of customisation and even the gameplay can be altered via the Shrine, with Idols collected allowing you to up the difficulty and boost experience gained.
Once prepared you can then go to the Skyway, a pad that launches you into the air to view the game map. From here you can carry out the main quest missions or try your hands on one of the Proving Grounds which tests your skills with the weapons you have unlocked so far.
Though predominantly an action game it is the narrator who steals the show. Initially a strange voice talking through all of the actions, he later becomes a friend in Bastion itself. The narrator really adds a special something to the game, making it feel almost personal and similar to when your parents would read a bedtime story, with the narration and the world unfolding before you like a book, with almost every action you make having the narrator comment, be it felling an enemy, describing The Kids thoughts about the ashen statues he finds or even falling off the side of the world; the voice always brings suffering and a little humour to the events that occur.
The choice of an isometric view allows for some great level design, with the world re-creating itself tile by tile as you wander through the many areas, however this does cause a few headaches with targeting early on in the game. The action is quite full on from the start, with your character travelling to numerous locations battling enemies and collecting cores and later shards with a huge selection of weapons. The Kid is able to carry two weapons at a time plus a secret skill so it’s wise to test the weapons in the Who Knows Where levels to help you find your best combination; bows are a nightmare to aim but really powerful, muskets have a wide shot but the recoil can send you flying off the edge of the world and dual pistols offer rapid fire but a lot of reloading that leaves you open to attack. The Secret Skills are limited to how many powerups you collect but allow for some powerful moves to get you out of sticky situations like bringing in a lure Squirt to trick enemies or a more standard frenzied burst of bullets. Even your trusty shield can be used as an offensive weapon with well timed button presses allowing for counter attacks.
With all this luscious presentation and customization there is still a gripe, the action; at times it seems far too frenzied, being surrounded by squirts and reapers can get overwhelming, resulting in you getting a beating, made all the more awkward that you can’t heal whilst under attack, leaving you to have to wait for a gap which inevitably comes too late.
Bastion is a great start to the Xbox Arcade summer line up and an instant must have title to fill in those late summer evenings.
Rating: Excellent Review policy
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