Bastion on PlayStation 4
Back in the summer of 2011 a new indie studio released their first game and it was better than anyone could have hoped it to be. Released on Xbox Live Arcade in July of 2011 (and on PC later that summer), Bastion received critical acclaim for its story, design, narration, music, combat…well, for an endless number of reasons.
Fast forward a few years and the wonderful folks at Supergiant Games did it again when they released Transistor on the PlayStation 4 and PC platforms, further cementing the fact that they knew how to build a deep and engaging game. Of course with the success of their second game, many were left wondering if Bastion would see the light of day again, specifically on platforms that never had a chance to run it. Many wishes were answered when the studio revealed that they teamed up with BlitWorks to port the game over to the PlayStation 4, and PlayStation Vita.
Now don’t get confused. This is not a remaster, it is a re-release. An opportunity for those who never got a chance to experience the game that placed the developers on the map. Or, even better, fall in love with the game all over again if that’s to your liking. For some that may be a bit off putting. Lately remasters, definitive editions, handsome versions, and all other sorts of bigger, prettier versions of old games. This is not to say that the new release of Bastion looks or plays badly, it is still a gem. It’s only to let you know that you’re getting pretty much the exact same package as before, just maybe a bit sharper.
Luckily, Bastion stands up pretty damn well on its own without any need for upgrades. The art direction still manages to amaze with its very unique take on fantasy. Bright landscapes that fill in under your feet, stark contrasts between ruin and technology, and interesting enemy designs keep everything fresh as you progress through the story. A story that is just as beautiful as the artwork supporting it.
Set in a world in ruin, torn asunder by a mysterious calamity, player’s get to take control of The Kid. You must travel to the eponymous Bastion in hopes of finding refuge but instead find a lone survivor (who also happens to be the game’s narrator), and a mission to be carried out. The Kid must venture from floating island to floating island as you endeavor to put back together the puzzle of Bastion and the secret behind the calamity. All the while facing new threats, hazards, and growing stronger.
Of course you wouldn’t be expected to just travel from place to place. Combat is plentiful in Bastion, and although it take a bit getting used to, it is fun and varied. The Kid starts out with a large hammer and a bow, but eventually builds up a pretty respectable arsenal. A sword that can split up when thrown, a rapid firing crossbow-like weapon, even a bazooka that shoots large energy blasts are all up for grabs. And while some portions of the game will briefly force you to use a specific weapon, for most of the campaign you will have full control over your equipment in Bastion.
Figuring out the proper combination when picking a pair of weapons, and choosing just the right special skill is all a part of the fun, and lends itself very well to the strategy element in Bastion. Do you go for the quick firing Fang Repeater, or do you opt for the Scrap Musket which gives you a wider area of influence when you pull your trigger at the cost of fire-rate and reload speed. The same situations arise when choosing the weapons you use to get up close and personal with enemies in Bastion. Also, don’t forget your Bullhead Shield which is the center of all your parries and counter attacks. Mastering your movements along with defending, and attacking is the key. You can run from a lot of fights if you choose to, but standing your ground in order to earn some much needed experience points is a viable option as well.
Leveling up in Bastion works a bit differently than it does in most RPGs. Instead of earning skill points, The Kid gains an extra slot in the Distillery where he can equip (and/or un-equip) Spirits that offer a variety of buffs, skills, and abilities. For those looking to ramp up their experience earnings, The Kid can visit The Shrine where gods can be invoked in order to increase gains by raising the challenge Bastion offers to gamers. It’s a nice way of allowing players to truly mold Bastion into the experience they desire, and it works very well. Pick new modifiers and play, if you don’t like some, or they prove to be too difficult, go back to the shrine and remove them. Simple yet satisfying.
You can also practice, and test your skill in stages structured around a single weapon with a chance to earn valuable items and secret skills. Or, if you’re feeling up to the task, you can take a trip to Who Knows Where, and entrench yourself deeper into the back story of Bastion‘s central cast. With so many different options for players to choose when it comes to playing the game, Bastion shines as a perfect example of a well rounded RPG experience.
All in all, Bastion manages to maintain its shine. The game is still stunning in both its art direction and writing. Gameplay is fun and varied, and there are many different experiences to be had throughout. It’s also nice to once again see the game that laid the foundation for Transistor‘s presentation and mechanics. Whether you’ve played it before, or are looking for something new to dive into, you’d be hard pressed to find an option better than Bastion.