Originally published on Trevor Trove on February 6, 2016
TL; DR(eview) – Bastion is a great action-RPG with a beautiful art style and aesthetic. The games compartmentalized level design makes it an ideal fit for the PlayStation Vita as you can easily pick up and play a level at a time or sit down for a longer session if that’s your wish.
When Bastion was first published on the Xbox Live Arcade, I didn’t own an Xbox 360 so I missed out. When it launched on PlayStation 4 last April I picked it up because word of mouth on the game had been pretty solid. But that was right around the time Catherine and I started dating so I never ended up playing it. So when it was made available for Vita at PlayStation Experience, I took advantage of the Cross-Buy functionality and downloaded it.
Right away, it was obvious that this game shared a lot of the same DNA as Supergiant Games’ other title Transistor. While Transistor‘s combat allows for a little more strategy compared to Bastion‘s hack-and-slash/run-and-gun approach, it was immediately apparent to me how Transistor had built upon the groundwork laid out here in Bastion.
The story of Bastion is almost entirely told through the Narrator Rucks, who will also occasionally provide some commentary on your actions within the game by remarking when you fall off a cliff or destroy all of the breakable items in an area. You play as Kid, a Caelondian warrior trying to uncover what led to a world-destroying event called the Calamity. Fighting through a series of levels, you begin to rebuild the Bastion – a floating safe haven for you and Rucks at the end of the world.
As you progress through the game, your arsenal of weapons grows, allowing you to customize your load-out to suit your play style. I, for example, found myself favoring the quick dagger-like War Machete for melee combat (which doubled for long-range combat as I could throw the knives) and the shotgun-like Scrap Musket for more mid-range combat. Each weapon has a corresponding Proving Ground in the world where you can test your skill and maybe even unlock a Secret Skill based around each weapon.
As you rebuild Bastion, you’ll gain access to additional locations like the Distillery, which allows you to equip Spirits that will add perks to your character – one Spirit for each level. Similarly the Forge allows you to upgrade your weapons, picking one of two upgrade options for each level of the weapon (increased damage vs. faster reload time, for example). For those looking for a challenge, you can turn on Idols at the Shrine, which will add universal modifiers to your enemies like faster movement, regenerating health, etc. Higher risk means a higher reward though as you’ll gain experience and money boosts with each active Idol.
Bastion feels right at home in the much-appreciated mini-RPG genre alongside games like Child of Light and South Park: The Stick of Truth: games that allow for plenty of customization but not weighed down with a 30/50/100-hour time commitment. I’m sorry it took me so long to get around to it, but I’m glad I did.
Bastion is available now on PC, Mac, Linux, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation Vita. For more information, visit their website. (I highly recommend Transistor as well).