One thing I feel is missing from my life is having my own personal voiceover, to follow me around as I go about my day to day duties. It would be brilliant to have someone commenting on my heroic activities, like getting the milk or taking the dog for a walk. If I had to choose who would deliver the commentary to my life, well the Bastion guy would be in with a big fat chance. For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, Bastion is a game that hit the 360 late into its cycle, proving a big hit on Xbox Live Arcade. Now it’s been released on the Xbox One with a new shiny update, but I wonder, does the magic that we experienced first time round still hold true?
Now, the first thing to say about this release is that there is absolutely nothing new content wise. The game looks a bit shiner and a smidgen prettier than before, but if you are after extra levels or more monsters, there is nothing here for you. If you’ve never played Bastion before however then you’re in for a treat, and if you played it before…well sometimes it is good to go back and remember the magic.
You play as “The Kid”, waking up to the end of civilization as you know it. Something has come into Bastion called “The Calamity” and destroyed the world, people and buildings – it’s up to you to find out what has happened and restore the world to its former glory. The game plays like a third person adventure in which you hunt cores in different levels of the game, all in order to restore the world as you remember it
You attack monsters with different types of weapons and there is some low-level puzzle action to be had, which involves pressure pads and levers etc. It’s very much like Diablo in the level design and the way it plays, but in the same breath it’s a very different unique beast of a game. The gameplay isn’t a pushover and you have to attack each level with thoughtfulness and skill. Learn to use your shield and it will make your life a whole lot easier.
There are some tough boss battles, not darks souls tough, but still tricky. It’s fun to play though and it rarely lets you down and constantly excites the fingers. When you collect a core from a world, you take it back to the Bastion (a kind of base) and you can restore the people and places from before. There is a weapon upgrade place, a place to get buffs and the opportunity to gather new skills and challenges. The weapon combinations are great fun; varied in their approach and style and it gives extra life to the game – if and when you complete it.
The big elements that make the game such a beloved fan favourite is the storytelling and the voice work. When talking about the latter you have to talk about the narrator of the story, Rucks. Like the narrator from the Coen Brothers film The Big Lebowski, with his Texas drawl and witty commentaries on life, nature and the state of the world. It’s all down a lot to the voice actor, Logon Cunningham’s skills, but the brilliant writing helps too. If I accidently fall off the edge of the world, we would hear the comment “so the kid fell to his death…only kidding” before putting you back at the start of the checkpoint. When I run out of conversation options with one of the characters the voiceover says “Sometimes there isn’t much more to say”. Perfect and brilliant.
The storytelling and writing is wonderful as well with some neat twists and surprises along the way that I won’t spoil here. It has a melancholy that really oozes from every pore and I think without the amazing voice work and writing, the actual gameplay would grow rather stale. The looks of the game are really classy and with the Xbox One visual upgrade everything looks even more lovely then I remember it the first time around. The art is all hand drawn beauty with nice details in the characters, monsters and locations. The soundtrack as well is stunning with stellar accolades going out to the composer for his atmospheric and potent composition.
To conclude, if you have never played Bastion before then this is a must buy. It’s beautiful, sad and a great journey with some fun Diablo type gameplay and neat surprises along the way. If you’ve played Bastion and purchased it on the 360 then it’s free for you on the Xbox One. I would recommend downloading it again and entering back into this wonderful atmospheric world.