One Sentence Review:
“A modern remix of the original Zelda, Terranigma, Secret of Mana, and Secret of Evermore… sort of.”
8 out of 10
Overview & Gameplay & Fun Factor & Replayability:
The game is a mix of the original Zelda, Terranigma (a lost SNES gem), Secret of Mana, Secret of Evermore, and Final Fantasy 6. Those are already all must-play games so imagine how great this game is. The gameplay is a lot like most of those games.
This is a hack and slash game that is a very special distinct style. The world just ended in a magical apocalypse and you’re one of the few survivors. Pretty much everybody you knew is dead and you’re trying to find a way to restore the world.
The game has a special style of its own. The world feels like an extreme fantasy world with the culture and civilization of the world looking like the old west. The music (see below) is a lot of folk, country, and electronic music and it reflects this. The game is original because there is a Narrator describing everything the main character The Kid does, feels, and thinks. This adds a lot of depth to what is otherwise a simple game (simple is NOT bad).
When I sat down to play this game, I figured I would do so and be done with it, not necessarily because I heard anything about this game other than seeing it came out, but rather because I bought a bunch of games on sale on Steam for Christmas. It was late on a Wednesday and I figured I’d play a quick game, beat it fast, and go to bed. By the time I thought it was 10:30 PM that maybe I should go eat something it was in reality 2:30 AM and my body was screaming at me that I was starving. This game is quite a lot of fun since action RPGs generally are that way. The narration keeps you engaged in the game. Not only that but since the game autosaves, you don’t pause to do that either. I give Fun Factor a score of 8 out of 10. Why that score? Well that’s because after a while the game does sort of become repetitive. Don’t get me wrong, the story is great and everything but when you replay the game the story is pretty much the same except when you get to the ending of the game and you have 4 different choices to make. I give Replayability a score of 6 out of 10. The game opens up different modes in which to play the game in after you beat it but I don’t feel like going through the story all over again, myself.
Difficulty & Difficulty Versatility:
You get to super customize how hard you want this game to be through the use of the Shrine building in the game. You can’t change it in real-time through the menu but you can go back to The Bastion and reconfigure which Gods to piss off, I mean pray for, determining how hard you want to make the enemies.
The default difficulty with no Shrine modifications was really easy for me. You can literally make this game NES-hard, and I’m talking about the original Megaman games level of difficulty. Since you can customize it so much, it’s up to you to make your own challenge. I give both the Difficulty and Difficulty Versatility scores of 10 out of 10. Don’t be a wimp!
I bought this game and the soundtrack on Steam for $10 during the holiday sale they have every year. I would say, I’d pay at most $15 for it (for the game alone), considering how good it is. It’s worth having played it at least once, sort of like Trine was to me.
The sound effects are respectable and are often ques for whether you should dodge or shield yourself. The Narrator (Stranger) makes the game really engaging because he keeps the game flowing by describing what The Kid is thinking about as he continues on his quest, as well as tells you more about the history of the dead world. I give Sound a score of 10 out of 10. The narration really did it for me in making this game rise to a whole new level. This game could have easily have been made on DOS, Amiga CD32, Sega CD, or Playstation 1 but instead of using the CD technology of those systems to create something like this they tried to pack it with shitty video instead but I am getting sidetracked.
The music for this game is probably one of the best soundtracks for any game that came out in 2011. The music is a mix of folk, country, and electronic music. The general level music sounds a lot like the music from SNES action RPG games like the ones I mentioned before. There are specific folk and country songs that are so good that they are almost chilling to hear, especially with the way the action, the narration, and storyline mix along with their introduction.
The introduction of such music was perfectly made especially with the atmosphere of the game. You’re in a fantasy post-apocalypse world, so imagine getting to hear such beauty in the middle of death. Made me think of some of the best parts of Fallout or Final Fantasy 6.
Now most of the music in the game is the electronic SNES kind of music, I just wanted to post the best folk songs here especially since they’re sang so well and the lyrics are so relevant to this game.
The music kind of made me think of some of the music by Tom Waits, especially this song:
If you never heard of Tom Waits before, here is one of my favorite songs by him:
Anyways, the music for this game is TOP! I give the Music a score of 10 out of 10. The music makes you FEEL what’s going on. Rather than do some stupid cut scene that makes you have no interaction and makes it like a movie (the opposite of what a video game should be), you live the music as you play the game. A lot of BIG game developers have a lot to learn from this little game.
The game never crashed, not even while I alt-tabbed, running a bunch of stuff in the background. Stability/Reliability get a score of 10 out of 10. The music gets lower while in the menu and alt-tabbed but does not mute itself.
You control The Kid with both keyboard and mouse (for the PC version). The controls are pretty self intuitive. You block with SHIFT and roll away from enemies with spacebar. The left mouse button does your melee attack (unless you change what weapon goes there) and right mouse controls your missile weapon (again unless you decided to have two melee weapons, which is not that smart). Q unleashes your super attack. The controls were great except that the game sometimes lags with some of the weapons kind of making them be useless to me (chaos launcher, sometimes the rifle) but you’ll identify them soon and I recommend you avoid those weapons. In fact, I recommend using the polearm, dual pistols, and pistol super skill all the time. I give Controls a score of 7 out of 10. Maybe it’s just the PC version that has that problem but I think they should have tested this game a little more in development and made sure all the weapons worked flawlessly.
Graphics & Performance:
Here is a game that’s so well put together it’s almost art-like. The character drawings will remind you of playing Terranigma, Secret of Mana, and Secret of Evermore on the SNES, only more polished sort of like having the same kind of graphics as games from the Warcraft 2 era or maybe like Revenant but having much higher resolution. The game has its own style of art, sort of like a Korean anime style. I liked the drawings of the characters and cutscene drawings. For a small game this was really great, blend all that with the narration and music and you have something that is superior to the original games that inspired its style. Graphics get a score of 10 out of 10. A game doesn’t need to be 3D in order for it to be eye-candy.
Performance was nearly flawless, only having a few minor hickups that didn’t have too much of a penalty in gameplay. I give Performance an 8 out of 10. I do run a lot of stuff even while I game since I multitask work stuff a lot. You could see minor lag here and there but if you run with nothing in the background you should be fine.
The game is nearly perfect except for the few flaws that I mentioned. It feels good to have a game that makes you feel something. Feeling good in a Fallout 2, Planescape: Torment, Final Fantasy 6, and Psychonauts way is something more games should have. Remember, technology “improving” is not always a good thing. Casablanca > Transformers 3, for example. Empire Strikes Back > everything else SW that came out after, except for KOTOR and Old Republic.
This game is worth playing, at least once. Live the experience that Bastion is!