Five years after the original Xbox live release Supermassive Games grace the Playstation platforms with the award-winning title Bastion. As with follow-up game Transistor the score is sublime and one I wouldn’t mind owning just to listen to on a daily basis. The main protagonist known only as, ‘The Kid’ wakes on a floating part of the once great city of Caelondia that has been torn apart by an event called ‘The Calamity’. With little memory of what happened he turns to the first survivor he meets for guidance. Old man Rucks smoky, dulcet tones narration perfectly compliments The Kid’s adventure to save his World. You are told you will need to rebuild the Bastion if you have any chance of rectifying this crisis. For this you will need to find several cores that power a device that can regenerate everything back to the way it once was. Of course, to gain the precious items, you need to venture beyond the city to unstable fragments of land cast asunder by the cataclysm. Fortunately someone seems to have had the incredibly convenient foresight to create ‘Skyways’ to fly to each location that with each new core it becomes capable of sending you further afield.
The variety and choice in this game is really quite staggering. You are able to equip two weapons and a special ability. Each weapon can be upgraded using items found on levels or by completing specific requirements on proving ground arenas. However, your upgrade choices aren’t set in stone and you can augment to your playing style without fear of making a poor choice. What’s interesting is that some melee types like the Brusher’s Pike and War Machete have an alt ranged attack. So you aren’t entirely dependent on the ranged weapon to hit enemies that are out of reach. It also comes in handy in a pinch while your ranged weapon is reloading.
The only issue I have is that this makes some weapons completely redundant. You start with a hammer that is easily the worst in the game. It has no secondary and it’s the only one that sends you dashing forward, more often than not off one of the many precarious ledges. Which wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for the fact that falling loses a fair chunk of health. What doesn’t help is it’s not always clear where the edges of platforms are as they can occasionally visually merge with the background. As you can imagine on a Vita it’s especially tricky to navigate with the precision required. This can be frustrating early game, however, as you build your Bastion you will gain potions that give passive buffs. Of which one reduces fall damage so that ended up permanently equipped to my build. You can construct a Lost and Found where you can buy any items you may have missed on levels including this ability. Another building of interest is the Shrine; by giving gifts to the gods you are granted a boon at the price of harder difficulty. Acquiring these tokens from secondary missions you can make this game as challenging as you want.
You gain additional enemy types from each level you visit and they stack. Which makes things really tricky towards the end of the game, as you need to priorities certain enemies over others. You can defend attacks with the Bull Shield; oddly enough this is also the only way to target enemies. Possibly one of the weakest points was this seriously random targeting system. You can change targets using the D-pad, which is really awkward when you are trying to keep on the move. Be prepared to do this several times as it cycles around every enemy you don’t want to attack. There are even moments that you totally miss targeted enemies with thrown weapons simply because they’re moving slowly. I had give up on it eventually for the most part and just shoot without assistance. The enemies seem to be inspired by various platform games like the spikey eyeballs that only move and are vulnerable when your back is turned like the ghosts in Super Mario Bros. Then there’s the obligatory enemy you can only attack from behind. There’s nothing really new and yet it’s a select choice of the best enemies you’ve ever faced in other games. One of your early specials allows you to summon Squirts, the most basic of enemies, to fight alongside you. Boss battles can be completely avoided if you want as you can leave at any time, which is very different from the usual being forced to stick it out.
The overall narrative is nothing really new. It’s painting by numbers story telling with plot twists you will see coming a mile off. Yet, it’s one I walked away from and it stayed with me, as I figured out the untold story that is implied throughout. There are moments that made me laugh, like smoking a bong to enter a dream world where you had to fight waves of enemies. Even though this seemed a bit like filler it was amusing nonetheless. There are a couple of different endings and there’s a new game plus, which opens up all items and weapons. Alongside this you get a Score Attack mode so there’s some legitimate replay value to this title. The auto-saves can be a bit unclear and there’s no way to save progress manually.
Bastion is a beautiful adventure that feels so familiar like I‘ve played it all before; yet, somehow I was captivated by it from beginning to end. Bastion is the true definition of an accessible game that every gamer regardless of experience can play and that is truly fantastic. I highly recommend that PS Vita owners add this gem of a game to their collection.
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