* Best Downloadable Game 2011

The 2011 Xbox Live Summer of Arcade kicks off with high expectations. First title out of the gate, Bastion, the debut action adventure game from the California developer Supergiant Games.

Stranded on a rock in the sky, "Bastion" kicks off its wonderful dream-like adventure with much fanfare and critical acclaim. On a delightful journey to the Bastion (or Bulwark by definition, ) you will lead the white-haired protagonist through an oddball land of fantasy. The first thing you will notice, aside from the striking art style is that your endeavor is being narrated. Uniquely innovative the character called 'The Stranger,' played by 'Logan Cunningham' provides instantaneous play-by-play for your actions. Called "Dynamic Narration," this smoky 'Samuel L. Jackson-eq' voice becomes your link to the world, the game mechanics and the prose. Its approach is avant-garde and a great motivator to keep you interested in the world of "Bastion."

In basics, “Bastion” is a stylized beat em' up adventure with minor role-playing elements. However, simply to call “Bastion” a beat em' up adventure is discrediting to the crafty work done to make “Bastion” feel like an original. Gracefully balanced between a traditional action/adventure game and its marvelous art style, “Bastion” is one interesting trip full of surprises. There is plenty do and see with several upgrades, unlockables and secrets to search out. Not to mention a “New Game+” feature and you're rolling in value. Truly, “Bastion” has a big game feel, an excellent attribute for a small 560 MB download.

2D sprites with that HD shine
You couldn't talk about "Bastion" any longer without mentioning its look. "Bastion" is a real eye-catcher, and even through its rooted in our perception of the past, “Bastion” is clearly powered by the tech of today. The entire project has a beautiful hand-painted 2D/HD shine that pulls out the best aspects of its “drawn” look. The colour palette really shines shifting from dark to light shades within seconds. Even though you'll see some repeated sections, “Bastion” does a remarkable job keeping the game world interesting. The most interesting feature (aside from the art style) is how the world appears right beneath your feet as you move through Bastions' void-like state. It's unique esthetic, a blending of curious meets mysterious, that keeps you guessing since you will never be sure of where you are navigating too. Hands down “Bastion” is a looker, as I am sure you can tell from the screens, but it's not a shallow “game is art” showcase, “Bastion” really pulls together a functional game while being artistic; the best of both worlds.

Before I move on past the production aspects, the score needs to be credited. The original music created by Darren Korb is superb. The soundtrack is a mellow blending of tones tries it's best to pull out some raw emotion. The acoustic work is fantastic and would be worth picking up if a soundtrack becomes available.

...and then it happened, the Calamity
The plot behind this visually impressive world is a mysterious one feature the silent-protagonist called “The Kid.” Waking up to find his world shattered from the catastrophic event called “The Calamity,” The Kid is tasked with rebuilding his fractured world by collecting various cores and shards to connect to the “foundation” of the Bastion. Along with "The Stranger" that I mentioned above, The Kids' tale constantly evolves and each layer of the mystery will be unveiled. Although don't expect “Bastion” to be a cut-and-dry type of prose, there is an underlying sense of mystery along with a few key choices to be made. “Bastion” isn't intellectually mind-blowing, but it does enough to make you care about its fantasy invigorated universe.

To build a Bastion
Rebuilding the Bastion is a level-by-level affair requiring you to get down to basics; basics being a foundation in thuganomics. Searching down each core/shard you will button mash your way until each prize is released. This is "Bastions" biggest drawback as the core combat mechanics grow tiresome. Supergiant has done their best to combat this by offering a variety of weapons to be upgraded, so no discredit to them. It's just a repeatitive feature that is really hard to avoid without adding some variety. This brings me to my next observation, the lack of puzzles. “Bastion” could have greatly benefited from more than a couple switch based puzzles. Even with all its wonder, the repeatedly slashing birds and slimes to dumb it down, gets old. More variety or even more exploration could have greatly helped to round out the experience.

Bastion grand central
The Bation itself will act as your central HUB. Here you can build new structures, upgrade your character, launch to new areas to explore and so on. "Bastion" doesn't get too deep with its inventory/upgrading system by keeping things accessible, yet deep enough to be more than your standard "adventure" game. The main RPG elements revolve around collecting marterials to upgrade your weapons, or purchasing drinks/potions to give your character a bonus. It only takes a few hours to unlock each structure to get you up and rolling. From there your free to experiment each structure like the Distillery that gives you your tasty bonuses fuelling drinks for each level. Between rounds you will probably enjoy fine tuning your character as you run between each structure.

To dream a match to the death
Along with the normal structure of level-by-level progression you can access a few dream-like sequences that masquerade as arena deathmatches. These lengthy round-based battles will test your skill and adding some much needed challenge to the game. Additionally you can increase the difficulty by heading over to the Shrine to activate different idols that increase your enemies skills. All this is wrapped up so you can earn more points, or simply be tallied up on the leaderboards for bragging rights. This addition is a nice bonus for those on their second plays who want to get the most out of their 1200 MS Points.

The Xbox Live 2011 Summer of Arcade is off to a good start with “Bastion.” Stylish, inventive and original, the small team at 'Supergiant Games' are giants when its comes to crafting an unique tale. It's no wonder “Bastion” is turning heads with its hand-painted stylization and dynamic narration features. Although stylization can only take you so far, “Bastion” looses a bit of its magical feel when the smoke clears. While it might not be perfect, “Bastion” is a solid adventure that is well worth your point investment. It's going to be a good summer.

  • dynamic narration is ingenious
  • great visual style, has its own unique look and feel
  • lots of value here. Filled with objectives, collectables and unlockables
  • mysterious tale helps provoke the player to continue
  • new game+
  • combat can become stale in long sittings
  • would have benefited from more puzzles and exploration
  • movement and targeting can be a little touchy
Quote: "The Xbox Live 2011 Summer of Arcade is off to a good start with “Bastion.” Stylish, inventive and original, the small team at 'Supergiant Games' are giants when its comes to crafting an unique tale."
Reviewed by DowntownJimmy | 07.29.11

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Warner Bros.

Supergiant Games

Action Adventure

US Release
July '11


Xbox Live Arcade

Players 1
1200 MS Points
558.46 MB