It seems that “RPG” is being used to describe an ever broader category of games. I still remember the day when Dragon Warrior came around and that was what a Role Playing Game was all about. You chose what actions you took based on text commands. There was no real “action”, per se, but more of a tension which left some gamers thrilled while others were more apt to pass up RPG titles in lieu of your run of the mill action adventure oriented platforms like the Zelda series. When Chrono Trigger was released for the Super Nintendo, “RPG” was somewhat transformed with action elements on top of text battles and it seems that Bastion has a lot borrowed from its older, much more superior RPG brothers.
Bastion tells that story of “The Kid”, an adventurer in search of any survivors of a large-scale calamity that claimed his home world. Upon arriving on The Bastion, The Kid discovers that it needs to be rebuilt and sets off on quests in search of “cores” which will replenish The Bastion’s life-force and bring it back to life. Each quest has a different setting and feel, however they seem to all blur together over time. It is implied that each area is its own unique setting but too many of them looks similar to previous ones. Even the enemies and various objects laying around are, for the most part, the same.
The controls are very simple, leaving basic button pushing for melee, long distance, and special weapons along with easy shielding and usage of power-ups for health. Attacks are rather basic with very little differences between each weapon class with the exception of your special weapons which can range from mirrored shields to grenades and so forth. All special weapons have pros and cons in their usage, so choose wisely before entering each area. However, if you pick up a new weapon midway through a level, you are automatically equipped with that new arsenal and can not change out of it until heading back to The Bastion or discovering an armory, which not every stage has.
The big difference that sets this apart from your every day action/adventure RPG is the narration. Voiced by Logan Cunningham, it is obvious that they went with him mainly because he sounds almost exactly like Hellboy star Ron Perlman. Though the narration is the big selling point for the game, I wasn’t all that impressed. Sure, it goes along with what The Kid is doing every now and again but, aside from that, there’s nothing really special about it. It’s almost like listening to a radio announcer for a sports event but his color commentator decided to call in sick. It was worth a shot but the game is just as good without it. There just really didn’t seem anything special about it.
Also, as The Kid adventures through levels, the ground is built up around you as you move. With the background also being highly detailed, at times it is difficult to make out what’s the path and what’s an open pit. Though falling off edges or gaps in the path does not kill you outright, it does cause damage and, in a clutch, could mean the difference between whether or not you come out of a heated battle alive.
Aiming with long distance weapons can be a pain sometimes. With much of the setting around you destructible, smashing everything in sight can sometimes lead to bonus payouts which you can use to upgrade your weapons. But, if you’re trying to hit a far off object in hopes of destroying it, zeroing in on it is incredibly tedious as there is no real aim to the long-distance weapons when The Kid isn’t scoping out an enemy.
Bastion is an entertaining title but the lack of substance can often cause a gamer to become complacent while experiencing it, knowing that every enemy and level that comes along is more than likely not going to be much different from the last. Bastion is a lot of “hack and slash” with not much actual customization behind it, aside from powering up weapons and adding certain attributes to The Kid’s load out which lack any visual difference to said weapon once equipped. Though the narration was a nice attempt at storytelling, it comes off as subpar and two-dimensional, not offering much more to the game other than the feeling you’re being watched.