Review: Bastion (PS4/PSV/PSTV)

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Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • PlayStation Vita

Extras:

  • PlayStation TV Compatible Yes
  • Cross-Buy Yes
  • Cross-Save Yes
  • Cross-Play No
  • Cross-Chat No
Title: Bastion
Format: PlayStation Network Download (PS4 1.15 GB) (PSV 963 MB)
Release Date: April 7, 2015 (PS4) | December 5, 2015 (PSV)
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Developer: Supergiant Games
Original MSRP: $14.99
ESRB Rating: E10+
Bastion is also available on Xbox 360, PC, Mac, Linux, and iOS.
The PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita download versions were used for this review.
A copy of this game was purchased by the reviewer.
PS Nation Review Policy

Golden Minecart Award Winner 2015
– Best RPG (PSV)

Gameplay:
Bastion was a very different kind of storytelling when it was first released on Xbox Live and later on the PC in 2011. After all these years, the story itself still stands on its own and is definitely a strong point for the game.

You wake up as the main protagonist “The Kid” on a desolate platform after the Calamity. It is your responsibility to rebuild the world after this traumatic event. The major draw for me is the Narrator-driven storytelling that was fairly new in 2011. As you progress through the game, the Narrator is there throughout and it’s a fascinating way to tell a story.

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You find yourself with your trusty hammer and battle your way through multiple areas. The combat is fluid and very intuitive. The enemies are also well thought out, and are diverse enough for you to use a little strategy in their defeat.

I never got tired of the combat once, and if I died it was my fault because I was just mashing buttons. The combat works well on the smaller screen of the Vita, so there is really no difference between the console and handheld when it comes to gameplay.

Another highlight of the game is in its variety and types of weapons. Bastion has about a dozen to choose from, and they go along with any play style, whether it’s up close and personal, far away, or even a combination of the two. The weapons are also upgradeable and adds an RPG and strategy element to the gameplay.

… bright colors jumping off of the screen …
As you progress through the ruins of the world, you come across power cores left over from the calamity. These cores help you build Bastion. This is a cool area that allows you to build buildings such as an armory or distillery to help you along in rebuilding the world. There are over half a dozen choices for you to make.

You can also find items from before the calamity, which take you into a horde mode type arena. The nice thing about those areas is that backstories of the characters you meet are tied into this idea and it’s executed well.

When you complete the game you open up Score Attack mode, which is a nice added bonus. The basic idea is to score as many points as you can while you progress through the levels again. It’s nice that this mode exists as it’s another reason to go back to this wonderful world.

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Visuals:
The art style of Bastion is unique and colorful. With bright colors jumping off of the screen, it’s a world which I would like to visit. Another idea that makes the game special is how the level builds itself as you walk along. While not entirely a new concept, it gives Bastion depth, and helps tell the tale of a broken world.

As for the technical side, I had no issues at all and it played beautifully. The only small problem with the graphics is the size of the Vita’s screen – images are naturally compressed so you miss out on some of the finer details. Other than that there is no real difference between the PS4 and Vita versions.

… a small tale told brilliantly …
Audio:
This is where Bastion was unique when it was first released. The story is superbly told by the narrator, voiced by Logan Cunningham. I was so taken aback by this approach back in 2011 and still love the idea here in 2016.

There is a lot of voice work for this title, and you can tell the care and time given to this feature. Not to be outdone by the voice acting, the incidental music is also superb and fits the world perfectly. I would suggest using headphones while playing on the Vita. The music and voice acting does not come across as clearly over the Vita’s speakers.

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Online/Multiplayer:
This game is singleplayer only with no online component.

Conclusion:
In this review I tried to keep things as vague as possible with the story elements. One of the greatest strengths in games is self discovery. That is so true with Bastion, watching the story unfold and seeing what Supergiant Games has in store for you is a big part of the game.

Bastion is a small tale told brilliantly and it’s backed up by its gameplay and audio. I would say that if it’s your first time playing, the PS4 version is the way to go. The Vita version is identical and is a great way to play through again or to tackle the Score Attack mode.

If you haven’t guessed I really enjoyed the game and I highly recommend that people try this unique and wonderful title.

Score:
8.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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