Bastion: A Charming Action RPG
Bastion is an indie action RPG, but what makes it stand out is its presentation. First, the world is shown in an unusual way. When you begin each level, which you access from a hub world, only a small section of the level will exist. As you walk, the world is gradually formed. This adds a mild sense of exploration to fairly linear levels, since you won’t know what is ahead until you approach it.
Second, the game is fully narrated. The Narrator, while not quite a character, tells the entire story. This means your actions are narrated, along with the story.
These two features set Bastion apart from similar action RPGs. Its core gameplay is simple in design, but fairly customizable. You can equip two different weapons and perform special attacks, picking different combinations depending on your playstyle. This allows you to either experiment with different styles or stick to your favorites.
The difficulty can also be altered through the use of idols, and if you find the main campaign of Bastion too easy, there are challenges to complete as well. In particular, there is a series of arena-like challenge levels where you stand against waves of enemies while the Narrator reveals more story details. For the fullest understanding of Bastion’s story, you’ll want to complete the challenges.
All of these features can be accessed from the hub world, the Bastion, which grows and expands as you progress through the story.
Bastion’s story is short, but filled with emotion, set in the aftermath of a disaster called the Calamity. It follows not only the player character, called simply “the Kid,” but also the characters he encounters along his journey. Personally, the story did not stand out to me as much as its presentation did, but I understand why its themes—and especially its ending—leaves many players discussing it long after they’ve finished.
Bastion has an enjoyable art style and pleasant music which match its storytelling. The addition of the Narrator, as well as the level design, come together to make it stand out above what it would otherwise be. If you’re a fan of action RPGs, and you want to enjoy a short adventure that will leave you with themes to consider, Bastion is worth a look.