Bastion is not a new game, but it’s not old, either. First released all the way back in the summer of 2011, it is a prime example of the viability of the Switch as a platform for third party and indie developers, in addition to Nintendo’s much more open policy about games on their digital store (which we at Nintendeal applaud greatly!).
Developed by SuperGiant Games, Bastion is an isometric brawler much in the same vein as Diablo, but with the focus directly on a deep single player experience. You take control of your avatar, known only as “the Kid” and fight your way through post-apocalyptic, yet colorful levels on a quest to save your world.
The Kid controls extremely well, moving quickly, with good dodging ability. Having just come off of a long stint with the new Switch version of Diablo III, I can’t help but notice the similarities, and that’s a very good thing. The enemies are varied, there is an assortment of weapons and upgrades, and you can customize your passive abilities with different tonics, gaining health boosts, a wider range of material pickup, and more. These design choices allow you to play on your own terms and in your own style.
SuperGiant pulled out all the stops with Bastion. The art is spectacular, yet still visually accessible and functional in the pseudo-3D environment. The most notable feature of the visual design however, is both a clever technical workaround, and fascinating aesthetic.
As you move the Kid through the levels, the floor/ground literally rises to meet your feet out of the ether. It lends a sense of suspense and mystery to what lies ahead, and really keeps your eyes trained on what’s happening to the Kid in the moment.
It also, in 2011, was a way for the developer to cram in way more detail than that generation’s platforms could handle, but not having to continuously scroll into new areas. We’ve all experienced pop-in, this is deliberate pop-in that adds to the gameplay experience and visuals, as opposed to distracting from it.
This choice is moot for a game of this style from a power standpoint today, but it’s still interesting to note how developers achieved what they did, even less than 10 years ago. The upshot is that the visuals have aged extremely well, and Bastion can stand proudly alongside any current indie action title.
Here we come to it. The singular standout feature of Bastion, that grabbed my attention back in 2011 when the game launched, and still captivates me to this day: the dynamic narration. You’ve probably played a game with some sort of dynamic narration in the last several years, but Bastion’s is in a class all its own.
Imagine a hardened Jeffery Wright in a fantasy old-west setting (…oh wait) speaking mysterious but relevant one-liners about your actions as a player. Die in a careless way? Receive a gentle chastisement. Succeed at a difficult task? Self-assured compliments abound. It adds an entirely different and compelling feel to the story and gameplay, and was what totally hooked me and drew me into the game. You do end up meeting this character, but he continues to narrate the game afterwards. The music is notable for being excellent as well, but the composer knew enough to stay out of the way of the voice-over.
Whether it be 2011 or 2019, Bastion is one heck of a ride. The pacing, beautiful setting, familiar gameplay, and unique narration make this a must-play experience for any Switch owner. If this title ever caught your eye, or you’re coming to it for the first time, check this one out with confidence. The Kid’s got your back.
Charlie’s first attempts at gaming did not go well. Repeated, failed run-ins with the first Goomba in Super Mario Brothers 1 plagued his maiden gaming voyage. Undaunted, he would go on to become an avid gamer of all platforms, with Nintendo always sitting atop the highest pedestal. Except for that Halo 3 incident in 2007. We don’t talk about it. It never happened.
Currently, Charlie enjoys playing games on as many platforms as he can get his hands on, with current favorites being the Switch, 3DS and Neo Geo. When he’s not playing games, Charlie is a live sound engineer and manager for his production company, Clear Harmonies, based in Washington, D.C.
Charlie enjoys talking about games nearly as much as playing them, and loves meeting new people, so hit him up!
Plays: All of them games. Seriously.