How often is it that at the end of a game, when everything has been said and done, you continue to think about what happened? Not too often, but Bastion does just that. I'm not sure of what Supergiant Games set out to do with Bastion, but I can only guess that there is some deeper level of thought that went into its creation. It might seem to be a minimalist game, though not in the graphics department, but the plot develops quickly and delivers indefinitely.
The game begins after the Calamity, the aftermath of what the Calamity did is reminiscent of nuclear fallout, although the game world still remains beautiful as ever. As the Kid traverses the land, it is rebuilt before your eyes, like puzzle pieces that fall into place. The Kid wakes up from his cozy bed, and the narrator, Rucks, immediately narrates everything that happens. The problem with this is that you can interpret what's happening, minus the major events that he tells of, without his help. So sometimes his narration can simply be forgotten. The narration is really an example of superb writing, even the bits that aren't necessary are crafted with the utmost perfection.
The Kid and Rucks both hail from Caelondia, but that isn't the only nation in the game. There are also those that call themselves the Ura. Naturally, like any nation in the world, they each have their own prejudices about the other, and without spoiling the story, it is how they get along after the Calamity has torn them apart that is amazing. Throughout the game you'll learn about what each nation's culture was like before the Calamity, all the while trying to build the Bastion, the "fallout shelter" of the Calamity, with cores. You have to travel to different pieces of land across the game world to get cores, that power the Bastion, so that it may be built.
Your surroundings are constantly changing. From plenty of greenery to greenery that attacks you, and then to rocky outcroppings, but don't worry, these won't attack you. The lush, hand-drawn visuals are full of color and variety. But, don't let such bright scenery fool you, Bastion has a dark tale to tell. Much of the environment is destructible. Plants, barrels, carriages, brick walls, and much more. The Bastion is the only place where the player cannot break anything on purpose. You're often rewarded with crystals, the currency of Bastion, for destroying what's left of the objects that survived the Calamity. Potions, black tonics, and more crystals are often found after deviating from the linear path of each level, and sometimes mementos are found as well. Mementos are objects that have some meaning from before the Calamity. They show you what life was like before the Calamity, they help add perspective to the story.
The many different variations of plants that shoot from afar are plenty. They serve as distractions while the close quarters enemies, such as windbags, attack you. This can all get very overwhelming, but luckily, the Kid has a few advantages. The most obvious advantage is his choice of weaponry, which is enough that you'll be able to find at least two weapons that suit your play style, if not more. The game uses a two-weapon system, instead of a scroll-wheel system where all weapons are available. This doesn't take away from the fun, however, it just forces you to adapt to your weapon choices. There are plenty of upgrades for each weapon, but don't expect to upgrade them all, so choose wisely.
In addition to the weapons, there are Secret Skills, which often make use of one of your weapons and gives them a special ability for a short time. Then, there are spirits. No, these are not your ancestors in drink form, these are drinks that give you special abilities, so long as you equip them. These abilities do not wear off, and when combined with certain weapons, can deliver devastating effect to an enemy on the receiving end. They do more than hurt your enemies though, so mix and match and see what works for you. But what are weapons without defenses? The only form of defense you'll find in Bastion is the Kid's shield. It deflects near anything, and can counter opponent's attacks to stun or hurt them.
The combat comes off as shallow at first, but it does gain some depth. Although, not a lot. It's got solid mechanics, especially because you can adapt the combat to your play style so well, but also because the game controls precisely. Don't expect to be thrilled with the fighting though, the depth only comes from the variety of weapons and their upgrades, fighting your enemies remains the same almost the whole way through, even with the bosses. It's the combination of blocking, countering, and secret skills that forms the complexity of the combat, but that's about as complex as it gets. If the combat doesn't amaze you, then the proving grounds will be tough to get through. The proving grounds are places that reward you for your skill with each weapon in the game. Each proving ground has three prizes to be earned, and different challenges to be completed. They are essentially mini games that aren't too fun, and just a little frustrating at times. Some of the hardest fighting in the game, however, originated inside the Bastion. There are stages that you can pass where you fight a ludicrous amount of enemies. At the end of each stage, the result is Rucks telling you something that adds to the story. These sequences are optional however, and don't affect you negatively at all should you lose.
The sound portion of the game is splendid and original. The way the few songs of the soundtrack come back repeatedly in different areas of the game allows them to hold reminiscent value, adding further emotion to later scenes in the game where they are used. The songs unfold like flower petals until, literally at the end of the game, they reveal themselves in full bloom. They truly do carry weight as you think about all those songs have brought you through. They especially hold meaning for the Kid, so you can relate to his journey just a little better. The combination of guitar and a woman's voice in one song is great contrast for another that features guitar with a man's voice. It must be auditory genius, what with the way the music was used.
Although the combat mainly holds this game back from being a solid nine, it does deserve all the praise it gets. It starts off with minimal story and gameplay, but grows like bamboo as you progress. Bastion is a game that truly keeps on giving until the credits roll.