Bastion Review: One of the Most Immersive RPG Experiences Ever to Hit iPad and iPhone
For Supergiant Games, the question of what to do after Bastion saw wild success in the Xbox Live Arcade and on computers was probably pretty obvious—bring it to the App Store, where its dynamic visual environments, engaging combat system, and superb sound design might reach new heights. Would it be difficult for Supergiant to top the industry accolades that were heaped on their action RPG during its earlier days? Sure, but they’ve given themselves one hell of a shot with Bastion for iPad. Now, for just $4.99, fans of the game can use their iPads to return to Caelondia and restore the bastion, and thanks to the great work of Supergiant, the tablet is proving to be an excellent way to relive the adventure.
For the uninitiated, a fine way to introduce the mysterious, slowly-unraveling story world found here might be by looking at the textbook definition of the title.
1. Fortification . a projecting portion of a rampart or fortification that forms an irregular pentagon attached at the base to the main work.
2. a fortified place.
3. anything seen as preserving or protecting some quality, condition, etc.: a bastion of solitude; a bastion of democracy.
Thanks, dictionary.com. If the iPad app will be your first visit to Caelondia, then prepare to meet The Kid. You’ll play as this little white-haired thing who proves to be as fierce as he is silent. In every way, the story of Bastion is one that builds up around you based on your actions. But no matter what, you can trust that the narration of The Stranger will be there in your ear, using the most hard-boiled prose to explain what’s happening and what it means for The Kid and Caelondia… See, there was a “Calamity” of sorts, and it was apocalyptic in scale. This Calamity left behind an altogether shattered world that floats on air and is populated by adapted enemies. The Kid must fight through these environments in order to find “shards” of a special rock that, when returned to Bastion, can power the structure and restore a semblance of order.
Giving away any more than that would be a disservice to Supergiant, as the developers clearly put all their energy into telling the Bastion story piece by piece, and only as it’s discovered by The Kid on a player’s particular journey… The gameplay of Bastion unfolds like an action RPG. Using the classic controls (recommended for precision), you’ll have a virtual stick in the lower left of the screen, and your fire, evade, and shield buttons in the lower right. All of the levels of Bastion are viewed isometrically, so you can expect the camera to be staying focused on The Kid as you wield weapons such as the Cael Hammer, Dueling Pistols, Breaker’s Bow, or War Machete. And in true RPG fashion, everything from your weapons to your character is upgradeable, but only once you build such structures as The Forge and The Distillery.
While just about every aspect of Bastion is worthy of praise, the only complaint to be raised is in regards to the repetitive nature of the combat. There’s plenty of variety to be found in pairing up different weapons and testing battle tactics, but given the game’s auto-aiming, epic battles can sometimes amount to button mashing until the screen clears of enemies and you can go on exploring the lush landscapes. This hardly detracts from the fun of fighting as The Kid, but not much is required of the player other than pointing in one general direction and tapping fire (and maybe raising your shield once in awhile, if you feel like it).
It’s hard to know where to begin when summing up a masterpiece like Bastion. The art direction, the soundtrack, the writing, the narration—any one of those things would make an app worth downloading when done this well. It’s all made more incredible when you hear that Bastion was created by a team of just seven people… So if words like Calamity, Shards, Cores, and Caelondia are all new to you, then get ready for an iPad game that will change your expectations for RPG titles in the App Store. And if you’re wondering if this app can possibly live up to what you once played on Xbox Live Arcade, don’t waste another moment before discovering the greatness that is Bastion for iPad.
Our Score: 4.5 Out of 5