Bastion ($4.99) by Warner Bros. brings the award-winning action RPG home to your iPad. If you haven’t yet experienced this masterpiece of a game on your PC or Mac, now is the perfect time. There’s been a lot of acclaim for this game, and since this was my first time playing it, I can finally see why.
In Bastion, you take on the role of The Kid, who finds himself in the aftermath of an event called the Calamity and never utters a word. You are one of the only survivors, though you will meet a few along your journey of exploring a broken Caelondia. The Kid will have to go through various floating areas in search of crystal cores to bring back to Bastion, the place that everyone was supposed to go in troubled times. Since Bastion was also affected by the Calamity, you will have to rebuild it using the cores. Eventually, you will find an old man named Rucks, who is also the game’s narrator.
If you are looking for an immersive RPG experience with a fantastic plot and powerful storytelling, then this is simply the game you have to get. Rucks will reactively narrate the entire game — your actions will be reflected in the narration, and sometimes he will even offer some useful advice for what to do next. The narrating is one of the best parts of the game and adds to the storytelling aspect very well. You will also wish that Rucks could narrate your life.
The visuals in the game are stunning, with all of the hand-painted artwork looking fantastic on Retina display iPads. The artwork is one of the biggest selling points of Bastion, since it’s completely unique. Additionally, the soundtrack is one of the best I’ve ever heard; an absolute must-listen.
If you’re wondering how the port translates from a computer to the iPad, I can assure you that it works very well. The iPad-specific touch controls allow you to tap anywhere on the screen to make the Kid walk to a spot, or you can keep your finger on the screen to make him move continuously. Tapping on the screen with two fingers will make him perform an evasive roll.
If you are using a melee weapon, he will attack automatically when he is near an enemy. If a ranged weapon is equipped, he will automatically lock on and fire at nearby targets. You can change between your two equipped weapons with the button in the top right corner, block with the shield button at the bottom, and use your secret skill with the button in the bottom left corner. Interacting with other characters or the environment can be activated by tapping on the subject.
If you prefer classic controls, they can be toggled in the game options. This will bring back a virtual joystick on the left for movement, and all of your action buttons will appear in the bottom right. The attack button will change to an action button when you need to interact with something. The joystick can be used anywhere on the screen, so it’s not fixed in one spot. It makes navigation a lot easier.
As you play, you will find fragments by defeating enemies and breaking objects in your surroundings. You will also earn experience points to level up, allowing you to gain access to more skills and upgrades. Mementos can be hidden in the areas you visit as well, and they can have an important piece of the story behind them, so make sure to be on the lookout for those. Progress will be saved automatically whenever there is a gear on the loading screen. There will be several buildings that you will have access to, with each serving a different purpose.
The Distillery allows you to store various spirits that will grant you passive abilities to help you in battle. Weapons and secret skills are stored in the Arsenal, where you can change equipment. To upgrade your arsenal, you will need a Forge, though you have to find the upgrades first by earning them or buying them. The Lost & Found will have various upgrades, secret skills, and spirits available that you can buy for your collection. Idols in the Shrine will have different affects on the game (can help or hurt you) but give the player rewards, so they are beneficial to use. A Memorial structure is also available, where you can pay your respects to the dead and even become better prepared for the future.
Each new area can be accessed via the map, and there are also “Proving Grounds,” which are mini-games that are designed to hone your skills with particular weapons. If you are able to meet the requirements of the different Proving Grounds, you can earn up to three prizes in each. Game Center is integrated into Bastion for leaderboards and there are 21 achievements.
I’ve been playing Bastion since the moment it was made available in the U.S. App Store, and I am finding it quite hard to put down. I believe that this is becoming one of my favorite games of all time — it’s just that good, and deserves all of the praise that it has received. The story is deep and compelling enough to keep your attention, and Rucks is like the new Morgan Freeman. The combat is fun, the visuals are fantastic and some of the best I’ve ever seen, and the music is some of the most captivating you’ll ever hear in an iPad game.
Considering that the Windows and Mac versions of Bastion are $14.99 on Steam (and the Mac App Store), you are really getting a bargain with the iPad version, which is priced at only $4.99.
So what are you waiting for? Stop reading and go get this amazing action RPG right this instant.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to continue my game …