home Games Reviews, Latest News, Playstation 4 Bastion PS4 review – talk about pretty

Bastion PS4 review – talk about pretty

Bastion (PS4) - pretty good

Bastion (PS4) – pretty good

One of the most beautiful Xbox Live Arcade of the last gen finally comes to a PlayStation format, and it hasn’t lost any of its magic.

Whenever experienced developers break away from an established company to form their own studio it’s always interesting to see what kind of game they make first. It’s usually either a clone of what they were working on before or the complete opposite. Many of the team at Supergiant Games used to work on the Command & Conquer series at EA, so to judge by this we’d imagine a lot of them couldn’t wait to leave.

The break from the past hasn’t been total, since the overhead isometric view is occasionally reminiscent of the more recent real-time strategies, but the gameplay shows a desire to mix the best of Western and Japanese style action role-players – and the resultant fusion is often very special indeed.

Bastion was originally released on the Xbox 360 almost four years ago now, and this belated release on PlayStation 4 is identical in everything except resolution. We’re not sure what the wait was for, but since follow-up Transistor was PlayStation and PC only we assume Supergiant were simply waiting for an exclusivity clause to run out. But it was worth going back to, as Bastion already seemed timeless the day it was released.

Many of the game’s most striking innovations become evident in the first few seconds: not just the gorgeous painted backdrops but the fact that your entire adventure has a dedicated narrator. Everything you do and see is commented upon by your omnipresent chronicler, his gritty narration ranging from explaining – or at least hinting at – the back story of the world, to discussing items you’ve picked up, and making jokes when you die (‘Of course that’s not what happened’).

Bastion (PS4) - city on the edge of forever

Bastion (PS4) – city on the edge of forever

We can’t go into too much detail on the plot or that’d spoil everything, but you begin the game by waking up in bed – trapped in the remains of a bedroom apparently suspended in mid air. Walking outside walkways and other rooms form under you, as the narrator begins to talk about ‘The Calamity’. Although it’s not initially clear what this means the end result is that the game’s fantasy world has been shattered into tiny monster-infested islands.

At first, the most natural comparison is Diablo (a game that was probably unknown to most console gamers back in 2011), not just because of the viewpoint but also the addictive loot-obsessed combat. But older gamers will also recognise 16-bit era Japanese role-players such as Secret Of Mana and Landstalker as obvious points of reference.

Your arsenal of weaponry is substantial from the start, encompassing a hefty mallet, primitive machinegun, and a magical bow. A shield completes the initial set, but by the end of the game you’re able to remonstrate with bad guys using everything from a machete to a mortar cannon. As you might imagine all can be upgraded and a range of special moves adds both variety and tactics.

The focus of your struggle is restoring a hub area, the titular Bastion, to its former glory. As you progress though the game you’re able to construct buildings on it that allow access to everything from a weapon upgrade shop to a distillery for potions. Other survivors are also returned to the same area, as you slowly begin to piece the world back together.

Everything looks, sounds, and plays great but the truth is the combat does get repetitive, and it’s all there really is to the gameplay. Traditional puzzles are rare and as entertaining as the fighting is the rest of the game is so intriguingly constructed you can’t help but feel there should be more to it.

Bastion (PS4) - it talks a good fight

Bastion (PS4) – it talks a good fight

Eventually you realise that as clever as the narration is it doesn’t really do anything but stave off the sense of gameplay déjà vu that would otherwise have been obvious much earlier. Although they always look interesting the opposite is usually true of most enemy’s actions, with few needing any particularly involved thought or skill to bring down.

Especially given the detail of the narration the game’s six hour running time is impressive and we were certainly never actively bored. For the committed there’s also a New Game+ mode that lets you continue levelling up and learn more about the game world, but as with Transistor this is a victory of style over substance – and we don’t think Supergiant would pretend otherwise.

We know several people who consider Bastion to be one of their favourite games of the last generation, and certainly if you like Transistor you’ll love this. After all, style over substance isn’t necessary a criticism – just an indication of the game’s priorities. And while you may get bored of Bastion’s combat after just a few hours you’ll remember its beautifully told story for years.


In Short: The combat might never feel as clever as the visuals and narration but this is still an engrossing and distinctive action role-player.

Pros: Gorgeous artwork and the narrator is spookily accurate in his comments. Excellent customisation options and an intriguing story.

Cons: There’s some variety to the combat, or at least the weapons, but little real depth. Disappointing enemies and boss battles.

Score: 7/10

Formats: PlayStation 4 (reviewed), Xbox 360, PC, PS Vita, and iOS
Price: £11.99
Publisher: WB Games
Developer: Supergiant Games
Release Date: 8th April 2015 (PSV TBA)
Age Rating: 12

Email gamecentral@ukmetro.co.uk, leave a comment below, and follow us on Twitter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.