You can't swing a chainsaw bayonet in a video game these days without hitting a choice that has consequences for you further down the line. The last three games I completed ended in "kill him or don't kill him" showdowns, and most of the stuff on my wish list for the rest of the year will test my moral compass as much as my dexterity.

If you ask me, at some stage we are going to have to consider the consequences of our choosing nothing but games about nothing but choice and consequence. In the meantime, a game like Bastion, which blurs the line between agency and fate in new and interesting ways, is rather welcome.

Bastion is an isometric action role-playing game where you pick up the pieces after an apocalyptic event - called the Calamity - which has splintered the beautiful lands of Caelondia into floating fragments in the sky and filled them with angry critters. It's your job, as a hero known only as The Kid, to discover what happened by picking through ashes and memories with a range of increasingly devastating weaponry.

The game has two neat gimmicks. The first gimmick is that your actions are accompanied throughout by the throaty narration of a wise old man (wonderfully voiced by a chap called Logan Cunningham), who mixes soulful commentary on the tortured world around you with weary observations about The Kid's weaponry and behaviour in the game, wheezing poetry into your motion.

For the second gimmick, which you encounter right after you wake up on a platform in the sky at the start of the game, we might as well quote the old man: "The ground starts to form up under him as if leading the way. He don't stop to wonder why."

As you venture through the steampunk fantasy platforms of stricken Caelondia, the old man's commentary and the way your pathway through the clouds rises up beneath you quickly become incidental details that add depth and texture to your activities, and neither is without poignancy or symbolism.

The Kid starts the game asleep in the sky.

You can leave the contemplation for later, though, because beneath (or perhaps above) this artifice lurks simple and elegant hack-and-slash combat that requires most of your attention. Initially using a hammer, a bow, a shield and a whirling dervish style special move - your arsenal grows to encompass everything from a spear and a machete to a pair of duelling pistols and even a mortar, while special attacks include tripmines and a hand grenade - you have to hack up critters and angry flora while you hunt for six cores, pieces of rock that will restore the Bastion.

The Bastion, to which you return between levels, is the hub of your activities, and each core allows you to build a different structure to manage everything from your weapons loadout and upgrades to secondary objectives. The Kid embodies the game's aesthetic - strong, silent, with a touch of the Old West about him - and this is reflected in the things he builds and their functions, like a Distillery where you accumulate potions and liquor that act as passive modifiers in combat. Everything you touch is narrated by the old man - named Rucks - who will growl knowingly about how a whale tonic ain't made from whales, but might make you as tough as one.

Will you support Eurogamer?

We want to make Eurogamer better, and that means better for our readers - not for algorithms. You can help! Become a supporter of Eurogamer and you can view the site completely ad-free, as well as gaining exclusive access to articles, podcasts and conversations that will bring you closer to the team, the stories, and the games we all love. Subscriptions start at £3.99 / $4.99 per month.

Read the reviews policy

Sometimes we include links to online retail stores. If you click on one and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. Read our policy.

Jump to comments (56)

About the author

Tom Bramwell

Tom Bramwell

Contributor  |  tombramwell

Tom worked at Eurogamer from early 2000 to late 2014, including seven years as Editor-in-Chief.


Resident Evil 4 VR version edits out several lines of dialogue

UPDATE: Facebook acknowledges "select changes" for "modern audience".

Streamer Valkyrae faces backlash for new gamer skincare range

Protecting your skin from blue light pollution.

God of War coming to PC

Boy! Load up Steam!

Video | Resident Evil 4 in VR is a wonderful way to revisit a classic

Video and impressions from the retooled Oculus Quest 2 version of Capcom's masterpiece.

You may also enjoy...

Supporters only

Comments (56)

Comments for this article are now closed. Thanks for taking part!

Hide low-scoring comments

Buy things with globes on them

And other lovely Eurogamer merch in our official store!

Eurogamer Merch
Explore our store