When the protagonist in Bastion, known simply as The Kid, wakes up, the world outside his bedroom has vanished. Each step he takes restores a small bit of his homeland, Caelondia, while a narrator comments on his every action. Eventually he makes his way to Bastion, a safe zone where a few other survivors have gathered, and learns about the Calamity that ruined his world.
The Kid's education requires venturing out into the world to recover shards, which are used to rebuild Bastion's central monument. The floating dungeons are filled with whimsically named beasts like gasbags and anklegators, as well as a dozen or so increasingly powerful weapons, most of which can be upgraded. While the combat is fairly straightforward, the levels are lushly illustrated, and the controls are smoothly precise.
Composer Darren Korb's soundtrack, which he calls "acoustic frontier trip-hop," is a welcome departure from the orchestral bombast that usually accompanies role-playing games. And the narration, which reminded us of Sam Elliott's cowboy in "The Big Lebowski," is quite effective.
We don't want to give away too much of the story, but it takes on some issues like remorse, redemption and forgiveness that big-budget games typically neglect. Late in the game, you're asked to make some tough choices.
RATING Everyone 10 and older
PLOT A post-apocalyptic trip to a "safe zone"
DETAILS Xbox 360, $15
BOTTOM LINE Riveting