Game Reviews

Bastion - The old ones aren't always the best

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First published: | Updated:

| Bastion
Bastion - The old ones aren't always the best
| Bastion

The fact that Bastion is only coming out on Vita now is a brutal indication of how far the mighty handheld has fallen over the last few years. The game is actually older than Sony's handheld.

We reviewed the iOS version back in 2012 and gave it a deserved Gold Award, for the high quality content on offer and the intuitive way it made use of touch-screen controls.

So you can imagine why we felt the potential for a Vita port was huge, that this could be the definitive edition of a classic game.

Instead though, the experience has been nothing short of a tremendous let-down.

Calamity Kid

The biggest surprise is that Bastion on Vita doesn’t make use of touch. There’s no way to change that in the settings either.

Considering the success of the tablet and mobile versions of Bastion, this omission is completely perplexing.

Bastion clearly works well this way, but apparently the Vita - with its front-facing and rear-touch-pad - doesn’t need to entertain the idea because it has buttons.

Not that there's anything wrong with controlling Bastion with buttons. The crossbow here feels solid, whereas on touch it lacked impact.

The flow and tempo of the game is also very different. The mobile versions require you to tap your screen to move, and are completely reliant on auto-aim

Based on that style of play, Bastion felt fresh. Touch reinvigorated the aging indie, breathing new life into it and encouraging another playthrough.

Unfortunately, this Vita version feels a little slapped together.

Where they said you’d be

Despite all that, it remains an excellent game. You're still fighting Windbags, Gasfellas and Scumbags, listening to the deliciously dulcet tones of Logan Cunningham and getting all the additional extras that have been developed for the game, like No Sweat Mode and Leaderboard support.

The Vita version also benefits from both Cross Buy and Cross Save functionality with the Playstation 4, so any progress you make on your daily commute or on the commode can be enjoyed on a bigger screen at a later date.

It also means one purchase nets you the game on both formats. Which is nice. But while it is wonderful to relive Bastion on Playstation 4 with sharper visuals and crisper sound, the experience is a poor accompaniment on handheld.

The Vita's screen does allow the game to shine and sparkle in all it's dazzling glory, though the frame-rate really suffers when the action gets fast and furious.

Likewise, the sound seems rather tinny and full of echoes unless you're using good quality headphones.

Using the stiff D-Pad to navigate menus also feels like a chore, as the game refuses to allow you to use the analogs or touch for ease or convenience.

All too safe house

We would have loved to have been given a choice between classic controls and touch interface. We also feel there was huge potential for a harmonious marriage between buttons and touchscreen, yet both opportunities have been squandered.

We're left with a thrown together port that - admittedly - does work well as a handheld title with pick-up-and-play properties, but could have given us so much more.

If you've somehow still not played Bastion then you'll find yourself immersed in its narrative direction, role-playing techniques, bold and brazen action, and well-honed mechanics.

Consider another platform to set off on your adventure, though, as both the tablet and home console versions handle Bastion so much better.

If you purchase on PS4, you'll get this version for free anyway, and can at least satisfy any surging curiosity. Just don't be surprised if you come away disappointed.

Bastion - The old ones aren't always the best

Bastion remains a fantastic game, but Vita is not a fantastic place to play it.
Ray Willmott
Ray Willmott
When not objecting to witnesses in Phoenix Wright or gushing over Monkey Island, Ray does social things for Steel Media. He also pretends to look like Han Solo in his profile picture.