Sometimes games are noteworthy because they reinvent the wheel; other games simply nail the details. Bastion brings plenty of interesting and charming details while remaining a solid entry into the action rpg genre.
Bastion tells the simple story of a silent protagonist called only "The Kid". The Kid has slept right through the Calamity, an event so catastrophic that it has sundered all of Caelondia and the surrounding areas. Everyone agreed to meet up at the Bastion if times got bad, and from here the Kid sets off to put right what's left of the world, and rebuild the Bastion's various shops and shrines that will assist you in your journey.
What I really enjoyed most about the story was how it let you discover and piece together the history and culture of Caelondia. There is no text crawl information dump explaining what happened in 13th in the year of Pithe. Instead, the gruff and husky narrator, expertly voiced by Logan Cunningham, fills you in with tidbits and details as you explore and collect memorable items from the old world. His comments on everything from your weapon selections to simple tidbits like "sometimes a look says it all" when you attempt to talk to him without any items to discuss really breathes life into the world. You will eventually learn exactly what happened and will be faced with some emotionally satisfying, thoughtful decisions near the end of the game. My only wish was that these could have been incorporated sooner and more fully throughout the game, as the two that you will make occur rather suddenly right at the end.
That isn't to say that you won't make any choices throughout the game. The gameplay of Bastion is filled to the brim with them. You start the game with only your trusty hammer, but you'll steadily add more and more weapons to your arsenal. You'll have access to everything from long range mortars and rifle carbines to pseudo flamethrowers and spears . You'll have to whittle your selection down to two weapons in the field, but the sheer variety allows you to mix and match to suit your individual style. I liked to mix it up from time to time, but I always would eventually come back to my ever sharp machete and flame-throwing fire bellows. Each weapon can be customized at the Forge, and every upgrade level is split between two different bonuses. You could, for instance, decide to go with faster reloads instead of increased magazine size for your Fang Repeater. If you change your mind you can always swap between them back at the Forge, and I really liked that you're given a lot of freedom to experiment with what works best for you.
You'll definitely need to upgrade your weapons for the Proving Grounds. Each weapon has its own area and task to complete, and you'll unlock rewards for doing well. First place always unlocks a new secret skill for the weapon so there is certainly incentive to complete the challenges. Don't make my mistake of continually trying a challenge over and over, always just shy of missing that coveted first place. It wasn't until I finally gave up and returned to the Bastion that a loading screen tip said I should upgrade to make it easier. My one complaint in the weapons and skill department is that when you find new ones the game automatically swaps them in for what you are carrying. Now often times the weapon you are receiving is the best tool for the job at the time, but it can be a little annoying to break up the combination you had going or lose access to your secret skill because it was tied to the weapon that got booted. Fortunately, there will sometimes be an arsenal later in the level if you really need or want to switch back.