The Good: Unique narrative, visual, and beautiful soundtrack, combat is deep, responsive, and fun, enemies are challenging and vary greatly, lots of things to do
The Bad: Can be very difficult in spots, some proving grounds are nearly impossible to beat, only lasts about 7 hours
One thing that Bastion does differently from most games is the strong and unique narrative. A man narrates the boy's every step and action in Bastion and this is a very interesting way of telling a story. It's like you're playing an interactive story book especially since it looks like one too. You are trying to re-build The Bastion which is a safe spot to run from The Calamity and throughout the story you find out what this is and why this boy is trying to find these shards to build this thing. Rucks (the narrator) guides you through the story as it unfolds, so you don't know anything until it actually happens like a story book, but it's happening while you're doing it.
With the excellent narrative aside the combat is top notch and responsive. You can use a regular attack, special attack, block, and a projectile weapon. There are plenty of weapons and you can upgrade them to add different attributes and bonuses. As you progress through the game you unlock six different areas which include an arsenal to swap weapons, a forge to upgrade your weapons, a shop to buy upgrades and special powers, a shrine to make the game harder, and an "achievement" area where you can meet requirements for extra shards (in game currency). The customization and upgrades are deep and will keep you busy for a long while thanks to the proving grounds which are unique challenges for each weapon. If you meet certain criteria you get prizes based on your performance. These are not easy by any means and a few were almost impossible to beat for me.
Combat is very responsive and challenging. The enemies are quick, smart, and vary from stationary, fast moving, slow moving, heavily armored etc. I should probably say that the balance is perfect and you slowly get introduced to tougher enemies as the game progresses. You really have to use a combo of everything to stay alive because you will gulp health tonics constantly if you don't use block and dodge a lot so stay on your feet. The action gets hectic and you start realizing this game is for hardcore action fans and not the casual gaming crowd that the visuals might seem to cater to.
There are a lot of levels and the length varies from 5 minutes to 15, but one thing I can't get over are the visuals. As you run through the levels the walkways appear under you and seem to float in the air. The levels vary so much and not a single one looks the same. The hand drawn visuals are just gorgeous, plus you can't forget about the amazing soundtrack that is something you stick on your MP3 player and listen too. This feels like a high budget game, but only an indie game can deliver something on this side of creativity and originality. Bastion is a unique game and nothing is quite like it in terms of narrative and visual deliverance. Every action fan should own this, because it's $15 well spend.