Bastion is a game indie the creation of Supergiant Games which is quite famous and reaping success. No wonder, considering the game delivers gameplaystory, music, graphics, AND a very evocative narrator’s voice.
All elements inside Bastion made in such a way that it is not only evocative, but also follows the theme and message you want to convey. The message is a lesson to accept and see the positive side of a tragedy, move onand look ahead.
In this article, we’ll break down how each element is in Bastion deliver the message and the theme. Since we’re going to cover a lot of things related to the story in this game, MAJOR SPOILER ALERT.
Story/Story – For the sake of returning to the past
You will play as a nameless child who is called The Kid. He woke up in the middle of the city of Caelondia which was destroyed by a disaster called Calamity. Without waiting, he immediately fled to an emergency base called Bastion.
You meet the Rucks the narrator. He then explained that Bastion is a magical machine that can turn back time if given enough crystal energy. In order to return to the time when Caelondia was still standing, you visit various places to collect crystals and activate Bastion.
On the way you meet Zulf and Zia from the Ura tribe, a neighboring tribe that once fought with Caelondia. Both victims of Calamity, both agree to come to the Bastion and befriend you and Rucks. But the situation changed when Zulf read the journal you found.
Calamity happened because Caelondia created a weapon of destruction to kill the Ura tribe. Infuriated, Zulf ravages Bastion and returns to Ura tribal territory. Even when you try to repair Bastion, he sends troops to destroy Bastion and kidnap Zia.
As revenge, you then come alone and kill the Ura tribe troops at their base. Realizing that you had brought disaster, Ura’s troops blamed Zulf for instigating this conflict and attacked him nearly to death.
You are then given a choice. Leave Zulf and keep going and finish off the Ura tribe, or give up all your weapons to transport and rescue Zulf.
Whatever your choice, Bastion can eventually be activated, but this time you are also given a choice. Turn back time and go back to before the Calamity happened, or fly out to find and build a new place to live. Whatever choice you make the game ends with ending scene different according to your choice.
Story Bastion showed what kind of trouble would happen when one wanted to go back in time out of reluctance move on and received a tragedy. From there you are then encouraged to accept everything that has happened and look forward.
Calamity occurs because Caelondia is reluctant to find a middle ground with Ura and prefers to exterminate them. Zulf doesn’t want to forgive Caelondia’s “sin” of wanting to exterminate the Ura tribe. Instead of looking for a middle way, he instead chose to destroy Bastion which ended in disaster for the Ura tribe’s troops.
All conflicts occur because each party does not want to forget the past and move on. Because of that, at the end of the game, the game then challenges your readiness to forgive Zulf and save him.
One last touch that completes this message comes when you finish the game and start New Game+. You will return to playing from the beginning but with weapons and upgrades that you had before.
But you still start when Caelondia is once again destroyed, and everything that happened before happens again. Even Rucks the narrator several times threw a sentence as if he had said the same sentence.
In other words, going back in time doesn’t prevent Calamity. Going back in time only makes the same havoc happen again. Therefore, if you initially chose to activate Bastion to return to the past, New Game+ encourages you to do so even more move on.
Visual – There’s a Positive Side To All Bad Things That Happen
Most games with backgrounds post-apocalypse reveal a dark world. One of the goals is clear so that you have the motivation to improve the world.
Bastion basically also offers the same thing. The ruins around you show how beautiful Caelondia used to be. It’s just that the game doesn’t ask you to go back to when Caelondia wasn’t yet in ruins.
Instead of showing dark colors, the ruins of Caelondia are shown in colors and shapes that are still beautiful. Indeed, Caelondia was a beautiful place before the Calamity happened. But even after Calamity happened, this place still has its own beauty that deserves to be appreciated.
When interviewed, Supergiant Games Art Director Jen Zee also said the same thing.
“This aligns with our decision to show that there is still beauty in the world post apocalypse… I want to show you something more refreshing by showing that you can still find beauty and meaning even in a world that’s already broken.”
Gameplay – When Everything Leaves the Violence
How to get crystals to activate Bastion very simple. Destroy everything that tries to get in your way. Whether it’s inanimate objects or living things you will finish off with the weapons you carry.
In Bastion, violence is a manifestation of the inability to accept tragedy. You as a player use brute force to activate Bastion to return to the past.
The enemies you face are the same. The wild animals you meet use violence to protect or give back what they have after being left homeless by Calamity. Ura’s forces use force because they are reluctant to forgive Caelondia.
For most of the gameplay, all interactions in the game are synonymous with violence. The only moment where violence isn’t used is when you choose to save Zulf.
Choosing to save Zulf is a sign that you forgive his actions in trying to destroy Bastion. The Ura troops who initially resisted also realized and forgave you.
In that one moment, both parties decided against violence. Both parties decided to forget the past and look forward. The Ura Tribe let you go with Zulf and clean up, while you activate Bastion and (should) find and build a new place to live.
Bastion teaches that in life, you may experience tragedy and lose something of value. When that happens, you may feel sad, disappointed, or annoyed. But in the end you have to accept reality and move on.
Trying to return what has been lost will bring nothing and instead make you destructive, either to yourself or to everything around you. This applies to everything, including leisure activities like playing games. When you lose, the best thing for you to do is evaluate yourself and focus on the next match, not blaming your opponent or the game you are playing.
Whatever happens, always look forward.