Bastion: Play through In Review

I completed my play through of Bastion in about 6 hours of playtime that included leaving some idols on, doing a couple proving grounds, and experiencing the awesomeness of “Who Knows Where” a couple times. I will note that this article contains spoilers; you’ve been warned. The soundtrack was amazing, the voice overs hauntingly intriguing, and the emotional impact high.

There’s a good possibly that I place a bit too much importance on music in games; being a musician will do that I guess. The soundtrack to Bastion was so good I was humming it in the shower after my workout this morning. It’s quite sparse in a lot of ways, but that just adds to the feeling of a desolated world trying to put itself back together. The slow building of the orchestration and instrumentation mimic that which is being played, which just adds to the feeling of progression that the games provides. At one point they made some of the sheet music available and given how amazing the songs on the soundtrack are I’ll be using that as the basis for my next round of trombone arrangements. That’s how good the music is in this game.

One of the features that caught me as truly innovative was the narrator; he even mentioned that I was just idling killing terrain, “raging a bit” over what had happened! The realization at the end of who is talking to and in what context is also quite awesome, it even influenced my decisions at the end of the game. The narration the first time I went in to “Who Knows Where” changed a lot of my feeling and attitudes toward Zia as well; it’s the main reason I evacuated at the end instead of just leaving it all to possibly happen again.

Speaking of “Who Knows Where” it was the turning point in the game for me. Going from action adventure game to an immersive game that happened to be an action adventure RPG. From there on out I was fighting for someone, for people, to find out what the truth was. A little while later I encountered Zulf who had sent some people to attack The Bastion; because I was quite tired at that point my poor Squirt died…I didn’t realize how attached I was to the little bugger until the awesome narrator told me he didn’t make it. I was heart broken and pissed that my little friend had died; and felt it was all my fault! From there I woke up a bit more and decided to push through and punish the bastard who had sent people to not only kidnap the girl, but to kill my friend. My rage was only enforced by the music, getting more and more epic with every level and layer added on. Then something happened; Zulf was on the floor, and I didn’t do it.

Seeing the man who was fueling all my rage impacted me in a very odd way; knowing that the people around him were technically Zia’s and had no desire for peace made me feel sorry for Zulf in a way. So I picked him up and slowly trudged to the exit, awash in so many emotions that it was odd to feel a sense of pride, of being the hero not leaving anyone behind. When I got back, and Zia went through all her comments about being together if we just evacuated, and knowing that Squirt wouldn’t be coming back no matter what I did, the choice was obvious: don’t let Squirt die in vain, don’t ditch the girl. And so we evacuated, ending an amazing journey that was more touching than any other game or movie in recent memory.

2013 Gaming Backlog

As any good gamer who spends some money helping out people that are willing to be in the Steam Holiday Sale I have a large backlog of computer, console, and (not related to Steam) board games. For the last couple years I’ve been putting things like playing music, leaving the house, spending time with my wife and cats, and other such things ahead of gaming. What gaming time I did have was going to MMO’s and other competitive games. At this point in time I’m getting less satisfaction from those games types and more from picking up the controller connected to my tower, or booting up my PS3 to see what is free this month, playing those games for a few minutes to make some progress and get on with my day. Before the giant list is created I’d like to talk about what getting through a backlog means for me.

When I go to play a game it’s not always about “beating” the game; more than likely it’s about enjoying the game. Some games I play just for the mechanics (RTS, Rogue-like, some FPS, sports, racing), some for the story (RPGs, action or turn based), some for the unified experience, some for nostalgia, or just to check out what every one else has been talking about. There’s definitely a set of games that can’t really be beaten at all, things like city simulators or online only games. Then there’s some games that are really just about a single gimmick and once you’ve mastered it the game becomes either lifeless or you finally get to enjoy the game and not struggle with the gimmick. All that to prep this statement: this isn’t a list of games I want to beat, just a list I want to enjoy. It’s taken me a long time to get to understand that idea; I’ve spent most of my life in the “must beat everything on the hardest difficulty” camp.

With that out of the way, here’s the list! Many of these games I’ve started but had to abandon half way through (Borderlands, Trine, and the Valve games are the biggest culprits of that). In a future article I’ll talk about MMO and MOBA goals, and in another one I’ll touch on time management to get all of this done, work, go out with my wife, and play bass trombone three days a week!

2013 Backlogged Video Games to Play List in No Real Order: