The Running Narrative: Bastion and Your Brain

Bastion comes highly recommended, although that is more for the atmospherics, visuals, and narration than the gameplay. I think of the gameplay as “Zelda,” and since I have already played Recettear and Spiral Knights this year (Spiral Knights is closer), I don’t feel a lot of drive for the gameplay, so let’s focus on the narration.

Bastion is best known for building the level around you as you go and having running narration. Whatever you do, there is some smooth-voiced dude telling it as part of the story, whether you rush blindly ahead, stand around waiting, or intentionally leap to your doom. It sounds like a story he already knows and is just recounting as you play it out, rather than something you can affect (there is a fair degree of forced linearity, so that’s easier). Interestingly, the human brain does exactly the same thing, constructing a narrative after the fact to impose a consistent story on events beyond its control or understanding. In either case, the narrator will take whatever it is given and piece something together after the fact.

And now I find myself wondering how random you can be within the game and at what point the narrator gives up on explaining things to you. I would hope that it also has something of the Left 4 Dead director to impose something on you when dramatically appropriate.

: Zubon

2 thoughts on “The Running Narrative: Bastion and Your Brain”

  1. I loved this game dearly. And, as you’ve pointed out earlier in the post, not because of the gameplay itself, (sufficient yet not unique). The game’s artistry is what pulls you in. Bastion’s story remains dark in nature and at the same time uplifting. If you haven’t finished yet bear in mind that the game offers a little replay value as well (not to ruin any surprises). I hope you enjoy the story that is Bastion as much as I did.

  2. Agreed – the gameplay was okay, but nothing special. The narration and the visual design were what made Bastion one of my favorite games this year.

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