The short version of this post: don’t bother reading it, read Kate Cox’s take on Bastion instead. That is the post that I wish I could have written: I could have come up with some (not all!) of the ideas there, but doing so would have felt a lot more academic to me, and I certainly couldn’t have carried it off with a tenth of the conviction.
Because, while I enjoyed playing Bastion, somehow it never clicked for me. Which frustrates me, because in the abstract I’m willing to accept that it’s probably a quite good game. Lovely art in its own distinctive style; the music was pleasant and, in some cases (Zia’s song) rather more than that; the core game play was quite solid; and the themes of the story were unexpected. Not to mention other nice touches: I particularly liked the narrator’s description of your actions, and how that subtly shifts to describing the world more broadly.
So I’m more or less convinced that my lack of appreciation of the game is entirely my fault, not the game’s: I can write the above paragraph, but it’s all a checklist, not something that comes from deeper within me. And this frustrates me! I wish I knew why it was.
Some of it may be that I’m much more focused on gameplay these days than before my year of board games / Minecraft / Rock Band 3. And I though the gameplay in Bastion was well done, no question, it just happened to not be particularly to my style, and I didn’t see it as particularly reinforcing the narrative. (Anybody want to disagree with me on that last one? I’d be curious to read a post taking the opposite point of view.) Some may just be the timing: in general (and setting aside my weekend Rock Band binges), I play video games at best every other night, and frequently while playing Bastion it was every fourth night; so it took about three weeks for me to finish the game, and I wonder if it would have made more of an impact if I’d played through the whole game over the course of a single week. Or it may be my social positioning: these are important themes, but not ones that are as close to my heart as they might be?
Or it could simply be the random vagaries of my mood; and I’m somewhat curious how I would feel about Bastion if I went through a second time on New Game+. Not curious enough to actually do so, however…
This post has not been revised since publication.