Wilderness Games and Bastion's Sheer Solitude

05 May 2012

The folks at Gamer's Guide To Life clearly think highly of Supergiant Games' action-RPG Bastion, enough for them to write an enthusiastic editorial on how the game manages to convey a sense of loneliness through its narrative, music, art design and gameplay. Here's a snip:
Perhaps my favourite element that Bastion uses to convey loneliness is its music. The soundtrack blends electronic and hip-hop elements with acoustic and electric guitar, with a composition that aims for an Old West, Frontier-esque feel, and leaves you with the impression that The Kid is wandering through a feral world, surviving by his own wiles, much like the classic Western heroes of old. In a way, he is.

Yet, even more than conveying an impression of the untamed West, the music hints at a sense of emptiness and an absence of hope. Many of Bastion's songs have a bluesy structure to them, or are sparse in their instrumentation, conveying a sense of sadness and emptiness, and making you, the player, feel as if you're the only one you can trust amidst the desolation.

...

Nearly as enjoyable as the music is Rucks, the narrator. As The Kid slashes, shoots, and scrapes his way through the ruins of Caelondia, Rucks provides a running, second-hand commentary on the action. Rucks' sparse, fragmented speaking-pattern describes The Kid's actions at arm's length, always talking of the action in an active voice, but never becoming more involved than a basic description. Rucks talks about The Kid as though he weren't even there, turning a potential spot for camaraderie into another distancing element. Listening to Rucks calmly describe the monsters and their motivation amidst heated combat creates a chilly sense of separation.