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How Bastion Teaches Us to Accept Tragedy and Move On

Bastion is a game indie Supergiant Games creation which is quite famous and successful. Not surprising, considering that the game provides gameplaystory, music, graphics, AND a very evocative narrator voice.

All elements in Bastion made in such a way that it is not only evocative, but also follows the theme and message to be conveyed. The message is a lesson to accept and see the positive side of a tragedy, move onand looking ahead.

In this article, we will describe how each element in Bastion convey the message and theme. Because we will touch on many things related to the story in this game, MAJOR SPOILER ALERT.

Story/Stories – To Return 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 narrator Rucks. He then explains 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 become friends with you and Rucks. But the situation changes when Zulf reads the journal you found.

Calamity occurs because Caelondia created weapons of destruction to kill the Ura tribe. Enraged, Zulf destroys Bastion and returns to the territory of the Ura tribe. Even when you try to repair Bastion, he sends troops to destroy Bastion and kidnap Zia.

In retaliation, you then single-handedly came and killed the troops of the Ura tribe in their base. Realizing that you are bringing havoc, Ura’s troops blame Zulf for starting this conflict and attack him almost to death.

You are then given a choice. Leave Zulf behind and go ahead and finish off the Ura tribe, or give up all your weapons to transport and save Zulf.

Whatever your choice, Bastion can eventually be activated, but this time you’re also given a choice. Turn back time and go back to before Calamity happened, or fly in search and build a new home. Whatever your choice will end the game with ending scene different according to your choice.

Story Bastion showing what kind of trouble will happen when one wants to go back in time reluctantly move on and accept a tragedy. From there you are then encouraged to accept all 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 annihilate 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. Therefore at the end of the game this game then challenges your readiness to forgive Zulf and save him.

One final touch that enhances this message is when you finish the game and start New Game+. You will be back playing from the beginning but with weapons and upgrade 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 said the sentence as if he had said the same sentence.

In other words, going back in time did not prevent Calamity. Going back in time only makes the same havoc happen again. Therefore, if you initially choose to activate Bastion to return to the past, New Game+ will encourage you to move on.

Visuals – There’s a Positive Side to All the Bad Things That Happens

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 in ruins yet.

Instead of showing a dark color, the ruins of Caelondia are shown in still beautiful colors and shapes. Indeed, Caelondia was a beautiful place before Calamity happened. But even after Calamity happened, this place still has its own beauty that deserves to be appreciated.

When interviewedSupergiant Games Art Director Jen Zee also said the same thing.

“This is in line 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 broken world.”

Gameplay – When Everything Leaves Violence

How to get crystals to activate Bastion very simple. Destroy everything that tries to get in your way. Whether it’s an inanimate object or a living thing, you will kill it with the weapon 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 enemy you face is the same. Wild animals that you meet use violence to protect or restore what they have after being homeless due to Calamity. Ura’s troops resorted to violence because they were 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 if you choose to save Zulf.

Choosing to save Zulf is a sign that you forgive him for trying to destroy Bastion. Ura’s troops who initially resisted also realized and forgave you.

In that one moment, both sides decided not to resort to violence. Both parties decided to forget the past and look to the future. The Ura let you go with Zulf and clean up, while you activate Bastion and (supposedly) find and build a new home.

Bastion teaches that in life, you may experience tragedy and lose something valuable. When that happens, you may feel sad, disappointed, or upset. But in the end you have to accept reality and move on.

Trying to get back what you’ve lost will bring you nothing and will actually make you destructive, either to yourself or to everything around you. This applies to everything, including casual activities like playing games. When you lose, the best thing you can do is evaluate yourself and focus on the next match, not blaming your opponent or the game you played.

Whatever happens, always look forward.