Bastion – The Next Step in VG VO

Bastion is not a new game, it’s been around for maybe a year now. I bought it off Valve’s STEAM marketplace during a sale and I haven’t finished it yet. So don’t spoil it for me.

The game’s controls took me a bit of getting used to because of the weird perspective. Bastion has won numerous awards here and there. For the beauty of the gameplay, the storyline and the graphics.

They were good, but obviously the thing that piqued my attention… was what they’ve done with the VO.


The Narrator

I could write a few paragraphs of praise for the work Logan Cunningham has done. I think the only way one can fully appreciate his work is if he plays the game and sees how well the integration between game mechanics and VO was constructed.

The truth is that the true phenomenon behind Bastion is the idea itself. To have a narrator follow you around and narrate your actions, explain to you bits of the backstory, give you possible gameplay hints, all wrapped up in the guise of character narration.

The idea of narration in a game isn’t new. The way that one applies the narration isn’t new either. It’s all been more of the same really. The idea of applying to Video games what was applied to Movies before it and to radio shows before that.

The Developer

Bastion is the product of Supergiant games and has also used the medium of voice and won awards for Best song in a game for “You Build a Wall” again not an innovation in and of itself… the first real utilization of a song made exclusively for a game was done by Valve in their award winning game Portal. The song “Still Alive”  also won Valve awards and praise for their innovative approach to gameplay. Valve tried to use the same approach in Portal 2 ending the game with another song. But at least to me where they succeeded was with the easter egg song Exile/Vilify though that is a discussion for another time.

Supergiant took it a step further and not only utilized that idea… but made the song an integral part of the game… not a gimmick. I don’t mind gimmicks personally I think they can be usefully if used correctly.

The Beginning

Where is the news here? Why write a whole article about some game that we might have never heard of from some indie developer?

Because its business. This style of gameplay narration might have started out as a gimmick idea… but to Bastion it has become an integral part of the gameplay. It is not ambiance… Music can be used to set the mood but might not be used to further the plotline the way that narration has.

In the past the only reason a VO professional auditioned for a game was for a few pages of narration. With Bastion things changed, a new door has been opened and the relationship between the world of Video Games and the world of VO just went to the next level.