Our most recent foray out into the world with the Kid resulted in a lot of frustration and the rescue of a Singer, whom we brought back to the Bastion, along with a journal.
Since I’m at the Bastion, it’s time to go talk to people. Zia (the Singer) was raised in the city, and the journal I found in the last level belonged to her father, although she can’t read it. Zulf, on the other hand, can—“he learned so much from it,” Rucks says, “Too much.” Well, that’s ominous. Rucks says that “If only I’d known half the secrets of the Calamity were tucked in that journal, I’d a’ worked a translation right away.” Also rather ominous.
I go and build the Shrine, since that’s the only thing I can build. There’s a second deity, now, a maiden bound by chains (also ominous). But, as with the bull god, any blessing I take comes with increased powers for my enemies (vengeance, in this case), which seems like a terrible idea for someone who is bad at combat to begin with, so no blessings for me.
In the wilds, the birds have taken the last core, and it’s my job to steal it from them. The stealing part is fairly easy, although I have discovered another new horrible enemy that looks like a land-bound sea urchin which throws horrid needle-spikes at me. This would not be so bad if I had a shield, but I don’t. I’d been using the shotgun, but found dual-wielded pistols (a la the original Lara Croft), which it swapped out for me, but now my “special power” is useless because it was specific to the shotgun, so I need an armory.
Let’s see if they give me one. Nope.
I still manage to get the core back to the skyway, and as I enter, Rucks says, “He’s got the final core, that means his journey’s over, right? Not by a long shot.” Oh, joy. Just what I wanted.
Rucks explains that no one was there at the Bastion to greet the Kid when he returned, since he and Zulf (and, apparently Zia) were in a “heated discussion” about the Calamity, which Zulf says “failed, but I will not.”
When Zia and Rucks return, Rucks explains that Zulf “cursed the city, cursed the Bastion, cursed me. Said he was goin’ home.” This makes me strongly suspect that Zulf was banished from “home” for being a creepy Faustian kind of person to begin with, the Icharus whose plan to do whatever—maybe destroy Caelondia—went awry. After he read Zia’s father’s journal, he “just started smashin’ up that Monument ‘til I tried to stop him,” leaving fragments of it behind.
Sadly, this is the thing into which I’ve been putting cores, so now I have to go find Shards, and Rucks says, “Sadly, we’re going to need all of them to nurse the Bastion back to health.” Please tell me there are fewer Shards than there are cores. Please.
At least I’m still exploring new spaces—like Jawson Bog, which sounds like a lovely place to go on holiday. Well, things were going quite well, no enemies, a nice, shiny Shard… and then the Kid had to go and lay down because, according to Rucks, “Too bad this place can be… intoxicating.”
And then things get real weird, real fast. It’s like a trip through all the levels I’ve already seen, only different, sometimes with creatures being friendly, sometimes not, sometimes with new creatures (like the spiky green eyeballs), sometimes with ghosts, sometimes with the world fading into and out of blackness so that if I’m not careful, I fall off the world (again). I end up back in the bar from the beginning (it pretty much goes in reverse order), and I can’t progress without “killing” the Pompeii statue of the bartender, at which point Rucks says, “Kid succeeded where the Calamity didn’t. Look at what he did to…the poor old bartender.”
Then Rucks takes us back, says the story ought to “start at the beginning,” and shows the Kid, “lying there on a rock in the sky,” before everything went wrong. “I’m just kidding. He sees the rippling walls, years of work undone in an instant. He sees what’s left of Pith, the bull. The gods have all come undone. He sees what’s left of his life-long friend”—who looks exactly like the Kid and proceeds to attack me with a large hammer—“His friend, he’s come undone, too.” By “undone,” Rucks means “dead.”
I suppose I ought to have seen the Kid as the Calamity from the beginning, if not literally, then metaphorically. That’s what I should think when I get all the necessary currency and experience form destroying not just the enemies, but the objects around me. Calamity Kid.
And then the game crashes. And when I restart, back at the Bastion before I even began this trippy level. Are you bloody kidding me?! Ugh.
Fine, this level wasn’t that hard to begin with. So I replay all THAT, then get transported to a campsite where I can’t do anything to anything except behave like an ordinary person—gather ore, pack the ore, gather wood, make a fire, go to sleep. Maybe this is meant to be commentary on the mundanity of everyday life? I’m really not totally sure at this point. It feels like someone wanted it to be Deep and Meaningful, and it’s mostly just another Thing I Have To Do to finish this game.
From there, back to the Shard in the bog, which I can now collect, then defeat some giant evil plants that look like second cousins to Audrey II, and then back to the Bastion.
I have come to the conclusion that this game isn’t so bad as long as I’m not facing too many enemies at once or in rapid sequence. I have an upgrade now that gives me more health potions, which also means that I can mitigate the inevitable pain of falling off the world. This doesn’t mean I’m liking the game, mind you, just that it’s not so bad if I can avoid some of the more difficult parts (which is why I have played exactly one challenge and will play no more).
I really hope there’s nothing else I need for the Bastion after the shards.