12

The Sole Regret is the level where the boy finds his shield, and his first stone statue.

One of the levels (inside Jawson Bog I believe) is a copy of that level, with a different narrative. Instead of the good guy, the kid is portrayed as a burglar and a thief. I don't remember the wording exactly, but instead of "The Security takes him for a petty thief", the narrative makes it obvious that he is a true thief.

What is meaning of this alternate level?

I thought that its meaning was that perhaps the kid is the calamity itself, through his voyage of destruction throughout the world... however after this tiny level, I never found any other supporting evidence.

Perhaps this happened in an alternate timeline somehow?

3 Answers 3

1

Excuse the old thread bump. This level has bothered me (and no doubt others) for a long time! And I think that's intentional on the authors's part. It certainly deserves the title of Most Bizarre Level in Bastion (an exceptional game, BTW, for those who may not have played it). I will discuss The Sole Regret segment in the context of the entire Jawson Bog level.

Events that follow are foreshadowed by the narrator on arrival at Jawson Bog: "You'll get lost in that bog, I told the Kid. And I won't be able to guide you back." This is our first inkling that the narrator is not omniscient. The tone of the narrative has turned foreboding. Rucks does not refer to physically guiding the Kid, but rather guiding his mind back from the fever dream that is that is to follow, brought about by the noxious gases that Rucks knows exist in the bog. While Rucks has the power of knowing and narrating what it is taking place in the physical world, he does not have the power to see what takes place within the Kid's mind.


Closely examining the level, it carefully recapitulates areas the Kid has been through before. Each area in the fever dream is a replica of a specific previous area.

However, the fever dream copy of each area is turned upside down: what was right is wrong, and what was wrong is right:

  • Prosper Bluff - where the Kid found Zia. However in the fever dream version of the area, Zia is a Siren (an entity in classical Greek mythology whose song lures sailors to their death). She draws the Kid further into his fever dream.

  • Hanging Gardens - the area where the Kid found Zulf. This time, instead of saving Zulf, the only option is to "Surrender" to Zulf (the roles have been reversed). It is also the first time we hear Zulf's voice (or indeed any voice except Rucks). This startling development surely cannot be incidental.

  • The Bastion itself - where this time round there were other survivors: the wilds and the beasts which inhabit them.

  • The Sole Regret - once again, the Kid's past experience is turned on its head, as his actions are narrated as malevolent

  • The Rippling Walls - now things are about to get really trippy. We go right back to the start of the story, except this time, the "whole world's all right." Is that mind-bending or what? But wait, there's more. Everything else has been building up to this:

Then the Kid fights himself. If that's not highly symbolic of something, I don't know what is.

At the very end of the sequence, there are two more key events:

  • The Kid "sees... what's left... undone." So far, the Kid has been unstoppable. But now, it is apparent there is so much still to be put right (yet to be done - currently undone), it is an impossible burden. Or could the Kid be reflecting on the destruction wrought by Zulf on the Bastion ("undone" in the past participle form referring to Zulf's undoing of everything achieved in the Bastion)?

  • As the Kid falls asleep on his bedroll at the end of the dream sequence, we see perhaps the most powerful still image that appears in the game, with the kid (pictured from behind) standing strong, with hammer, atop an engraved remnant of Caelondian architecture, surveying the endless landscape of the world, in a burst of sun. The Kid is dreaming (within a dream?) but why this image?


Discussion

There are several straight-forward ways to read this level. It's certainly about the most emotionally powerful level we have so far met in Bastion.

  • It is the first time we hear Zulf's voice, and he welcomes the Kid into the upside-down, inside-out world. While this may merely be the kid's fever-dream imagination running wild, the change in narrative style is so distinct, it is clearly intentional, so we must entertain the idea that this may be the first hint that Zulf is not all he appears, and Zulf himself has drawn the Kid into this insane place and literally speaks to the kid in his dream. Alternatively, the Kid is merely imagining Zulf's voice in his dream...but this would be by far the weaker narrative.

  • The Kid's fight with himself might be most easily interpreted as representing his own inner turmoil, as he grapples with overwhelming questions and contradictions. He is going around smashing things up, while at the same time, supposedly, saving the world. Moreover, the Kid must be under an extreme level of stress after all that has happened, with no end in sight. Who would not have nightmares about that level of responsibility?

  • A psychoanalytic perspective might see the dream sequence as the Kid's unconscious mind reconciling all he has been through - with the final powerful image silhouetted against a sunburst representing the Kid's eventual catharsis.

It is difficult to discern authorial intent, as opposed to a mere story byway having no particular significance. If we subscribe to the Death of the Author then it is up to us to ascribe meaning to this episode in the context of the entire Bastion narrative. However, given that the entire narrative is full of deeply allegorical and symbolic language (a worthy discussion in its own right), it is reasonable to suppose Jawson Bog is intended to mean something.

Unfortunately, as readers/players, we shall never know for sure what that something is.

It is certainly one of the more thought-provoking levels in Bastion, and worthy of discussion. If anyone is still playing Bastion, please pitch in with your thoughts!

EDIT: clarity, additional notes

0

I totally was thrown off by this moment in the game, even though it can be explained by the gas, the tone became much darker. I felt like perhaps a revelation was occurring and it's mostly because of the narration of Ruckus...the narrator reveals information that obviously at some points can't be revealed by the Kid if he were to narrate it himself, like a movie commentary or something. I almost felt like Ruckus had been lying to use the kid or perhaps the Kid was evil all along and his 'reincarnation' into the world left him without knowing his prior life. At any rate, any of these ideas would have either ended the story for the player in the role of the Kid or changed it dramatically, disrupting the game-play.

-2

I figure the whole dream is showing the things that have really gotten to the Kid thus far.

Zia's called "Siren" when you interact with her in the beginning of the delusion, and a siren is an entity with malicious intent that lures people into danger with their song; maybe Kid feels guilty for bringing her and her father's diary into the Bastion, causing Zulf to go into a rage and damage the Bastion.

You're then "welcomed by the dead with open arms" in the Hanging Gardens. It MUST bother the Kid to see all these people, some of which he knew and were probably friends with, dead but kept around as ashen statues. Some people were enjoying themselves, and most were going about their daily business, yet all their lives were snatched from them so fast that they didn't even have time to react; they were incinerated so quickly that all of their being just turned to ash as closely packed as their body was. Even Rucks says "What do you say to a kid who's seen too much?

The part where he fights wildlife in the Bastion is the Kid being frustrated with the fact that the only things to survive in numbers were things intent on causing harm to him and other human survivors, and the fact that he has to go further and further into the wild to attempt to help the two people he still has (Rucks and Zia).

In The Sole Regret, he's thinking about what the ramifications of his actions would be had the Calamity not occurred. It's not like he'd hurt anyone or steal a shield before the Calamity, but at this point he's gone through a lot in this hallucination and his consciousness is running with this negativity to make things worse.

On the Rippling Walls... even I'm not entirely sure what's supposed to be happening here. The Kid is upset that the Rippling Walls have been destroyed, but then it says "His lifelong friend... he's come undone, too," while you fight... yourself. I'm guessing that all the Kid's really had throughout his life is himself, which you can kind of get from his dream (from smoking Zulf's pipe). Now, he's under a lot of stress and pressure as two people's lives and any other potential survivor's life is in his hands. It's up to him and him only to go out and restore the Bastion. And that can make anyone come undone.

In the last part of the dream, I figure the Kid returns to "reality," where all he's really known is work on the Rippling Walls. It comforts him to do what he's always done, packing ore on the outskirts of the city in a camp. This probably calms him down enough to snap back to reality, where he still has plenty of work to do.

1
  • 3
    This is incredibly hard to read. Would you mind breaking this up into readable chunks?
    – Vemonus
    Commented Jun 23, 2017 at 15:05

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .