Redemption and Restoration in Bastion
Life can be tough for a kid. There’s bullies and siblings and parents. You’re forced to submit to a system that you have no control over and feel like you never will.
I can’t be the only one who remembers what it felt like to be a boy, constantly fantasizing about situations that called upon me to rise to the occasion and do something awesome. Do you remember? Bad guys were breaking into your house and you had to save your family. Your backyard became a treacherous jungle and an exotic battlefield; the playground was a set from Star Wars and you were the Jedi, or it was the deck of a galleon and you were the Privateer. Save the day. Save the world.
Bastion starts out like any of those fantasies. You’re The Kid, and you wake up one morning to find your world destroyed by an event called The Calamity. Going outside, you see an “old friend” lying in the road ahead. It’s your trusty hammer, and you’re going to need it. Enemies are about to start popping up everywhere you go. Seems like just another fantasy- everything is going wrong, and you’re the only one who can stop it. Pretty soon you meet a stranger. He has a plan. You see, there’s this place called the Bastion being built that will actually have the power to turn everything back to how it was, even back to when it was, like a life-rewind button. Of course there’s no guarantee that the whole thing won’t just happen all over again, but what other option is there?
Bastion, however, isn’t just about victory, it’s about restoration. The main villain, The Calamity, doesn’t even have a face, except for the face it shows you every time you look around your shattered world. Your enemy isn’t a person, it’s the state the world is in–you don’t win by conquering it, you win by reversing it.
In the final act you realize that Bastion is about so much more than an empowerment fantasy. The Kid travels into the heart of enemy territory to recover the last piece needed to complete the Bastion. It’s guarded by another survivor who is bent on stopping you. You’ve defeated his forces and claimed the item when you witness a coup d’etat. Your foe’s forces turn on him, leaving him helpless and leaving you with a choice: do you bring him back to the Bastion, or do you leave him to his justly deserved fate?
It doesn’t actually make a difference to the end of the game. You get no rewards for rescuing him, no penalty for leaving him behind. He’s the bad guy remember? I couldn’t help but think of something Jesus told his disciples in John 20:23, “If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” Children of God have this incredible ability to invite people into this Kingdom that’s being built, whether they deserve to be there or not. This choice affected me deeply, not because of some tangible reward, but because, for a moment, it allowed me to identify with the Divine Nature that rescued me when I was the one in need; when I was the betrayer who’d been left for dead.
So you rescue him, or not, and return to the Bastion. Now you’re ready to activate it. Finally, things will be exactly how they were, and your small group of companions, well, you won’t remember any of them, because you’ll have never met any of them. A bleak thought, but it’s for the best right? There’s another option though, if you can call it that: Destroy the Bastion. Move on. Start over. Take your friends with you and make something new.
Everywhere he went, Jesus brought restoration. In fact, one day he’s promised to make all things new. In the Message Bible, it says that God’s people are like “Trees replanted in Eden,” (Jer. 17:7) which gives a sense of us returning to our roots. But is God’s plan of redemption simply about going back to the beginning?
I don’t think that it is. When Jesus says in Revelation 21:5 “I am making everything new,” the word that he uses for “new” actually implies “never before seen.” In other words, God wants to take creation to a place that we haven’t been yet. N.T. Wright refers to the Bible as the story of “God’s long-term restoration project.” God is restoring our world, but not just by quickly turning it back to something old, he’s carefully crafting it into something original.
I destroyed the Bastion, and I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. Heck, I still don’t know where The Kid will end up, but I guess that’s just part of the adventure.
In my life, I don’t know where I’m going to end up either. But I do know that I can’t go back. See, we can learn from the past, but we’ve got to keep moving forward. As tempting as it often is to try and recreate what God did in some other era, I know that what he wants to do is something new. So, where things have gone wrong, where things are at their worst, I’m praying that God would begin to give me his eyes to see opportunities to work redemption and restoration. That’s something more important than just another power fantasy.
Jordan Ekeroth lives in sunny San Diego, where he studies Theology and writes about video games. You can see his ongoing project at followandengage.com