Stranger’s Dream

As the garrulous storyteller reeled off his closing soliloquy and the curtain fell to signal Bastion’s finishing there was an unambiguous sense of closure. That was very much that. The buccaneering tale of The Kid and the Bastion was complete.

With that in mind, any downloadable content was going to struggle to find relevance and Stranger’s Dream, to be brusque, isn’t. As the last hurrah of a remarkable game it calls attention to its ugliest feature – enemy spamming – and Bastion deserves better. Better here though, would almost certainly amount to no content at all.

Regardless, 70-odd queen-embellished pennies nets you two fresh campaign modes (a score attack and a no sweat mode that lets you play through the campaign with unlimited retries) and a new Who Knows Where scenario. Neither of them add anything particularly meaningful to the formula, but, I don’t know, your kids might appreciate the no-fail mode. The Who Knows Where scenario is likely the draw for Bastion fans.

In Bastion proper, the Who Knows Where distractions pitted the player against droves of fine-looking but nonetheless vicious foes in a trial-by-fire series of combat crucibles while Rucks the gravelly teller of tales span a yarn through the bedlam. The Kid somersaulted ceaselessly around the periphery in a bid to avoid the glut of enemies, seldom pausing to poke somebody with a spear or spit out a rifle shot. It wasn’t a great deal of fun, but they were worth persevering with for another fix of that fine narration.

Nada has been revised here and as you’re once again molested by turrets, venomous flora and vicious Ghibli-esque savages, even Rucks’ plaintive A-Z chronicling of the universe struggles to turn it into an endeavour worth taking. W is for Weeping Nellie and I’d sure rather be in her company right now.

As was perhaps inevitable regardless of the nature of the downloadable content, Stranger’s Dream finds itself caught in no man’s land. Without a floating hunk of doom-laden world to investigate or a fiction worth recounting, its charm is deflated and the core of Bastion is missing. But then there was nothing really left to tell. Bastion was, in the year 2011, that rarest of things: the finished article.

On the reverse, better any DLC arrive like this than Supergiant meddle with The Kid’s odyssey. Bastion itself is, as ever, irresistible.

5/10

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