The Last Bastion: Digital Story Critique

Blizzard, the multimillion dollar company behind the popular video game World of Warcraft released a new video game this year, titled Overwatch. In this exclusively multiplayer game, teams of six complete objectives while trying to take down the opposing team. Currently, there are 22 playable characters, all with particular backstories, abilities, and personalities.

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In order to make the world of Overwatch more enticing, as the game does not come with a story mode, Blizzard has taken to making shorts about their characters. The most recent one is simply titled, The Last Bastion, as of the writing of this post, has 10.5 million views.

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This animated short has no dialogue, but tells the story of one of the robotic characters, Bastion. He is one of many such sentries that were built during a time of war. Sometime between the war and now, he shut down in the forest. He is overgrown with moss and ivy, but woken up by a small bird who wants to make a nest on his shoulder. Bastion wanders through the forest, trying to figure out where he is and what has happened, all the while the small bird continues happily making its nest. When he hears a woodpecker knocking on a tree in the distance, Bastion turns into a turreted mode, clearing down the forest in his area. The woodpecker seemingly brought a ptsd related response out of the main character, as we get to see through his flashbacks. After the bird calms him, he decides to embrace his new life.

For the critique, I’m looking at Story, Presentation, and Sense of Audience.

Story. The story is entirely told with no dialogue, simply the beeps and boops of the robot and the noises of the birds, yet it has an incredible emotional response. Many of the comments on YouTube praise it because people, whether they have played the game or not, had a very emotional response, crying and feeling genuinely sad about the video. It also has very good pacing, as it allows the viewer to become familiar with the characters and then it proceeds to bring the story to an emotional high point, and then settles down again. The short video tells so much. Never before did I think I would tear up about a war robot in a video game.

Presentation. This short is absolutely gorgeous. The fully rendered backgrounds and smooth animation is to be expected by a large company like Blizzard. Even the moss on top of Bastion moves when he turns around, the barrel of his gun shifting ever so slightly. The craftsmanship in he video is amazing. It elicited an emotional response in the viewers and told the story that they wanted to. The cute, peppy pixar-esque song that flows through the video is also the perfect choice to make the two characters seem friendly and approachable

Sense of Audience. Blizzard definitely understood that not just their players watch these shorts. It’s easy to understand and a completely independent video, there is no real need to know anything else about the Overwatch universe before you see the video. They also kept the video under 10 minutes, which is the perfect amount of time to get people to sit there and click it, without them being put off by the length. They even add a conventional ESRB rating at the front of it.

Overall, the craftsmanship and the storytelling elements in this video are stunning and gorgeous. I would add more sounds in the short. You constantly have the noises from the two characters, but forests are loud. There are other animals there and even a small wind blowing through makes a considerable amount of noise. Either way, this is a stunning animation that you should check out.

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