Bastion Beat Sheet

Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat!® is a screenwriting tool (beat sheet) loosely based on John Campbell’s “the hero’s journey.”

For every step in the beat sheet, a number in parenthesis accompanies it. This number is the minute marker that the beat should occur in the film. For example, the first step is the Opening Image. This should occur near or around the first minute of the film.

Now try this interesting exercise in interactive narrative: Take any game or level or mission and map it out according to Save the Cat!®.

Here’s my beat sheet of Bastion.

1. Opening Image (1) – Tone and struggle of story. Typically bookends with Final Image.

The Kid is alone on a stranded piece of rubble. The world around him is in ruins.

2. Theme Stated (5)

The player isn’t able to move around or interact with anything. The Narrator speaks: “Proper stories supposed to start at the beginning. Ain’t so simple with this one.” The Kid’s journey is essentially the theme of the game: hard work and perseverance are necessary for survival and rebirth of the community.

3. Set-Up (1-10) – Present hero’s world and what is missing.

Narrator: “Now here’s a kid whose whole world got twisted, leaving him stranded on a rock in the sky.” The player is now able to move the character.

Narrator: “He gets up. Sets off for the Bastion, where everyone agreed to go in case of trouble.”

4. Catalyst (12) – Call to action, spoken to hero (not by hero). Hero doesn’t understand what it means.

The player has explored further ahead. Narrator: “He sees what’s left of the Rippling Walls. Years of work undone in an instant. In the Calamity.”

5. Debate (12-25) – Hero debates why he should or should not accept the call to action.

The Kid has two choices upon reaching the Bastion: try to live his old style of life now that the Calamity has occurred or survive, grow, and change by completing the activation of the Bastion.

6. Break into Act Two (25) – Hero accepts the call.

The Kid initially activates the Bastion. The Narrator: “Now the Bastion can send him farther. Into the Wild Unknown.”

7. B Story (30) – Debate over theme, typically between hero and love interest

Not really applicable.

8. Fun and Games (30-55) – Big chases, explosions, “Promise of the Premise.”

The player travels to many locations, collecting Cores and rebuilding the Bastion, i.e. a lot of gameplay progress.

9. Midpoint (55) – Everything is great (and will go south).

Narrator previously said: “The Cores… they remember. That’s why this place is coming together. That’s why things are going to be all right. There’s only one Core left and then the Bastion will be completed.

10. Bad Guys Close In (55-75) – The hero’s “great” situation begins to fall apart.

The Kid meets Zulf. Later, after reading a journal, Zulf intentionally damages the Bastion’s central device and flees to Ura territory.

11. All Is Lost (75) – Hero loses everything.

The Bastion is rendered inoperational. All of the player’s hard work in completely reactivating the Bastion is lost.

12. Dark Night of the Soul (75-85) – Rock-bottom, mourning, something new is born.

The Kid now has to collect Shards, or lesser forms of Cores, to heal the damage to the Bastion. There is still hope.

13. Break into Act Three (85) – Hero stands up with new idea or inspiration.

As the player retrieves the penultimate Shard, the Ura attack the Bastion, damaging it and abducting Zia (semi love interest).

14. Finale (85-110) – Take the theme, nugget of truth and return to the main villain as a new person.

Gathering the Team (Making Amends => Gathering Tools => Strapping on Guns => Someone states, “It’s impossible!”)

The Kid essentially prepares for an attack on the Ura homeland by performing last-minute upgrades and equipment checks.

Storming the Castle (It’s going great => We Lose People – Emotional loss of secondary characters)

The Kid travels to the Ura homeland and spreads devastation throughout the Ura forces. The player is given a choice later on: rescue Zulf or not. If Zulf isn’t rescued, then the “We lose people” beat is satisfied.

High Tower Surprise (No princess || Stopped || Arrested || Timer countdown || We lost => No human can help)

Zulf is betrayed by his own people, who blame him for leading the Kid to their homeland. They turn on him.

Dig Deep Down (Leap of Faith)

The Kid can either rescue Zulf or not. If he decides to rescue Zulf, then he has to dig deep down and carry him through a procession of hostile Ura archers. They badly wound the Kid, but his Leap of Faith was worth it. They recognize his bravery and loyalty to Zulf and halt the attack out of respect.

If the Kid decides to not rescue Zulf, then he destroys the remnants of the Ura army and escapes.

Execution of New Plan (On the fly)

The Kid is told that the Bastion is capable of rewinding time to before the Calamity, or it can detonate the Cores and evacuate the remaining people to somewhere safer. The player is given the option of which ending to go with.

15. Final Image (110) – Bookend of opening image. Shows the change in the hero.

The Kid is not alone anymore, and he’s not on a stranded piece of rubble like he was in the Opening Image. The world around him is either restored to a previous state or remains the same, but safer and far away from the ruins of Caelondia and the Calamity. He is also surrounded by friends.