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Anthem Review: Flight of Fancy

By Derek Strickland from Mar 31, 2019 @ 1:04 CDT
TweakTown Rating: 70%Manufacturer: x

One of Anthem's saving graces is the majestic and sprawling fantasy world. BioWare has proven to be masters of art direction and world-building, and I'm absolutely spellbound by Bastion's strange, bold frontier.

 

 

BioWare's crafted sandbox is enchanting in its scope and visual presentation. Weird cyclopean machinery breaks through the ground, speaking to some hidden secrets from the stars. Bastion has a vibrancy, a beautiful color that manifests into one of the most impressive in-game worlds I've ever seen. Tropical plants sway in the breeze and waterfalls crash to great chasms deep in the earth. Strange wild creatures fly the skies as monsters maunder the ground searching for prey.

 

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The world not only looks alive, but it feels alive.

 

There's a spirit here, a kind of electricity, a testament to a dream almost-realized. One can almost feel the potency of BioWare's magic spells as if some great wizardry was used to craft this expanse.

 

Each area has its own name and attachment to the universe; there's a significance to every place, whether it be ruins from some great academy of sorcery, a battlement that withstood an ancient war, a sunken city that time forgot, or the rusty, corroded cosmopolis of the Scar.

 

There's lots of meaning to be uncovered throughout the world, but you have to look for it, seek it out.

 

This mythical realm brings a sense of roaming mystery that awakens the intrepid explorer within all of us. I've had some fantastic memories cruising across Bastion with my HUD turned off, blasting through alien tunnels to uncover strange relics, drift through the incredible underwater areas with their bioluminscent fish, and soaring into the sunset.

 

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There's magic here in these hallowed medieval halls, in this land riven by mountain-shattering storms, in this universe that marries Isaac Asimov's deep futurism with J.R.R. Tolkien's high fantasy. I always find something interesting to check out in Bastion. I'm always beckoned to travel down a path, or fly through a Shaper doorway or even jump into a puddle. You never know where Anthem's world will take you, and that's really the beauty of it.

 

I particularly enjoy how Anthem's world is blended with the game's lore. Anthem's story might not be so dynamic and in-depth as we expected, but the lore itself has a kind of unique potency to it. Bastion is steeped in legend and a kind of sprawling history that lives outside of anything BioWare has made.

 

BioWare clearly tried to create something fresh, something interesting, and I have to say it's worked. There's some of that old-school BioWare flair to be found here but you have to look a bit harder to find it.

 

Anthem's lore tells of a force called the Anthem of Creation, a nebulous glowing conduit of pure power. It created Bastion and the world itself, and there's myths surrounding it and the mysterious Shapers (kind of like the Forerunners in Halo). It has the power to create, or to completely destroy and create something else by proxy.

 

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Thanks to technological prowess, man enjoyed a golden age of prosperity, but ambitions went too far when it tried to harness the Anthem of Creation. This event kicked off an explosive everstorm called the Heart of Rage, a persistent maelstrom that wreaks havoc upon Bastion. You see the Heart of Rage throughout the story and actually move to quell its stormy heart.

 

The lore also speaks of legendary warriors like General Tarsis and her Legion of Dawn. Throughout the story you actually go to each of their tombs to uncover secrets (rather drab mechanically, but armed with lore the environments take on new meaning). And as you play, new lore opens up and gives you more pieces and tidbits about the world itself.

 

Seeing these relics and pieces of history manifest before your eyes gives the world much more meaning. There's a deeper view to see in Anthem, but you have to sift through its tedious menus and read a bunch before you uncover it. But once you do, the game becomes much more immersive. It's just BioWare hasn't exactly presented the material in the best way.

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