How The Tale of Bistun Is Narration Done Right
The Tale of Bistun handles it’s narration a little differently, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing.
The Tale of Bistun
I love narration; in shows, I love it when the main character narrates throughout the story, and I love listening to the story's narration whenever I'm playing a videogame. And although I've always loved the way narration sounds, I've always hated the way it’s been implemented in videogames; this is mostly because of how it is often done wrong.
You see, although it sounds excellent, narration is always a source of constant stress to me: you walk just one step out of bounds, and your character will be interrupted, prompting a new audio to play, completely interrupting the current one. It's always been frustrating because I really like it when I'm walking and the character narrates, but sometimes I'll move too fast and trigger this interruption.
And although The Tale of Bistun has narration (and it even gets mentioned in the description!), I didn't anticipate it. I didn't know there was any form of narration until the narrator (and his gorgeous voice) graced my ears with his presence; this is when the anxiety immediately set in. Suddenly, I didn't stroll across Mount Bistun; I crawled, hoping to avoid interrupting any dialogue by starting another one. Throughout my entire demo experience — or at least my first time through — I moved extremely slowly and waited for the narrator to finish telling me whatever it was he was saying before I moved on. The anxiety never settled unless I stayed utterly still.
It wasn't until my second playthrough that I realised how perfect the narration is built in The Tale of Bistun. This irrational fear began when I played through God of War (2018) and found myself constantly interrupting Kratos or Mimir while they were talking, whether they were telling a story or merely conversing. Since then, I began staying still until all forms of dialogue were done, and I was sure they wouldn't talk anymore. In The Tale of Bistun, throughout my second playthrough, I decided to just continue walking forward and face my fear, and it worked flawlessly.
Scattered throughout the level are areas that seamlessly — yet flawlessly — slow your progression enough so that the narrator can finish; these are often disguised as thin walls to shimmy through or long distances to walk until your subsequent encounter. This small yet significant detail allowed me to continue walking and progressing the story without any fear of interrupting anything because the walking sequences perfectly fit with the length of the narration.
I know it's a silly thing to complain about — much more to make an entire article praising — but The Tale of Bistun is narration done expertly, and it soothed an anxiety I've been battling against for years.
The Tale of Bistun
If you haven't, you absolutely should give The Tale of Bistun a shot! Try the game's demo out, and then pre-purchase it exclusively here on Fanatical! Better yet, by pre-purchasing the game, get it at a 20% discount!