I’ve tried to keep this post spoiler free. Let me know if you think it’s not.
I am 100% in love with Bioshock Infinite. The world they’ve created in this game is breathtakingly beautiful and a joy to explore. While the game starts off with a dark note, it’s not nearly as frightening at the first Bioshock was (I couldn’t sleep the first few nights I played the original). This works in the game’s favor as the bright blue skies and colorful scenery bring attention to and contrast against the unsettling racism and fanaticism of Columbia’s residents.
I will say, it was a bit funny for me playing this game as a person of faith. At first I tried to be respectful of their beliefs and not steal money from the shrines but that didn’t last long – I have to survive you know!
The joys and wonders that made the first Bioshock such a hit in my book continue to be present in Infinite. The powers (in this case, vigors,) are unique and inventive, my favorite so far being Murder of Crows. I love using it as it gives me a chance to take a breather and assess the situation when being attacked by several enemies, but I always feel terrible when I see people, who are really just doing their jobs or civic duty in their minds, getting literally torn apart by birds.
Although I’m still in the early stages of the game, I can already sense the richness of the story, which is subtly told through propaganda posters (especially disturbing considering that these kind of materials didn’t just exist in Columbia back in 1912) and eavesdropping. I can feel the weight of my choices and moral decisions, even without knowing exactly how they will affect the overall story.
I always have a bit of dilemma when it comes to games with a moral choice element. On one hand, I instinctively want to choose what I think would be the right thing to do in such a situation. Then there’s the additional burden of considering what I would really do in that given situation IRL, which is usually same as the “right” thing, but not always. Lastly, there’s the consideration that I should go with choices I would never normally make, because that’s the best thing about a video game – the consequences aren’t real, so why not go crazy and do something different?
Of course, the problem with that last line of reasoning is that eventually, the consequences do become real – or at least they feel real. A truly good game with a special story makes those character decisions feel like your decisions. I may not be 100% Booker DeWitt, but I’m also not 100% myself – I become some amalgamation of the two. I suffered the consequences of forgetting this in the first Bioshock, when the ending left me feeling like an ass. I already feel myself becoming attached to Elizabeth, who does an extraordinary job of being an escort without making herself a pain.
I love her innocence and want to protect her already. Yes, I feel some emotional tether to this virtual character who I honestly haven’t even spent that much of the game with yet. So that means that when I have to make certain decisions that will doubtlessly have consequences for us both in the future, they are choices that do matter, because I’m vested in this game and its outcome. And that my friends, is solid storytelling.