For this week, I am very excited to discuss one of my all-time favorite video games out there, BioShock: Infinite. My first experience with the third game of the BioShock series was not long after its release in the spring of 2013. And while that is quite a while off from now, it has a story that twists so wonderfully that it left me with whiplash to last this long.
Infinite is a small oddity because though it is, as I mentioned before, the third installment in its series, the game itself stands alone. It shares very little with the previous two games aside from the title and some secrets in its post-game downloadable content. Gameplay mechanics, concepts, and features are reminiscent of its predecessors, but Infinite rightly exists for itself.
“Bring us the girl, and wipe away the debt.” When the game opens up to the player’s control, the protagonist, who we learn to be called Booker DeWitt, wakes in the middle of his transportation via rowboat by a pair of strangers headed toward the coast of Maine in the year of 1912. With little else to go on aside from the eerie quote above, circumstances dictate that Booker be rocketed skyward after exploring the lighthouse the two strangers deposit him upon, sending him to join the city-in-the-sky of Columbia.
Booker, as we discover, has been tasked with the retrieval of a woman on Columbia named Elizabeth, who is held captive Rapunzel-style by order of the city leader Zachary Comstock, with a beast simply called Songbird serving as the troll or warden guarding the metaphorical bridge to reach her. A mysterious brand on the back of Booker’s hand with the letters “AD” marks him as the False Shepherd that Comstock prophesied would “corrupt Elizabeth and bring about Columbia’s downfall.” So now, on top of his mission to reach Elizabeth, the player must be wary of the many enemies barring the way to Monument Island where she is kept.
Like the other games in the BioShock series, Infinite is played in first-person view. The player may make use of various firearms as well as interesting abilities called Vigors, which enables Booker to influence his enemies through powers such as Possession or Murder of Crows, which sics violent birds at them. Vigors require a substance called Salts to be use, and they are limited in use to the bar on the heads up display signifying how much more power the player has left before requiring replenishment.
The game follows a rather typical course: the retrieval and transport of the mysterious Elizabeth. But it’s the details that really catch. As secrets unfold through encounters with a strange pair of twins, later found to be called the Luteces, and the help of Elizabeth, it becomes more apparent that there is so much more to the story than a simple pick-up-and-drop-off mission to wipe away whatever debt Booker’s found himself in. I won’t spoil anything, but Infinite has an absolutely astounding ending that not only makes the game worth playing but also replaying to pick up on every little hint you will have definitely missed the first time around.
BioShock: Infinite can currently be bought digitally off of Steam’s client for $29.99. The hard copies range in that ballpark as well. While not terribly cheap, it is absolutely worth every penny, guaranteed. This is a game I will honestly shove down throats that haven’t experienced it yet. It is easily at a rather high spot on my favorite-games-of-all-time list, and I cannot possibly recommend it more.