The Bioshock games hold a special place in my heart, and for a number of reasons. The franchise is a series of three extraordinarily well-made games, and the story they tell is hard to beat for their genre, since I feel the first person shooter genre has been popularized and stereo-typed into games like Halo and Call of Duty, which are essentially made only for fighting against other players.
But Bioshock in my eyes was never really about the gameplay. Don’t get me wrong, the functionality of it works quite well, but it wasn’t what drew me into the game. The story of “Who built this underwater city?” and “What is really going on here?” pushed me to keep going. Off the top of my head, every game in this series has had the highest caliber of plot twists its uncanny. They are so good, that I had the ending of Bioshock: Infinite spoiled for me, and that made experiencing it at the end no less amazing.
The original Bioshock was the first game I had ever played where, without prior experience, I set the game mode to Hard. It was that day that I thought to challenge myself, and I consider becoming an above average gamer a stepping stone to growing older, since I’ve grown up with video games. (That being said, Bioshock on Hard killed me dozens of times, but I did actually get through it eventually.)
This game is also terrifying in a lot of places. There are jumpscares (though only a handful of them in each game) and you get more of a tone of creepiness than horror a lot of the time. Yes, everything is trying to kill you, but the game isn’t extensively graphic. It’s more of a suspense than a horror game (though, technically, ‘horror’ is a general term that umbrellas like a dozen other things).
I should also mention that the game is gorgeous. With some games set in the bottom of the ocean and one in the sky, the game loves flaunting its scenery, and I’m okay with that. Bragging rights well earned. Very few games have sucked me into the game and made me the main character the same way the Bioshock games have. It’s done in a pretty clever way, too. In Bioshock: Infinite (no spoilers) its done through careful steps of illusions of choice.
The main characters in the game are relatable because you’re the one taking their actions, and the things the game drives you to do that you may not do in real life are explained through “life and death, you need to defend yourself” or things like that. If you’re stuck in a situation where you have no idea what you’re doing, as the character is in this game, sometimes you are guided by somebody that knows their way around, and you’d trust that person if literally everybody else is trying to kill you. As I said, the game gives you no choice, but me as a player would have no reason to not “run where the arrows point” when I’m scared of everything.
Another example of how well thought out this game series is. A major premise of Bioshock: Infinite is that the girl of prophecy is trapped in a tower because her dad doesn’t want her outside. At some point in the game, you hear a steam piano cover of “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”, and some of the lyrics say “some boys take a beautiful girl and hider her away from the rest of the world”. And that makes me wonder. Was it a coincidence, and did the guys that put that song in just think “Yeah, this song is a good choice,” or did they think “How many people will realize that we’re not picking these songs at random?” I’m always excited to see the lengths at which story tellers figuratively dust the nooks and crannies of attics when their story is about a whole neighborhood or town. Maybe it’s because I’m the same way.