The game doesn't make sense?

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#1 Posted by MC_Hify (347 posts) -

I've been listening to the GOTY deliberations and a few times now it has been brought up that the crew unanimously thinks that the story of Bioshock Infinite makes all kinds of logical leaps and the story isn't coherent. This really surprised me.

I played through the game in one marathon session and was fairly drunk the second half of it, which sounds like a recipe for not getting a complex story but I thought the story made perfect logical sense in the world of the game. I wasn't confused by anything and I thought the ending was coherent.

What do people not understand?

#2 Edited by HatKing (6059 posts) -

There's about seventy different discussions about this topic going on all over this website right now. I'm not saying starting a specific thread for it is a bad thing. But it wouldn't surprise me if the conversation has been exhausted at this point. Heck, I got fucking sick of talking about the game about a month after it came out. And aside from that I don't remember enough of the story specifics to comment critically anyway.

#3 Posted by ArtisanBreads (3963 posts) -

I found it all coherent too. I'm sure it can be picked apart but I don't really care to. Had a lot of fun with it.

#4 Edited by Kindisaurus_Rex (2791 posts) -

They're veteran game critics talking about a game. Look at any television show where people critique something and tell me that half of the negativity they point out doesn't sound contrived. Sometimes I really think they must feel like they are obligated to say something negative about a product solely based on the idea of not wanting to sound like they are a "fanboy" of said thing. That's not saying Bioshock: Infinite wasn't flawed, but I've had the same feelings about Ryse: Son of Rome as well. I have found that if I play a game before I listen to someones opinion about it, I enjoy it a lot more. If I do the opposite, I end up allowing some sort of influence that may have not been there before, in.

#5 Posted by joshwent (2323 posts) -

Watching the GotY video where they played it, I was a bit surprised that they were still confused about the basic story. I think they just probably played through the game as fast as possible (it's not that long after all) in an attempt to stay up to date with the zeitgeist, and in doing so just didn't pay too much attention to the basic stuff. Then, when it actually did start getting complicated, they were just lost.

I also think it's just part of the mystique BI has acquired. People hear about a crazy twist and alternate dimensions and assume, even after playing it, that the story is much more of a puzzle than it turns out to be.

#6 Edited by DonChipotle (2804 posts) -

The timeline and the resolution of the game do not add up. The ending does not make sense.

#7 Posted by GreggD (4510 posts) -

The timeline and the resolution of the game do not add up. The ending does not make sense.

YOU DON'T MAKE SENSE

#8 Posted by MC_Hify (347 posts) -

The timeline and the resolution of the game do not add up. The ending does not make sense.

Specifics?

#9 Posted by StarvingGamer (8457 posts) -

@greggd said:

@donchipotle said:

The timeline and the resolution of the game do not add up. The ending does not make sense.

YOU DON'T MAKE SENSE

YEAH!

It's sci-fi, you can make anything make sense if you try hard enough.

#10 Posted by MC_Hify (347 posts) -

@starvinggamer: I didn't have any trouble following where they were and what they were doing. I just thought it was kind of pointless because they left their original universe. But even that was resolved in the end.

#11 Edited by Oldirtybearon (4867 posts) -

It really isn't a hard story to follow. Even if you're one of those people who can't let go of "bu-bu-but time travel is impossible!" and other such nonsense, the game doesn't deal with any real brain-breaking logic or theories. Its internal logic is consistent and really that's all anyone should care about when it comes to these kinds of stories.

I mean at the end of the day it's a story about an absentee father and his daughter. All of the dimension-hopping and time traveling is just window dressing. It's cool as hell, but ultimately unimportant when taken into the greater context of the story.

#12 Posted by Clonedzero (4200 posts) -

Theres alot about the game that doesn't make sense when you analyze it. Not to mention the morality of the ending I mean destroying thousands if not more of timelines just because elizabeth had a rough life and comstock as a tyrant still puts your effective kill count (yes i count blinking people out of existence as killing them) at a number that would make hitler blush.

seriously, destroying all those timelines just because of comstock is like using a nuke to assassinate a single businessman in new york city. It's fucking crazy. It's worse than genocide. Also why the fuck did she drown "player booker" he obviously wasn't going to become comstock, seemed pretty god damn stupid and only happened for the shock value.

#13 Posted by GuyIncognito (445 posts) -

Wait a minute...That card...

#14 Edited by davidwitten22 (1708 posts) -

It's a video game. There's a topic posted in these forums that StarvingGamer linked that explains the stuff about the story that could have been confusing. I thought the story was good and the gameplay was fun, but like the grand majority of games if you try really hard you can pick the story apart.

#15 Posted by Random45 (1263 posts) -

I remember being confused at the end, and I had to look it up online and have someone explain to me what was going on.

#16 Edited by thatdudeguy (116 posts) -

I tended to agree with their opinions, in that I could follow several interesting plot threads and was intrigued by how they played off of each other, but the story as a whole didn't make a lot of sense to me. It's entirely possible that this is a logically consistent world, but that I missed some crucial information. The political, religious, and family tragedy subplots seem well-explored in the game and I don't have any major questions about them. The metaphysical rules of the universe, and the motivations of the main characters where they collide with those rules seem really fuzzy.

I'll take the following as givens (please correct me if I'm wrong):

  • There is one infinitely-branching timeline.
  • Every choice branches the current timeline.
  • There are often patterns that emerge in the branches outside of strict choice causality (recurring themes.)
  • Tears may be opened between branches of the timeline, and at different points in time on each (time travel is possible.)
  • While time-traveling backwards along your own branches of the timeline, you may not effect change.
  • The Luteces' want to prune their own branches of the timeline where Booker becomes Comstock.

Given that the timeline has infinite branches and tear-traveling is possible, righting past injustices becomes philosophically and practically moot. Why do the Luteces want to prevent the birth of Comstock in a universe where infinite megalomaniacal regimes are born every second?

Edit: Oops! Spoiler block was removed!

#17 Edited by captain_clayman (3326 posts) -

The problem for me was that it just got too convoluted for me to remain interested. It's not that it stopped making sense, but once i saw the direction it was going with the multi universe shit it kinda put me off and it just got way too complicated. I was kinda frustrated around the final act when it started getting really crazy because I felt that they completely did away with all of the really interesting socioeconomic topics in the first few hours and just turned it into ridiculous sci fi bullshit. I felt kind of deceived, like the stuff in the beginning was a macguffin but I didn't get the memo that it was little more than a narrative framing device.

#18 Edited by bybeach (4974 posts) -

The finger bit didn't work for me in terms of logic. But I didn't care beyond determining that. The story tried, and I knew where it was going. Yes you can do a lot of warping and twisting with sci-fi, but is that a real objection? You always could, you know. It's a way of playing in your mind, because it seems 20 years later, the same things aren't so sci-fi anymore.

All it takes is a few more cycles of the earth around the sun for added data, observation and experience.. One of the GB crew could really use that perspective, imho.

#20 Edited by Brodehouse (10106 posts) -

When you present me with the possibility of infinite versions of me, I wonder what separates the me I'm looking through from any of the other ones. That's not a deep philosophical question, that's an artistic one; why do I care about this Booker? He's one of an infinite amount of Bookers. What you cut off at the source is at best only one Booker of infinite Bookers at that point in time. Start playing with causality and you get burned.

#21 Posted by MC_Hify (347 posts) -

@thatdudeguy: Because the Luteces feel responsible for him. Or at least the male one does.

#22 Posted by MC_Hify (347 posts) -

@brodehouse: The different worlds were created when Booker made a choice. She killed him before he could make that choice. They never existed.

#23 Posted by ThunderSlash (1907 posts) -

The DLC seems to imply that Liz's solution of killing the Booker that takes the baptism didn't work, and that you can't simply cut off timelines from existence (you just create new ones), and that she fucked up pretty bad with her first actions as a god.

#24 Posted by MC_Hify (347 posts) -
#25 Posted by SSully (4271 posts) -

Guys, I am pretty sure it's safe to not use spoiler tags anymore.

Although very different, I compare BI to the movie Looper. In Looper when Bruce and Gorden's characters (who are the same people, but from different time lines) meet in a diner Gorden's characters start's trying to make sense of how the hell they are together and how time travel works. Bruce Willis characters basically tells him to shut the fuck up and not think about it, because it doesnt matter. I really wish BI did this at some point to the character.

Both the movie and the game make some leaps in logic and can fall apart if you try to nit pick every little detail. When you do that you are just looking to ruin the story. You just need to shut the fuck up, and suspend your disbelief and let the story take you on the ride. I did that for both Looper and BI and loved both of them. Yeah it is fun to bullshit around with friends and tear both the game and movie apart, but at the end of the day I am not going to claim either of them is worse because I am able to point out some holes.

#26 Posted by Brodehouse (10106 posts) -

@mc_hify said:

@brodehouse: The different worlds were created when Booker made a choice. She killed him before he could make that choice. They never existed.

And what of the choice before that, before that, before that? They want to bring up quantum mechanics but don't want to admit that the moment in which they're 'cutting it off' is merely one in an infinite number of observations. These infinite Elizabeths would not have to kill me, somehow standing in for the original Booker; they would have to kill an infinite amount of Bookers from an infinite amount of observations. Now the whole thing doesn't seem tragic, but pointless.

And then there's the causal problem where Liz can't actually simultaneously kill you and cease existing through killing you. Because she can't kill you if she doesn't exist. Either Liz does not kill you and lived in order for her to exist, or Liz does not exist and thus cannot kill you.

#27 Posted by ThunderSlash (1907 posts) -

@mc_hify: Huh, really? Must have missed that bit then.

#28 Edited by MC_Hify (347 posts) -

@brodehouse: Okay, no more spoiler tags as suggested by SSully. Well, there were an infinite amount of Elizabeth's there. An one of them was basically a god that existed outside of reality like the Luteces. The game doesn't doesn't really get into the nitty gritty about how everything works and I didn't feel it needed to. There are constants and variables, maybe the movement of an electron in one direction of another doesn't create new timelines or maybe it does. Booker at that baptism was a constant. If it's not enough detail to work for you I get that but it was enough for me.

I made this thread to try an understand why people felt the logic didn't hold up.

#29 Posted by thatdudeguy (116 posts) -

@ssully: I totally agree with you, and that was the extent of the crew's criticism in the podcast. It's a phenomenal story that confuses when viewed under a microscope. Still my second-favorite game of 2014 :)

#30 Edited by TheMasterDS (2120 posts) -

Yeah, I completely disagree with the crew on this. It's not complicated nor is it messy. The only questionable concept is the idea that drowning Booker kills all Bookers/Comstocks. And it's only questionable if you say "wait, no, that's not right. That's not how this works. I don't believe you. You're doing this for no reason then? I don't understand." If you just accept that one bit at face value than everything else fits together.

Though if one wants to throw stones at Booker/Comstock being random there were actually some pretty major fucking hints throughout the game. The intro quote. The designation "False Shepard", opposite of the proper Shepard obviously. Slate complaining "Comstock says he was at Broken Knee, but he lies! It was me and you Booker! I didn't fucking see him there!"

What else do people take issue with? What? Just how the multiverse stuff worked in general? Well, I dunno, the multiverse fuckery sure seemed to be driving a good number of people mad. I dunno if that's really negating consequences if that's your issue. If your issue is the world became a secondary concern when you realized it was malleable you know what? I don't think that's a problem, I think that's part of the game. At that point it becomes less about Columbia and more about the relationship between Booker and Elizabeth. I think that's a good thing because those two characters and how they relate is pretty fucking important.

So yeah, not complicated, not messy, it just hits you a little fast. Which, mind you, in the moment if you follow along is incredible because it hits you so fucking hard so many times over such a short period... it was wonderful! Alas, Patrick and the other detractors have decided to not remember how they felt rather thinking about a year of the stuff aging. I prefer the GOTY judging where you remember where your head was when you first played it to "Yeah... that 8 month old whammy sure is tired, huh?"

#31 Posted by Little_Socrates (5693 posts) -

It really isn't a hard story to follow. Even if you're one of those people who can't let go of "bu-bu-but time travel is impossible!" and other such nonsense, the game doesn't deal with any real brain-breaking logic or theories. Its internal logic is consistent and really that's all anyone should care about when it comes to these kinds of stories.

I mean at the end of the day it's a story about an absentee father and his daughter. All of the dimension-hopping and time traveling is just window dressing. It's cool as hell, but ultimately unimportant when taken into the greater context of the story.

#32 Edited by LiquidPrince (16109 posts) -

And not just the staff, but some users have been saying it as well. I dunno what people are on, but it made perfect sense to me when I played it. Even some of the parts that I was confused about were very quickly cleared up with evidence in one of the threads that was made early on around the games release. I really don't know what people are talking about.

#33 Posted by LiquidPrince (16109 posts) -

@mc_hify said:

@brodehouse: The different worlds were created when Booker made a choice. She killed him before he could make that choice. They never existed.

And what of the choice before that, before that, before that? They want to bring up quantum mechanics but don't want to admit that the moment in which they're 'cutting it off' is merely one in an infinite number of observations. These infinite Elizabeths would not have to kill me, somehow standing in for the original Booker; they would have to kill an infinite amount of Bookers from an infinite amount of observations. Now the whole thing doesn't seem tragic, but pointless.

And then there's the causal problem where Liz can't actually simultaneously kill you and cease existing through killing you. Because she can't kill you if she doesn't exist. Either Liz does not kill you and lived in order for her to exist, or Liz does not exist and thus cannot kill you.

I feel like you're forgetting the fact that that was explained in the story. By the one Elizabeth simultaneously existing in two dimensions, she becomes a sort of transdimensional being, no longer following the rules of the multiverse. She exists outside of time and space, which is why she also has the ability to create the tears. She's essentially no longer a human. Also she chooses to kill Booker at a very specific point in his life. Meaning all the decisions that he had made up until his baptism (read: his death at the end of the game) were still valid. The only thing that changed was the decisions he would go on to make later on. Which means that at the point of his death but sometime before becoming Comstock, Elizabeth already existed, and she killed him before allowing him to become Comstock.

#34 Posted by Baillie (4274 posts) -

Guys, guess what? None of you know shit about time travel/alternate universes. Let's not get this kind of bullshit in the way of a coherent story.

#35 Posted by LiquidPrince (16109 posts) -

@baillie said:

Guys, guess what? None of you know shit about time travel/alternate universes. Let's not get this kind of bullshit in the way of a coherent story.

No one knows shit about time travel, true, but people are smart enough to piece together the internal logic of the game world, if the game is successful in creating a solid logic in the first place. There are a ton of things that people don't know shit about, such as FTL travel, alien life, blah, blah, blah... But that doesn't stop people from trying to understand all that stuff in other games.Your argument is invalid.

#36 Posted by GTCknight (704 posts) -

I never had any trouble understanding the story at all. In fact I had an idea something was up in the very beginning when I saw some buildings suddenly change into a completely different one, or just vanish altogether. As for the death of Booker I always figured it was meant to erase that (the baptism) moment from every Booker's future; that or it was meant to represent the death every Booker that went to the baptism at the same time. Regardless, I walked away from Bioshock Infinite impressed (not really blown away or anything) with the story. Is it perfect no, but it certainly felt more believable to me than most other sci-fi (I could go into names, but I don't want to derail this topic).

#37 Posted by crithon (3441 posts) -

hehe, just reminded showing Russ Meyer films to roomates while they are drunk or high and that film BLOWS their minds.

#38 Posted by Baillie (4274 posts) -

@baillie said:

Guys, guess what? None of you know shit about time travel/alternate universes. Let's not get this kind of bullshit in the way of a coherent story.

No one knows shit about time travel, true, but people are smart enough to piece together the internal logic of the game world, if the game is successful in creating a solid logic in the first place. There are a ton of things that people don't know shit about, such as FTL travel, alien life, blah, blah, blah... But that doesn't stop people from trying to understand all that stuff in other games.Your argument is invalid.

No it's not. The logic all works within the BI universe.

#39 Posted by Aetheldod (3682 posts) -

I liked the story , I understood it perfectly and actually was amazed that I knew who Comstock was in reality (way before the twist). I will say this , I will never ever trust a game journalist (not even the duders) to know about stories anyway.

#40 Edited by DonChipotle (2804 posts) -

@mc_hify said:

@donchipotle said:

The timeline and the resolution of the game do not add up. The ending does not make sense.

Specifics?

The game puts forth that the baptism is what sets in motion the events of the game. In one timeline Booker becomes Comstock while in another Booker doesn't get baptized and stays Booker DeWitt. Booker goes on to get a debt and a shambled life while in Columbia Comstock is made sterile because of the shit he and Rosalind are experimenting with. The deal is made for bringing the girl/wiping the debt. Cut to the future, the Luteces bring Booker to the Comstock timeline and the game starts. Some more silly stuff happens with the time line when they start looking for guns for the Vox, but that's something else entirely that is stupid for different reasons. The ending with the baptism and revelation of Booker's identities wouldn't make any sense given the fact that the game is dealing with infinite realities. Infinite is right there in the title even. The decision to go through with the baptism doesn't mean that Comstock doesn't exist in any timeline any more. By the game's own logic, there would be at least one Booker and one Comstock that aren't shown in the game but exist in each other's timeline. And there's no assurance that the baptism is what caused the change, or even if it was that particular baptism. And above all of that, Elizabeth can't realistically drown Booker because in doing so she creates a paradox where she isn't even born. The game just tosses around concepts to make shit up without any need for logic or consistency.

#41 Posted by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

@random45 said:

I remember being confused at the end, and I had to look it up online and have someone explain to me what was going on.

That's about as bad as I had it. At first, I didn't understand how Booker and Comstock were the same person.

#42 Posted by joshwent (2323 posts) -

This is true, but it's not a plot hole or oversight, it's kind of the point of the game. It's precisely what the Lucettes are talking about throughout, that the Booker you're playing as is just another in a constant stream of Bookers, and they're unsure whether there is a variable that can be changed to alter how the preceeding events turn out (the coin flip, the choker). It reflects the major personal theme; is Booker just doomed to act according to his nature, or can he actually make a positive change. And if so, how?

If you find the idea that you're just one of infinite characters unsatisfying (which I don't, but some here clearly do) that's fine, but it's certainly not a hole in the plot.

#43 Posted by NTM (7516 posts) -

I think some of it is a bit complicated to understand, but not in the sense that it's a problem. I've played it through four times now, and almost everything makes sense; it's just the very minuscule of details that pertain to the end that I'm still questioning, but it's mainly due to ambiguity. What I don't like, and it's not at all a problem on the games part, is that some of the twists at the end were practically subtly told multiple times throughout the game, and as I went through it a third and fourth time, it made me wonder how I never caught on to it in the first place, though that's perhaps what's great about it: how you notice little things you hadn't noticed before. I haven't been listening or watching the Giant Bomb game of the year stuff, but I did watch one and Jeff said something about how the story falls apart if you dissect it, and it doesn't really; it's the most interesting part about the game to me and what should be brought up most in a conversation about the game.

#44 Edited by Veektarius (4975 posts) -

While I do disagree with the crew (I guess I'm talking about Patrick and Brad here) it doesn't bother me if they downgraded it because they had trouble following the logic, even if the logic is objectively in place. It does bother me that no one challenged them on the claim that it was logically inconsistent and just accepted the argument on its face.

However, Patrick's argument about how the game's various subplots (e.g. the revolution) fall flat is totally on point, imo and ultimately justifies its eventual treatment in the awards.

#45 Posted by DonChipotle (2804 posts) -

@joshwent said:

This is true, but it's not a plot hole or oversight, it's kind of the point of the game. It's precisely what the Lucettes are talking about throughout, that the Booker you're playing as is just another in a constant stream of Bookers, and they're unsure whether there is a variable that can be changed to alter how the preceeding events turn out (the coin flip, the choker). It reflects the major personal theme; is Booker just doomed to act according to his nature, or can he actually make a positive change. And if so, how?

If you find the idea that you're just one of infinite characters unsatisfying (which I don't, but some here clearly do) that's fine, but it's certainly not a hole in the plot.

Put themes to it if you want, it doesn't change the fact that it's still inconsistent with the way that game wraps up. It lazily uses multiple worlds theories and the grandfather paradox to make it come off as more intelligent and thought provoking than it actually is.The part at the very end with Liz and Booker is meaningless and can't actually happen with the characters that are doing it.

#46 Edited by NTM (7516 posts) -

@veektarius said:

While I do disagree with the crew (I guess I'm talking about Patrick and Brad here) it doesn't bother me if they downgraded it because they had trouble following the logic, even if the logic is objectively in place. It does bother me that no one challenged them on the claim that it was logically inconsistent and just accepted the argument on its face.

However, Patrick's argument about how the game's various subplots (e.g. the revolution) fall flat is totally on point, imo and ultimately justifies its eventual treatment in the awards.

I think that's part of the point in Infinite though. Some people aren't happy that the focus wasn't on those subplots, like racism and even religion or what have you, but the way I understood it, that's because that's not what the game was really about, it wasn't trying to explore those in great detail; everything was simply there for the eventual end. It was about the story of the main characters, and the alternate worlds.

That's the reason I felt Columbia wasn't as great as Rapture too, but then again, it's also what had me conflicted about it, because what it was about was extremely interesting and I loved it for that, but it also took away from what I loved about the original, and that's becoming truly invested in a singular world. What Infinite did was like "Yeah, that's that, this is this, but um... ALTERNATE WORLDS!"

It was less about exploring certain themes in the world of Columbia, and more about those themes simply belonging to a world that's not another.

#47 Posted by SpencerBoltz (85 posts) -

I feel like it's similar to reading philosophy. While you're reading it (playing the game in Bioshock's case) everything makes perfect sense and then as soon as you start trying to really analyze what's being said and get to the heart of what's going on in an external fashion, say by writing a critique, nothing makes sense anymore and it takes a while to really form an understanding of what's being said.

#48 Edited by NTM (7516 posts) -

@themasterds said:

"Comstock says he was at Broken Knee, but he lies! It was me and you Booker! I didn't fucking see him there!"

Pretty sure he never said that :P. Oh, and what you said about the world and characters, is what conflicts me about Infinite. I really love what they did with the characters and the alternate worlds, but yes, it did take away from the world of Columbia, and it's not what I expected, nor initially wanted, because I was hoping to go into Infinite and be completely immersed and entranced in another world by Irrational similar to Rapture, but that didn't happen, nor was it the point of the game.

#49 Edited by Xeiphyer (5608 posts) -

Game made perfect sense. I think it just flew over a lot of people's heads because of the quantum phyicsyness of the story and especially the ending. Despite what a lot of people think, it doesn't just make up nonsense to provide itself with an exit or to manipulate the plot, it actually follows specific rules based on our assumptions about quantum physics right now.

Not to say the story isn't flawed, it's definitely far from perfect, but it does make sense to me and to itself. They execute the rules of their universe properly.

#50 Posted by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

Oh, I just realized something:

Why does Booker have to drown? Isn't there some alternate reality where he doesn't have Elizabeth? Or where he doesn't go to war? Or he does, but he's super happy about his experiences?

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