We Need To Go Deeper: A Reflection on the Community's Reaction to Bioshock Infinite

The discussion in this thread may go into spoiler territory. You've been warned.

Bioshock Infinite is the Inception of video games.

On the latest Bombcast, Brad alluded that the game reminded him of that movie (4/2/13 - 8:50). I heard that long before I had even purchased the game, but now that I've completed it, I completely agree with that sentiment.

It's the shot that made everyone in the theater go "fuck!"

(EDIT: Welp, turns out Brad was referring to a different movie, titled Primer. Either way, my opinion still stands. Thanks to @elwoodan for the correction!)

Whether you think the comparison undersells or oversells Bioshock Infinite is irrelevant. It has nothing to do with the quality or plot of either of the two stories. Both projects had massive budgets to work with, and they have been successful at being thought provoking to their audiences. It just so happened that the audience has been massive.

Inception was a cool thing. It was a movie that everyone absolutely had to see because everyone was talking about the ending and coming up with their own theories about the story. It's basically the same with Bioshock Infinite, if not a bit more complex.

It drove me crazy when I saw people I follow on Twitter finish the game and freak out over the ending when I haven't played it yet. This encouraged me to buy it and play it over the course of two days. I played it on PS3, because I play most of my games on a Playstation console nowadays, and really enjoyed it. I know that the PC version is, graphically speaking, the best version of the game, but that isn't an option for me. But according to the Digital Foundry, the game runs smoother on PS3 than on 360. That's the Dave Lang touch, I guess.

Regardless of what blurry mess the console version of the game is compared to the PC version, I still found the world of Colombia completely stunning. It's one of the few games where I stopped playing just to admire the art style. The number of art assets and animations that they did made me think, "this game just looks expensive." In the grand scheme of things, I feel like the low-resolution graphics don't really matter that much. I still felt what the game wanted me to feel by the end of it, so the game accomplished its goal.

There are so many things that Infinite gets right. The extremely believable characters, incredible world, great plot, it all feels so well done and every part of the game feels handled with care. Ken Levine can go write literature if he really wanted to, but the fact that he wrote an incredible interactive story is just as great. Warner Bros. gave Christopher Nolan money to do whatever he wanted to do since those Batman movies were successful, and Inception came out of it. It's a similar deal with 2K and Levine, or so it seems. But I guess that isn't the point.

Seeing people on message boards pick apart the story has been a lot of fun. I find it a lot more interesting than any of the Inception discussions, mostly because it's more than "is Cobb dreaming/in reality." There are so many constants and variables to keep track of in Infinite and more than one way to interpret different plot points that allow many theories to exist. It's so impressive that a video game can spark all of these in-depth discussions, and I wish it would happen more often than it does.

It just makes me happy that at least someone is willing to fund this huge, AAA-budget title that has a lot more meaning than "hey, go shoot this guy in the head and level up and stuff." And the fact that everyone is talking about it makes me equally as happy. I hope the sales of the game are enough to prove that you don't need multiplayer and a generic premise to sell a big budget game.

10 Comments
10 Comments
Posted by Elwoodan

Brad said in the spoilercast the movie he was talking about was Primer, which, if you haven't seen, I fully recommend. It deals with similar themes, but in a much, much more complicated fashion.

Edited by MetalGearSunny

@elwoodan said:

Brad said in the spoilercast the movie he was talking about was Primer, which, if you haven't seen, I fully recommend. It deals with similar themes, but in a much, much more complicated fashion.

Yay, the whole setup for my post is ruined! I must have missed that part of the show. God damn it.

Edited by MetalGearSunny

@elwoodan: Alright, made an edit. Thanks, man!

Posted by Tireyo

Wow, the gamer in you came out today.

Posted by Elwoodan

@metalgearsunny:

Seeing people on message boards pick apart the story has been a lot of fun. I find it a lot more interesting than any of the Inception discussions, mostly because it's more than "is Cobb dreaming/in reality." There are so many constants and variables to keep track of in Infinite and more than one way to interpret different plot points that allow many theories to exist. It's so impressive that a video game can spark all of these in-depth discussions, and I wish it would happen more often than it does.

Your point is still a strong one, it's amazing how few films/games cause such an immediate reaction in people; it goes far beyond just discussing a story and has everyone scribbling down timelines and comparing notes, just like inception did. I love it!

Posted by MetalGearSunny

Wow, the gamer in you came out today.

So did the shitty writer, apparently.

Posted by MetalGearSunny

@elwoodan said:

@metalgearsunny:

Seeing people on message boards pick apart the story has been a lot of fun. I find it a lot more interesting than any of the Inception discussions, mostly because it's more than "is Cobb dreaming/in reality." There are so many constants and variables to keep track of in Infinite and more than one way to interpret different plot points that allow many theories to exist. It's so impressive that a video game can spark all of these in-depth discussions, and I wish it would happen more often than it does.

Your point is still a strong one, it's amazing how few films/games cause such an immediate reaction in people; it goes far beyond just discussing a story and has everyone scribbling down timelines and comparing notes, just like inception did. I love it!

Yeah, it's been awesome for sure. The last time I remember a community doing something similar was probably Fez, but that had nothing to do with a narrative.

Posted by EquitasInvictus

What was extremely refreshing about BioShock Infinite was how nicely it was able to tie everything in the franchise together as a sequel (or threequel, as some would put it counting BioShock 2 as a sequel) while having its own completely fresh narrative (while some people picked it apart and oversimplified it to being a repeat of BioShock 2, at no point was I conscious of this enough to be put off by the story at all, so I definitely don't subscribe to that argument). I never expected it to take the turns it did, but they pulled it off convincingly in the best way possible since it left me thinking even more than I did for the original BioShock and BioShock 2.

I've seen some good stories in shooters, but I think I'll remember this as a personal watershed. Hopefully this invigorates even more creative storytelling for big budget games.

Posted by Vinny_Says

I'm seriously wondering if Take2 would have allowed Ken to go on this grand adventure in game making if they didn't have Rockstar to shovel money into their coffers every year or so....

Glad things turned out so well.

Posted by MetalGearSunny

What was extremely refreshing about BioShock Infinite was how nicely it was able to tie everything in the franchise together as a sequel (or threequel, as some would put it counting BioShock 2 as a sequel) while having its own completely fresh narrative (while some people picked it apart and oversimplified it to being a repeat of BioShock 2, at no point was I conscious of this enough to be put off by the story at all, so I definitely don't subscribe to that argument). I never expected it to take the turns it did, but they pulled it off convincingly in the best way possible since it left me thinking even more than I did for the original BioShock and BioShock 2.

I've seen some good stories in shooters, but I think I'll remember this as a personal watershed. Hopefully this invigorates even more creative storytelling for big budget games.

I completely agree with you.

But also, I hardly remember anything from Bioshock 2. Didn't care for that game at all. It was decent considering why the game was made, but it's not a memorable game to me.

I'm seriously wondering if Take2 would have allowed Ken to go on this grand adventure in game making if they didn't have Rockstar to shovel money into their coffers every year or so....

Glad things turned out so well.

Maybe. I assume the Bioshock games have been successful enough to warrant it, too.