Heralded for its atmosphere and twisted characters, Bioshock is a highly concentrated game. Every desk, every suitcase, and every trashcan holds small morsels of the underwater city’s tragic descent. Exploration and discovery are heavily contrasted by the frantic combat, thus making it very difficult to focus on both. Rapture is a dark place, so dark like the gritty, black games of that era in gaming; it’s almost becoming a period piece. The wonder of the initial experience is gone, now it’s routine.
Entering the world of Bioshock four years after its seat in the spotlight, it feels desolate and lonely. It’s as if the inhabitants of Rapture have been performing their patterns for nearly half a decade, exhausted and angry. They have to keep re-applying fresh blood, smearing drywall dust, and fastening those white masks to their faces. All in service of a curious guest seeking to hear the story once again.
The little sisters, they’re angry, forced to stay young and attached to those slow-moving monsters waiting for an excuse to pummel something. The helmeted monsters and the young girls don’t talk anymore. They’ve seen each other fail time and time again. “Big Daddy” no more, he wishes one day the sister won’t be there, freeing him to remove that metal can and lie down, maybe rest for awhile. She is aimless now, no father-figure to guide her. Both of them are now broken and without an appetite.
Even Andrew Ryan himself is tired. He’s growing old, he finds it harder to hold down the button on his intercom, he contemplated ending his life before his last moment of human contact. He’s fake, he doesn’t run Rapture anymore, nobody does. He has nothing to condemn or punish anymore, everything goes as planned.
The denizens of Rapture are distant, numbed by the job. Their actions show no confidence or exertion. They know the line is drawn without any forks, what was to change? An immense weight slowed their motivation, constantly wondering when their time would come. “Can we stop?” they would ask with their unwavering stares. But no one would answer.
Bioshock isn’t the world it used to be. All has been said, seeping every drop of significance out of it. It’s better to read about its glory days rather than to spend time with it. Without nostalgia for it, Bioshock is a dying machine on its last burst of electricity. One can only imagine what it was like, not what it is.
Image courtesy of Dead End Thrills