Okay, it’s time to talk about it. About what, you ask? About how totally bananas the violence in BioShock Infinite is.
The beginning of this game is astonishing. Flat-out. It’s one of the most effective, intoxicating game-introductions I’ve seen in recent memory.
So let’s to do an exercise. Let’s imagine watching the opening of the game as if we’d never played a video game before.
For this exercise, you’re not a person who plays games. You’re just some person. You like movies and TV, you like stories, and you’re interested in seeing what this game is all about. Maybe you heard about it on NPR, or saw a big story in the New York Times. It got you curious.
You fire up the game.
Opening scene: You’re on a boat, in the rain.
The people on the boat are speaking in riddles, and you’re already intrigued.
You enter a lighthouse.
It’s all religious portent…
…reflections in the holy water…
…Dang this is cool. You come upon a guy who has been tied to a chair and shot.
Okay, kind of bloody… the blood on the floor seems a bit over the top… but hey, alright. Dude is dead. Moving right along. You ring some bells at the top of the tower, Close Encounters-style, and crazy red light fills the clouds.
Then you climb aboard a rocket ship:
and launch into the clouds, where you see this:
accompanied by what is just the most haunting, lovely piano theme. You go through a place that looks like this:
And it’s all so beautiful and mysterious, and then you come into the city and it looks like this:
And at this point you’re pretty much like:
And you can just walk around drinking it in, and you’re eating all kinds of candy and hot dogs and there’s this amazing carnival tutorial section where you can launch magic at a hidden devil and there are posters, so many posters, posters everywhere, you read them all and see all these names and brands and colors, and you keep having to just sort of stop and stare, and there are flowers everywhere, and a woman offers to sell you a flower to stick in your lapel and then there’s this huge robot dude standing there and oh my god it’s a barbershop quartet singing the Beach Boys and whaaat…
…I mean you’re probably in full-on overwhelm here, you’ve got mysterious twins offering you weird choices, a telegram with a weirder prediction, and a sign telling people that there’s a “false shepherd”…