BioShock Infinite

Hey look! I can play and review a game without it taking forever. Here's a game that's (probably) the last in a series of not-RPGs. True to form, this is still not an RPG, but at least this one ends well.

Screenshot of some BioShock Infinite gameplay.

BioShock Infinite starts off with arriving at a lighthouse and using it to enter a city, just like BioShock. But this time, it's a floating city in the sky. You get acquainted with the local culty mumbo jumbo, when the locals become hostile for no obvious reason, other than they have identified you as "the false shepard". Turns out that the leader of the city is some kind of Christian-American cult prophet. Everyone starts shooting at you, and you've barely done anything yet! You're there to get a girl, but no one knows that yet!

The gameplay is the shallow Bioshock magic shooty routine. You know, the totally not RPG (ugh...) gameplay. I say shallow, because you're running around picking up things and using them immediately; there's no inventory aspect to it. There's also no stat points, either. There are weapon upgrades that you buy with money, half of which you collect from trash cans and bodies of people you didn't kill. (It makes me wonder if money is even worth anything here if everyone throws it away.) The plasmids of the original are called vigors, which are drunk, rather than injected. I'm not sure how they work, or where they come from.

Screenshot of the tower where the girl was.

You eventually get the girl, then start running around the city, being stopped at many turns. This girl, Elizabeth, can manipulate spacetime. With this, one of several things can be swapped into a fight. Combine this with the hooks and rails that meander around the city, there's quite a bit of mobility to gameplay. This freshens up things a bit, but I'm still mostly shooting people, and (for the most part) getting by. I dislike how in the second part of the game, it's a string of large fights against (what seems like) armies.

Unlike other games, Elizabeth is not a burden to have around. This game does not end up being a big escort mission. She makes herself useful. In combat, she finds ammo and health. When walking around, she finds money, almost always after I've spent most of mine. However, the story would routinely separate us. There is a man and a woman that appear from time to time. They seem to want to help you, but don't provide much advice. Apparently, one discovered the means (some quantum mechanics thing) by which the city floats.

What baffles me is that Ken Levine "left" his studio after this game released. He said that the stress of getting this out the door was just too much. The publisher, Take-Two, was rumored to bend over backwards to keep him. I say "left" the studio, but it was really renamed (again). I guess he wants to make something that's kinda like an indie game, but not made by actual indie devs.

MILD SPOILERS AHEAD!

Screenshot of the mysterious man and woman, along with Elizabeth.

There are occasional flashbacks to some dingy office. There is a man banging at the door. He keeps saying "Bring the girl, and wipe away the debt," or something along those lines.

There's a strong vein of dissent in the city, manifested by an organization called "Vox Populi". They seek to end the segregation and disenfranchisement that exists in the city. Since you are also hated by the establishment, you figure you're on the same side, and join up. Due to impossibilities in completing your objectives (dead men don't talk), you suggest traveling to another universe to complete them. Before you know it, you've traveled through too many universes to the wrong end of the Vox Populi. Later on, you go through doors in the multiverse, where I feel like I'm playing a serious version of The Stanley Parable. In the end, you discover some disturbing secrets about who you (the player character) are, who the prophet is, and who exactly Elizabeth is.

Screenshot of countless lighthouses, and Elizabeth.

This is (probably) the most ending heavy not-RPG that I've played. The story weaves in and out through the game, and ties neatly at the end. I'm disappointed that every time Elizabeth asks "Are you sure you want to do this?", there is no option to rethink and say "You're right, we shouldn't." I thought of changing things, but dissatisfied that there were no options to choose. I guess that's why every BioShock game isn't an RPG.