The ending to Bioshock Infinite opens up the lore of the world that Irrational Games has created and gives their style of storytelling a reason to never end. They dangled the ending in front of us by naming the game “Infinite” and when announcing DLC for the title, the direction that story content could have went was tantalizing.
The first of the story based DLC, “Burial at Sea – Episode One” returns the player to Rapture, the setting of the original Bioshock from 2007. This time, you will still play as Infinite‘s Booker DeWitt and are accompanied once again by Elizabeth. Here in “Burial at Sea” Booker’s character is mostly unchanged. His direction as well as his flashback moments from Infinite are all here. However, Elizabeth is defined quite differently. In Rapture, Elizabeth is seemingly older, wiser, and has a darker edge to her. She is not the naive girl that you rescue from the tower.
The story begins with Elizabeth entering Booker’s office and asking him to help her to find a girl. Booker seems to have some hesitance to assist, but that only plays into what we know from Infinite already. Upon agreeing to help, they both walk out of his office and into the world of Rapture on New Year’s Eve 1958.
What struck me immediately was the vibrancy of Rapture just before the civil war. In the series’ history, we have only read or heard about what Rapture was like before the fall, but until “Burial at Sea” we have never seen it. Walking around and just watching people live was beautiful. Unlike the Rapture we have seen before, this one is filled with light and music, as opposed to darkness and terror. One woman I noticed right away was standing in front of a baby carriage and talking with another person. I was drawn back to the memorable scene in the original game when you walk down a watery corridor and see the shadow of a woman standing over a carriage and screaming out for it. There are nods to some of our favorite Splicers from the original game that I won’t ruin here, but when you meet a certain waiter, you should find yourself as giddy as I was. Moments like this are fan service at its best and really made me happy to explore what this living Rapture had to offer.
Unfortunately, we don’t spend much time in the bright world, and are soon cast to Fontaine’s drowned department store. The story takes you on a fetch quest to get a mask and the ability to enter Sander Cohen’s private art party. Once inside, Cohen can be found doing what he does best… He will soon interact with you and Elizabeth and provide more information on where this little girl can be found. This is where you enter the depths of Rapture, and it begins to feel a lot like the broken dystopia that we are familiar with. I urge you to really soak in that opening section because you will not see Rapture like that again.
In Fontaine’s, you’ll immediately meet some splicers who are murdering one another and the game begins to feel like home. If home for you is running through a darkened department store in search for the power to shoot ice from your hand while shooting at psychopaths who want to eat your face. Combat here is still the same as it was in Infinite including the Skyhook. There is a new weapon introduced toward the latter part of this story that is really fun, but it much like every weapon in the game will burn through the limited ammo that you have very quickly. As I ended up feeling while playing through Infinite the combat in the game gets in the way of the story that “Burial at Sea” is trying to tell. For a piece of content that was only 2 hours long, I kept wanting to get through it even faster.
That is my big gripe with this DLC. The return to Rapture was too short while being too long. The sections of Rapture that you explore are all new but I wasn’t compelled to see what was behind every door. I wanted to get to the end and see what the story had to offer. I got really tired of running around trying to find more Eve or health in order to get through the combat sections. If you take out the repeat gunfights that I played, how long would this have lasted? The game is a bit padded in length only by your search for resources. I think this is what inherently bothers me about the series as a whole. A beautiful world, with spectacular, weird characters that is held back by its core functionality. It really is to the game’s detriment and holds back my full enjoyment of what Irrational has to offer.
By the end of two hour story, questions are answered while new ones arise. When going into this content, I wondered if it was a splintered reality or if it fell into canon with Infinite. I won’t spoil anything but I think the way that the story draws everything into a cliffhanger ending was satisfying and has me eager to see where it goes in Episode Two.
Overall, I enjoyed the first story DLC for Bioshock Infinite. From beginning to end, the content is filled with fan service and interesting references to the series. Unfortunately, the scarcity of resources made me want to get out of Rapture as quickly as I could, but seeing the city before its fall will stick with me for a while. I expected a bit more of the noir touch after seeing Elizabeth as a darker character with some femme fatale radiance to her, but once you enter the void Rapture within Fontaine’s department store, you’re pretty much back in 2007’s Bioshock, which is okay by me.