Games

Bioshock: Beauty in experience

The reason Bioshock was more than just a game – The aesthetic art of story-telling.
Written by Eccentric Engine
5 min readPublished on
Bioshock

Bioshock

© daydalus.net

The original Bioshock game was an influential work of art for narrative games. It used its story to explore ideas about culture, politics and even game design itself. The Bioshock game required the player to descend into the underwater city of Rapture. Rapture was the perfect post-apocalyptic underwater city run by a cruel, paranoid madman called Andrew Ryan; but it was so beautifully designed that it left the players wanting to explore. Art based on a sort of 60’s sci-fi theme gave it a mix of kitschy humor and retro grandeur that made it both amusing and awe inspiring. Announced in 2010 Bioshock Infinite hurled the user from this underwater dystopia to the floating city of Columbia run by Zachary Comstock. Just like Rapture Columbia was an authoritarian place above the “Sodom” below which was founded to seek refuge from the invading foreign hoards (where *spoiler alert* you get to fight with a robot George Washington). Following its predecessor Bioshock Infinite was unequivocally a masterpiece.
Columbia is a man-made floating haven in the clouds set in the fantastical version of 1912 and is portrayed as a city that embodies turn of the century American Culture which is highly conservative, one with clear racial and class divide and treats its prophet and founders as deities in its own right which doesn’t really stray from the reality of the time. It’s a fascinating backstory. The game stands out for its gorgeous world building, it’s gorgeous or even unreal with bright open outdoor spaces which are in contrast to the dark and gloomy environments of Rapture from the original Bioshock. It’s a world where entire buildings are moving about in the sky and you fight the enemy at high speeds on the city skylines as you dangle high above the earth.
The user plays as Booker DeWitt a former detective down on his luck but now headed to Columbia on a mission to pay off a debt and find a young woman named Elizabeth and bring her back to New York. It’s not just the visual beauty of Bioshock Infinite that make it a success, the narrative opportunities that it offers from time to time are a highly effective gameplay element that the game capitalizes on. Much like the original Bioshock, this game relies on giving the player the conventions of choice and control and offer the players endless opportunities to choose who they wish to be. Along with the stories of DeWitt and Elizabeth and the twists, turns and setbacks in the game, BioShock Infinite’s storytelling continues to up the ante for video games.
Bright And Sunny, Yet Dark

Bright And Sunny, Yet Dark

© hoodedutilitarian.com

When building the world of Infinite the team gave themselves a challenge to create something which could display some of the most disturbing scenes on the most beautiful settings. The World of Infinite is oppressive but just doesn’t look that way. Twenty minutes into the game you are introduced to a beautiful world with floating vistas with all the possible colors in the rainbow being used to build the perfectly sunny day 4th of July small town Americana. But players soon realize that you don’t need darkness in the game to portray darkness. Irrational Games took the creative risk of leaving behind the world of Rapture to build a completely new world of Infinite with new characters and back stories which definitely paid off.
The studio used a heavily modified version of the Unreal Engine 3 to power the game and built some technologies from the ground up to make the world more believable and interesting to the player. The floating world technology helped the team to allow all of Columbia’s buildings zeppelins and barges to be in constant motion. The Pattern Matcher technology analysed the state of the game over time to detect patterns of behavior so the main characters of the game could speak and interact in an appropriate behavior adding to the narrative. The NPC Elizabeth could open rifts anywhere in time and pull objects into the current time which played a huge role in the interactive storyline. The Floating Worlds technology was built to keep the users at the edge of their seats since the very ground that they stand on could fall out of the sky at any time. Adding in the various enemies like the Gatling gun armed George Washington or the giant songbird become the least of a players worries to traverse the world of the game. It is what brought this unique interactive world to gamers, creating a canvas on which Ken Levine and his team have painted an intriguing story with many layers.
Not For The Faint Of Heart

Not For The Faint Of Heart

© bigbadbob113.com

Though the world is bright and beautiful, it’s morbid, but then again games in the BioShock series are dark and violent and not meant for the faint of heart. According to Polygon which reviewed the game 10/10 Irrational created an inspired, asymmetric action game full of huge environments, smart enemies, and more tools than a player could manage to play with one play through. The game world definitely qualifies as a part of the Bioshock series because it’s always about the relationship between the sublime and beautiful and it is what the world helps achieve exactly.