There are a handful of games that I hold really near and dear to me. Games that I replay endlessly with still the same adoration as I did the first time. So, allow me to share with you all some of my favourite games of all time and why they mean the world to me. To start it all off, I’m going to talk about one of my oldest favourites, Bioshock.
Welcome to Rapture
Bioshock is a 2007 game from Irrational Games. Created by Ken Levine, the game served as a spiritual successor to their previous System Stock series. While System Shock took a very futuristic sci-fi approach to its style, Bioshock went for more of a dystopian vibe, strongly inspired by Ayn Rand and George Orwell. The story itself is also incredibly inspired by the aforementioned writers.
The game centers around the player character Jack, who finds himself stranded in the underwater city of Rapture. The city was designed and run by the reclusive Andrew Ryan. But when the city introduced plasmids, (essentially magic powers), everything unraveled. When Jack arrives, the city is in complete disarray. As you explore the various parts of the city, you learn more and more about what happened and even about Jacks own ties to the underwater world.
The first element of the game that appealed to me, was its unique style. It has a very vintage but almost stream punk inspired look to it, featuring a prevalent use of Neoclassical architecture. On top of this, the designs of the games 2 major antagonists really drove my interest. First, that of the splicers. These are the most common enemies in the game and are what remains of the citizens of Rapture, who have been warped and twisted by their addition to plasmids. A lot of the Splicers sport tattered, vintage styled clothes, and some even wear incredibly creepy animal masks. The splicers are just such an iconic part of the game and manage to be both the easiest enemies in the game, but also one of the most terrifying all at once.
The other enemy design that really appealed to me, was of course, the Big Daddies. Their physical design, their role in the story, their sound design – just everything. While the Big Daddies didn’t have as much of a critical part in the story as I would have liked, their presence is such a huge part of the world building and its entirely clear why they have become such an iconic character in the world of gaming.
The Plot & Characters
The second element of the game that I love, is its plot. While you can most certainly just run and gun your way through the game and pay little to no attention to the plot, I really wouldn’t recommend it. The complex story of a utopian dream gone sour is just so well written, and yes, while you are essentially just wandering from location to location killing bad guys, it’s the characters and their stories you meet along the way that add so much depth to every place you experience.
From the story of the Little Sisters and how they came to be, to Dr Steinman’s obsession with unobtainable perfection, to the twisted artistic mind of Sander Cohen – almost every level of Bioshock introduces you to something and someone new, and this is what in my mind sets this game apart. Every element of Bioshock’s story and characters are incredibly nuanced and detailed, even down to the audio logs that you can pick up throughout the game. Some of these logs come from characters you never even meet and yet, are incredibly well written and acted.
The final element of Bishock that takes it above and beyond for me, is the combat. As I mentioned prior, you can absolutely play this game all guns blazing. There is a very generous arsenal of weapons to choose from, from the shotgun, to the crossbow, to the iconic wrench. But its in the plasmids where combat really changes up. Plasmids give you access to a ton of extra cool attacks like electro shock, telekinesis and incinerate. You can power these up with Eve, which is a consumable liquid in a syringe. Able to equip up to 4 of these at a time, you can really do some awesome combos with these, as well as utilising them in the environment (i.e., melting ice with increate, or shocking people standing in water).
Lastly, there are Gene Tonics. These are other pick ups that can directly impact your combat and gameplay depending on which ones you equip. The best thing about all these options is you can really cater your combat style to how you want to approach the instance. Whether you want to lob in some grenades and shoot up the place. Or, hack a drone and lure the enemies over some water to shock them first. Any and all options are the right option in Bioshock, and I just love how open the game feels regarding combat.
Would you kindly wrap it up?
Bioshock is a game that I have replayed so many times. And despite the ending never really changing, I can’t help but feel each play through was still different. Whether I want to be evil and harvest the Little Sisters for extra ADAM, or follow a more righteous path, Rapture always welcomes me back with open arms. And I will forever be grateful for Ken Levine and the team, for creating this masterpiece of a game.