A breakdown of the first 5 minutes of BioShock Infinite
Yesterday, Irrational Games treated gamers to the first 5 minutes of BioShock Infinite gameplay, and I couldn’t help but watch it a few times. I have to give credit to Irrational for making the introduction of a game interesting; while everything we saw seemed pretty straightforward, there's a lot going on . What starts with Booker DeWitt in a row boat going to a lighthouse, and ultimately ends with him flying to Colombia, there is a ton of that BioShock-y, philosophical mind-screwing going on in-between.
This clip starts black with Elizabeth asking, “Booker, are you afraid of god?” This is followed by his response of, “No, but I’m afraid of you.” That sets up a fairly dark tone and mystery. The player starts wondering what it is about Elizabeth that Booker is so afraid of. To keep the mood going, this quote appears on the screen: “The mind of the subject will desperately struggle to create memories where none exist…”
The first 30 seconds truly capture that BioShock-esque allure we’ve all come to love. While the answers may not be clear as to what this quote is talking about, you know that you’ll find out before the game finishes; Levine would have it no other way.
BioShock Infinite begins off the coast of Maine in the year 1912. You, as DeWitt, are on a row boat during a rainy night. A man and a woman sit in front of you having a conversation in rain jackets. The man is rowing and the woman hands Booker a cigar-type box with information, cards, photos, coins and a gun.
It’s the conversation the two other people are having while the man rows closer to a light house that is foreboding. Besides arguing over the fact that the woman refuses to row, they are talking about a “thought experiment.” While it is unclear exactly what they talking about, I assume it is about Columbia.
- Man: “One goes into an experiment knowing one could fail.”
- Woman: “One doesn’t go into an experiment knowing one has already failed.”
So from the get-go, you are already getting multiple sides to the overarching problem or whatever it is they are talking about. Besides the cryptic nature of the conversation, they talk about Booker like he isn’t sitting right behind them. The first time he asks a question they completely ignore him. It is only after he disembarks from the boat that they acknowledge him.
- Woman: “Shall we tell him when we’re returning, that may give him comfort.”
- Booker: “Is somebody meeting me here?”
- Man: “I’d certainly hope so.”
- Woman: “It does seem to be a dreadful place to be stranded.”
At this point we realize that Booker has no idea what he is doing or even who he is supposed to make contact with. From the contents of the box, it appears that he is just learning that he has to extract Elizabeth and bring her to New York. Once he reaches the front door of the light house, there is this note there: “DeWitt – bring us the girl and wipe away the debt. THIS IS YOUR LAST CHANCE!"
We now know Booker’s motivation in all this. He’s got debt that he needs to get rid of. Apparently, this job given to him -- by possibly shady people -- will make everything better. With that said, this note makes me think he honestly has no idea what he’s gotten himself into.
Inside the lighthouse there are three very religious-themed posters:
- ‘Of thy sins, shall I wash thee?’
- ‘From Sodom, I shall lead thee’
- ‘To thine own land, shall I take thee’
My interpretation of these signs suggests that Booker is going to leave the corrupt Earth and enter the paradise of Columbia. Booker clearly has sins due to his debt and from just being human. The tone of the sign suggests it wants to clean him of his wrong ways. Sodom, in biblical texts, is a city where people would constantly and carelessly sin. The corruption became so vile that God had to cleanse the city with fire to destroy it. The voice of the sign wants to lead Booker away from the corruption he lives in. The sign wants to take him to where it comes from, somewhere far different than here or Sodom; some place like a paradise, like Columbia. This also ties in to Elizabeth's opening question.
During Booker’s hike up the lighthouse, he comes across a tied up corpse that has a sign around his neck that reads “Don’t disappoint us.” This sends a message to DeWitt that his employers aren’t screwing around, and possibly that the dead guy is who he is replacing. While Booker seems disturbed by this, he moves past it pretty quickly. This shows that Booker could be desensitized to death or that he realizes how important this mission is.
Using the card he received in the box, he is able to quickly solve the simple bell puzzle. The moment it’s done, red beams of light descend all around him with a sound that resembles a fog horn. A few confusing momentslater, a red chair appears for Booker to sit in. Once sitting, the chair straps him in, the floor gives way, he loses his gun, walls close in, boosters start up, and the clip ends. I can only assume the chair is some sort of rocket that will take him to Columbia.
If this is only the start to BioShock Infinite, I can’t wait to see where else this game takes us. The release simply can’t come soon enough.
Historian, teacher, writer, gamer, cheat master, and tech guru: follow on Twitter @AndrewC_GZ