In Memoriam: Bioshock Infinite

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– Tom Heath

If you’re a regular reader of our In Memoriam articles, you’d know from previous entries that they require spoiler warnings. We discuss the deaths of characters and discussing the deaths of characters is pretty much the very definition of a spoiler.

To honour the fallen of Bioshock Infinite, I am going to have to put the mother of all spoiler warnings up here. If you thought spoiling that the last season of Game of Thrones ended on the revelation that Jon Snow was really Keyser Soze was a big deal, then you ain’t ready for the bombs I’m about to drop on you.

Scroll past this photo of me being super excited on a day out doing some hard-hatting journalism if you can handle the heat.

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Not even sorry about that pun.

To cut a long, and mind-bendingly incredible, story short: Bioshock Infinite involves parallel universes. The player character, Booker DeWitt, has been enlisted to overthrow a dictator named Comstock and rescue Elizabeth, Comstock’s adopted daughter, who is being groomed as a dimension manipulating weapon to destroy the world.

By the end, it is revealed that Comstock and Booker are the same person, just from different universes and shaped by a single decision: whether or not they accepted or rejected a baptism. Elizabeth, as it turns out, is still Comstock’s adopted daughter but she’s also Booker’s biological one, since Comstock used dimension hopping to steal her from him (long story).

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Not even going to try to explain what’s going on in this picture.

Anyway, Elizabeth uses her omnipotence to place herself in all the dimensions where Booker accepted the baptism and became Comstock. She then murders him immediately after doing so, theoretically eliminating all the Comstock threads and leaving the Booker ones intact.

With me so far? I hope so, because I’m not waiting.

So, that’s one hell of a death right there. I mean, ALL of the possible Comstocks? “That’s the most deaths there ever was,” I hear you say.

Oh my friends, it gets so much worse.

You see, in Bioshock Infinite, when two universes are brought together, say by bringing a person unknowingly out of one and into another, the new element needs to process the change. So you kind of desperately make up a reason for you being in this new place and forget where you came from.

This is how the game starts, with Booker on a row-boat and believing he needs to rescue a girl, who turns out to be Elizabeth, to pay off a gambling debt. But this isn’t really why he’s there at all, he just remembers having a gambling debt in his own universe, that he lost a girl and that his boat friends are telling him to get her back. The rest writes itself.

lutece boat

How’d I get here? Oh right, missing girl debt repayments, that makes sense for being in the middle of nowhere on the ocean…

Now, this gets interesting whenever you die in combat. When you die there is no “press X to continue”, no retry button. Instead, Elizabeth is seen shaking you awake, injecting you with some fluid and suddenly you’re back in the fight.

You with me here? She didn’t just pump heroin into your veins and you’re a spring chicken again. She’s taken another Booker from another parallel dimension and replaced your ass. And you, the player, have just filled in the blanks with context so that it makes sense that you would be back alive.

That sound you’re now hearing? That’s what awesome sounds like.

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I spent a long time badly photoshopping this the other day, so by gum I’m going to use it again!

So, we have the eternal extermination of Booker’s alternate, tyrannical self; the occasional bringing of other selves to replace the dead ones; that’s the worst that it gets right? There is absolutely no way this could get any more messed up.

Well,  Bioshock Infinite is here to remind you that you are very, very wrong.

You see, all the parallel univeres have things called constants and variables. Essentially, some things are the same no matter what universe you’re in while others can change.

Remember those guys from the boat? They’re called the Luteces and they’ve made it their job to test which things are constants and which are variables.

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Their creepy, creepy job…

At one point, they ask Booker to flip a coin. The result is then tallied on the board that you see them wearing in the above picture. You may notice that all the tallies are on one side, meaning the coin always lands the same way. It is a constant.

What that also tells us is that the Luteces have tested this theory at least 110 times. Meaning they’ve checked with 110 Bookers; 110 Bookers who have all died trying to take down Comstock.

So, we have eternal extermination of his potential selves, forcibly being taken and thrown into battle to replace his previous fallen predecessors, all of which happens after at least 110 deaths already.

Here’s to the man who just couldn’t catch a break, no matter what universe he found himself in.

RIP Booker DeWitt

Tom is still recovering from the mind-splosion that was Bioshock Infinite two years after playing it. Join him in his recovery on Twitter: @tomdheath. LoadScreen is also this cool new thing on Twitter, so follow that too: @load_screen.

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