Burial at Sea Episode 2, Part 2

This game is taking much longer than I expected. There are too many writing topics piling up as I play. If I save them all until I’m done, I’m either going to write a 20,000-word blog post or walk away leaving many ideas unvoiced. I don’t much care for either option.

So let’s dig in, and let’s start with something that’s bothered me from the start:

Am I supposed to understand why Elizabeth is so fixated on Sally? And if I have to ask that question, isn’t that a sign of a flaw in the game?

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Burial at Sea Episode 2, Part 1

I finally sat down last week to start playing Burial at Sea Episode 2. Again. I’m starting on round three, now that I think of it, but this is it! Third time’s a charm! Definitely going to finish this time!

The reasons for my many restarts aren’t important. What matters to me is the perspective I’ve gained through this exercise in repetition. Developing a critical, objective eye is difficult. When you love a genre or series, you run this risk of letting enthusiasm blind you to its faults. Re-reading, re-watching, and re-playing all help to temper that enthusiasm with cool, dispassionate objectivity.

Playing through the opening to Episode 2 multiple times has done just that. My first time through I was too starry-eyed to see anything clearly. It was fun, but it was like being a fat little boy in a candy shop (and, for the record, I’ve actually been a fat little boy in a candy shop, so I speak from experience). I was thoroughly “engaged”, but it wasn’t, shall we say, “healthy”.

Burial at Sea Episode 2 is an enjoyable game, but so far, it’s not without significant flaws, one of which may be Elizabeth herself.

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Rapture Revisited Part 10: A Dark and Brutal Symphony

Best. Ending. Ever.

Okay, I’m biased. Maybe it wasn’t quite the best ending, but it was easily one of my favorites. BioShock advanced the state of the art of game design, prompting deep reflection on the notions of agency and control.

Not everyone sees it that way. Opinions vary widely amongst players, some of whom were disappointed with BioShock’s narrative twist and what it said about their choices. In fact, to call them “choices” at all is to step into the discussion on an openly contested point: Many players and critics alike hold that any perceived sense of control in the game is an illusion.

BioShock has its flaws, but a lack of agency isn’t one of them. The control it offers is very real and reasonable, though individual presumptions about games—and narrative games in particular—might make it seem otherwise.

To see how this might be true, we need to put agency and control in proper perspective. It would help if we could move away from comparisons between games and films or novels and instead consider a more apt basis for comparison: orchestral music.

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Rapture Revisited Part 9: The Shame of “Easy Mode”

I’m going to share my secret shame. One of them, anyway.

A while back I posted on my Tumblr complaining that BioShock seemed much more difficult than the first time I played it. Ever since then—and please don’t think less of me for saying this, but…

I lowered the difficulty. I’ve been playing on “easy” mode.

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Little Sisters in Tenenbaum's Care

Rapture Revisited Part 7: Out of the Uncanny Valley

My tour of Olympus Heights provoked the strongest emotions of any chapter thus far. It began with a welcome and cathartic sigh of relief when I awoke to find all the little sisters I’d saved safe and relatively sound in Dr. Tenenbaum’s care. The reunion provided a welcome counterpoint to the many levels of tension, panic, and unflinching violence.

So I wonder: What does the orphanage looks like for players who harvested the girls?

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