Choice. As gamers, we take pride in our ability to have an impact on the games we play. It is what differentiates this medium from watching a movie or reading a book. For the most part, we dictate the direction of the narrative, the weapons we use and what line of morality we are willing to cross. Bioshock Remastered was not the first to offer these facets in games. It did, however, simplify and condense the gameplay experience so that it was more accessible to a wider audience than its predecessors.
Bioshock was originally released in 2007, with the Remastered version arriving in 2016 published by 2K, to PC, Xbox One, Playstation 4 and Switch. A truly wonderful and haunting game to experience, this is most definitely a game worth your time, but I am getting ahead of myself. Why should you play Bioshock Remastered in 2021?
“Is a man not entitled to the sweat of his brow”
Bioshock Remastered is set in the city of Rapture created by visionary Andrew Ryan. A city, free of the shackles of morality and inhibition, built at the bottom of the sea. The city was a haven for artists, inventors and mad scientists, resulting in incredible leaps in technology for the given time frame. But this is no utopia, despite Ryan’s hopes and thanks to the outbreak of a civil war, the city has been left dilapidated and its citizens turned into living weapons, misshapen shadows of their former selves.
You are free to roam the halls of Rapture, each room filled with debris and corpses. Yet they also retain enough details from its hay day that you can imagine what life was like before. The City contains many different areas for the player to discover, each with its own challenges and rewards, including new enemies, powers and gatherers to help or kill.
“A man chooses…a slave obeys.”
The player interacts with the world of Bioshock Remastered through Jack, the lone survivor of a plane crash, unwittingly thrust into a hostile world. Unable to return to the surface by himself, he must fight his way through rapture, seeking help from the few sane people that still live. Jack is a mostly blank slate, allowing the player to explore and react to the world without in-game commentary. He is able to make use of several standard weapon types such as a wrench, revolver and Tommy gun, however, Jack can also make use of plasmids, unthinkable powers unique to Rapture. Overall Jack is whoever the player makes him, allowing the player to experience the world themselves. This allows influencing the story how they wish instead of being in line with Jack’s character.
“We all make choices, but in the end our choices make us.”
Bioshock Remastered plays like a first-person survival game. The player must scavenge anything and everything to survive in Rapture, especially on the harder difficulties. Standard weapons like revolvers and shotguns can be found which can be upgraded as the game progresses. However, the unique element of Bioshock is plasmids. These powers can be used against enemies or to access specific areas. The player gets access to the shock plasmid first. It can be used to open doors, stun enemies or create pools of deadly electrified water. Enemies are fairly standard, making use of melee and ranged weapons, with plasmid wielders appearing later in the game. Plasmids are not cheap to acquire, however, requiring Adam to purchase. The process to get it can be quite difficult, however, in more ways than one.
There are, of course, some nitpicks with Bioshock Remastered. The combat can feel stiff at times and unfair at others. Enemy attack animations cannot be interrupted and there is no block against melee attacks. Enemies have incredible accuracy and open fire the second the player is seen. Given this, it can be very difficult to walk away from a fight unscathed. Another element that can be quite annoying is the hacking mechanic. This can range in difficulty quite widely regardless of apparent difficulty but also deals damage to the player for each failed attempt. Finally, there is the need to switch between weapon and plasmid modes, which can become a problem while in combat.
Overall Bioshock Remastered is an amazing game to play just for the storytelling and setting alone. The age of the game can lead to some minor gameplay issues. These, however, do not ruin the experience. If you enjoy good world-building, story and atmosphere, dive on into Bioshock.
Review by Shaun Elders
Bioshock Remastered has a beautiful world to experience with an emphasis on survival and choice. Give it a go if you love a good story and a decent challenge.