BioShock Infinite

DISCLAIMER: It’s no secret that this blog doesn’t get very high viewership, or that writing down my rambling and snarky thoughts on these works of art is more for my benefit than anyone else’s. As a consequence, please note that this will go on for much longer than normal.

And once more with feeling – your playing experience will be very much spoiled by this review. If you just came here for a yea or nay, you should play the game, by all means – you’ll probably enjoy at least some parts of it.

References within references within references…this was fun to make.

It’s impossible to talk about BioShock Infinite without talking about its lineage. The game is the sequel to 2007’s BioShock, one of the best known and most influential games in history. BioShock is a true work of art, and unlike some other games which share that distinction it’s also a really fun game in its own right.

 

BioShock is too big a topic to go into here. I really don’t want to tell you to just get it for yourself, so I’ll give you the lightning version: A standard, AFGNCAAP hero discovers a city under the Atlantic Ocean, built with steampunk technology in the thirties by a group of devout Randian objectivists. Since Randian objectivism is stupid and unworkable, the city has collapsed years before you arrived, and you have to battle the crazed citizenry to escape and discover your connection with the city.

The genius aspect of the game, however, comes in its nuanced and subtle commentary on the concept of linear FPS gameplay – every aspect of the gameplay had an excellently designed undertone of “Say, why does this happen in video games? Wouldn’t it be weird in real life?”, and that’s what really made the game a classic. Of course, when BioShock 2 was kicked out the door of Irrational Games in 2009, it didn’t have anywhere near this level of creativity and passion behind it, and suffered as a result.

BioShock Infinite seems to be creative director Ken Levine’s way of atoning for this lackluster attempt at a sequel, by putting the concept of a sequel to a popular game under the same scrutiny that the original subjected the FPS/RPG to…if you managed to follow that last thought. My point is that though the game is a complete work of art on its own, it was designed from the name up to be an interesting sequel, and so those without experience of the original should keep this in mind.

Anyway, I’m in two minds about the game itself. I admire quite a lot of what it does, with its emphasis on story and characters, its generally well-paced and surprising narrative, its spectacular design, and above all, its huge amount of fun and interesting ideas. But the problem is how all these ideas are brought together – the execution just makes the game feel like a bunch of good ideas haphazardly connected, and they don’t really work as a single, assembled piece. Make no mistake about what I’m saying here – BioShock Infinite is a great game, full of memorable moments that will lead to discussion decades down the line. But it’s also too flawed for me to really call it a good one. Let’s talk about that more in the recap.

Follow me down, folks!

We begin in the year 1912, with our hero finding a lighthouse in the middle of the ocean, where he finds out he has to locate a little girl and bring her back safely. The game starts as it means to go on: Having the exact same premise and major story beats as the previous games in the series, while mixing up the specifics just enough to tell an original story.

Case in point: While the lighthouse in the first game brought you to an underwater city founded on principles of objectivism and roaring twenties excess, the lighthouse in this game brings you to a floating city founded on principles of American exceptionalism and turn-of-the-century traditional values. I actually really like this idea – it’s probably the best way to handle a sequel to BioShock, and it expects the player to think critically about it – though it leads to a lot of creative decisions that will be baffling to someone unfamiliar with the other games.

Anyway, the flying city is called Columbia, and it is amazing to behold. I’m one of those people who love to spend lots of time just wandering around richly-designed environments in a game, admiring the attention to detail and trying to suss out little jokes by the developers. Both of these are in great evidence as you wander through the floating cobblestoned streets of Columbia. There are mountains of little bits that foreshadow later plot points – too many to list, and I sort of don’t want to ruin the surprise for anyone who wants to play the game after reading this – but they all feel natural in the environment, thanks to some amazing artwork that combines high resolution with wide imagination. My favorite part of the floating city is that you can actually jump off the side whenever you want – you get knocked back onto the ground Bastion-style, but it’s a tiny detail that really adds a sense of freedom to your exploration.

The only problem I have up to now is our hero, and his reactions to all this. You see, though the first game’s plot hinged on you being a complete blank slate, this one gives your character lots more than a face and a name: Specifically, you’re a no-nonsense cop who was taken off the force after he crossed too many lines, and is now a tough New York gumshoe who’s down on his luck enough to take a job he doesn’t want. The game very pointedly shows your character’s reflection early on,. You look just different enough from Harrison Ford to avoid legal action.

“Get off my Millenium Falcon! It’s the ship that hates snakes in less than twelve parsecs! Prepare to meet attack ships off the shoulder of Orion in hell…ugh, forget it!”

To add insult to the injury of this horribly generic hero, the developers are so invested in their commentary on gaming that they literally have him comment on the things he sees in the game. Because they’re still invested in this story, these comments are usually restricted to Hayterian grunts and mild sarcasm. This has worse than no reason to be here, as it breaks the immersion and doesn’t inform us about anything at all.

But despite these minor annoyances, all is pretty much well for the first half-hour or so of the game. You can’t spend an entire game wandering around sightseeing, though (more on that later), and so the story begins to work toward the gameplay: It .urts out Columbia was founded by Zebediah Heston Comstock, a war veteran who became a born-again Christian, and created the floating city so he could keep all the minorities out – the American dream! He also did some creative restructuring of monotheism, worshipping a trinity of him, the Founding Fathers, and his daughter Emily Elizabeth Pay-Attention-To-My-Lack-Of-Last-Name – the girl who you’ve been tasked to collect. Our hero Ford Harrison is also part of the myth, as the Antichrist figure who will try to tempt Emily Elizabeth to sin. So when you finally show your face in public, you’re discovered, and the police start shooting at you.

The problem with the lightning-fast switch from casual exploration to tense FPS action is that it’s jarring for the flow of the story, and makes the lively environment feel much less real because of how easily it’s transformed into a barren level in a video game.

But this finally brings us to the gameplay itself. For this opening section, it’s…okay. The gameplay is nothing new even to the BioShock series (A choice of two guns, a standard progression of enemies, environmental hazards, and so on), and the addition of various magic abilities don’t really spice things up. It’s also a bit too easy, since there are items in every nook and cranny to reward diligent explorers. The attacks on enemies can get a bit too brutal for my tastes, and the suicidal tactics of the apparently normal citizenry make it very hard not to drop an L-N-D-bomb when discussing it.

It’s the Pretense Police, here to crack down on me for even mentioning ludonarrative dissonance!

By the way, for those keeping score, that was three sentences out of the 1,250+ words up to now devoted to the gameplay, and this is a good thing.

Anyway, you also have new magic powers in the game. These include antigravity, the blink-teleport from Dishonored, and…tentacles that push your enemies around (don’t look at me like that). The problem is that these magic abilities were one of the cornerstones of the original BioShock’s deconstructive story. The backstory said that when the magic juices were discovered the people began to abuse them like drugs, and banning them only made the demand higher, which led to the city being atmospherically abandoned to all but the whacked-out addicts of the drug, who serve as the primary enemies. Here, though, the magic juices are just sorta there, and it’s just plain lazy storytelling to avoid the question of how they can exist in a functioning society like the city of Columbia.

Speaking of which, the city stops functioning pretty damn quickly as the gameplay shifts into gear, and Harrison begins a rampage across Columbia to find Emily Elizabeth. Aside from a few little enclaves off the main path of the gameplay, we barely see any civilians for the next long while…with one notable exception: the Quantum Twins.

“Are we cleverly metafictional…”
“Or annoyingly repetitive?”
“It’s all a matter of perspective.”

The Quantum Twins are a lot like the G-Man from Half-Life – shadowy figures who continuously show up at various points in the game with no regard for the laws of physics, and who have a greater role in the events of the game and the protagonist’s life than at first glance. Unlike the G-Man, they aren’t as classy – they spend most of their time engaging in the same snarky humor as Harrison.

But the twins live up to their name, too: Their main function in the story is to justify the use of “quantum mechanics” as it’s so often used in stories – to justify anything outlandish that happens in the plot. We’ll get more on this later as it is revealed, and it’s some intelligent adaptation of current theories on chance, reality and time travel – but it can get preposterous at times. On one occasion, the Quantum Sister talks about how she was able to get Columbia to float. “Using quantum levitation, an atom can be suspended indefinitely. If it works for an atom, then why can’t it work for a city?” She asks. If you don’t know enough science to answer that question, I’ll sum it up: Because atoms, molecules and large collections of molecules (like cities) have completely different properties on the subatomic level, which is usually dependent on their bonding structure, which is the reason why a meaningful system of teleportation or invisibility is still unworkable by our current understanding of…

…wait, what the hell am I doing? Why do I have to talk about quantum theory in this game about a hundred-year-old adventure to save a girl from her fantastical and fanatical prison? As I said earlier, the biggest problem with the game is that it has too many ideas to form a clear, cohesive story, and the deeper we get into the story, the more obvious this becomes.

Anyway, after all that, back to the game. Harrison gets to Emily Elizabeth’s Rapunzellian tower via a fun and exhilarating acrobatic sequence, where you surf on patently impossible magnetic rails (they work by quantum, dammit!) while listening to Zebediah Comstock blabber on about how he knows all about you, how your sins can’t be forgiven, and how this will be important later. The rail surfing sequence is really good, and once again it feels like they couldn’t use this really good idea to its fullest because of how much they wanted to cram in there.

Wheeeeee!

There’s a nice buildup sequence as you ascend Emily Elizabeth’s tower, showing how she’s been subjected to years of rigorous observation and experimentation. This means – that’s right, folks – we’ve got ourselves a Little Miss Ethereal. Specifically, one who can create rips in the fabric of spacetime – but, as with so many other things in this first act of the story, that’s not important right now.

What is important is that when you finally break in and meet her, it’s revealed she has a giant animal protecting her every move…Big Bird.

Get it, folks? Like the Big Daddy from the first BioShock? We get to rip ourselves off because quantum!

After a pretty fun chase scene (I have absolutely no problem with cinematic physics as long as they’re used sparingly, like they are here), you are nearly killed, but are brought back to life when you spend enough money to sacrifice a goat to the twin deities of Foreshadowing and Quantum. This is one of the better integrations of the story and gameplay. It pays off later, naturally, but I don’t like how often I’ve been forced to say that phrase. Hot Fuzz was a perfect example of how to do it right – all those jokes and plot points would pay off later, but each setup worked just fine as a joke or plot point on its own. That’s right folks, there’s your back-of-the-box quote. “I wish this game was more like Hot Fuzz.”

Finally, after all that, we get to meet our main character. No, it’s not Harrison – it’s Emily Elizabeth, and she does a good job balancing an emotional character arc with the convoluted story around her. She’s not as bad as your typical Little Miss Ethereal, as her character channels a combo platter of Disney Princesses. She strikes a competent balance between Belle from Beauty and the Beast, Rapunzel from Tangled, and Janey-come-lately Elsa from Frozen, who also has phenomenal cosmic powers that are far beyond her control due to her isolated childhood.

And so we get a pretty long sequence of her letting it go, letting it go, being one with the wind and sky. She’s overjoyed to be finally outside in the world – even if her isolation gives her free rein to question all the institutionalized racism and provincialism of Columbia. It’s a nice sequence, especially since it ends just as the fists get a bit too hammy, when you and Emily Elizabeth are discovered and start to get in a firefight.

Emily Elizabeth’s additions to the gameplay are a really good indicator of why I don’t think the game works. It’s clear she’s meant to be a useful and endearing partner without making things too easy. The problem is the lack of refinement for the gameplay, which means making things too easy is exactly what she does. This wouldn’t be so bad if she didn’t also have the ability to use her L-M-E powers to create infinite amounts of terrain perfectly suited for contextual kills, which makes things even easier no matter what the difficulty. It’s easy to see how the gameplay was iterated to the current form, and it feels too much like a beta test for me to enjoy it.

The next swath of gameplay takes you on a sightseeing tour of Columbia in the twilight – I just don’t have enough good things to say about the environmental design, and it’s sort of sad the story strays so far away from developing this location.

And I’m not sure why they needed a per-pixel shader to smear Vaseline on the camera lens.

After that, there’s a section where you through hoops for a crazy soldier with a loudspeaker system – a sequence clearly meant to evoke the weird-ass “mixed-media art project” level from the original BioShock (No, that’s not a joke – the game had an entire level where you are forced to complete a mixed-media art project). This level is actually one of my favorites in the game – we get some serious character development for both Harrison and Emily Elizabeth, as they both find out more about the founding of Columbia and themselves. To sum up their findings, Zebadiah Heston Comstock was apparently motivated to found Columbia after he fought Native Americans at the Battle of Wounded Knee. Both Harrison and the crazy soldier, who also served there, have no memory of Comstock being there at all – and Harrison reveals that the atrocities of war he saw in that conflict are what turned him into the annoying snarker he is now, on top of having his baby daughter die soon afterwards.

There’s obviously some foreshadowing here, but I have no problem with it because it all serves a purpose in the context of the scene itself. And the gameplay starts to settle down and get some sense of pace and buildup to it, so that’s nice.

When you finally beat the crazy soldier, he begs you to kill him, and you’re given the choice to murder or spare him. This is as good a time as any to discuss the concept of choice in this game – you see, a big part of previous BioShock games was the huge amount of moral choices you could make over the game. These choices would affect how you’re perceived by other characters in the game, and change the ending of the story. Here, you can make quite a few choices, but none of them affect anything at all. It’s an interesting subversion of expectations, but it isn’t really fleshed out as an idea and actually runs counter to the main point of the game.

The philosophy of the game towards choice is pretty much “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

Now, this game has already had a problem with not being able to reconcile the gameplay and story, but here we get a strange case of not reconciling the story and the story. You see, the next section of gameplay is climbing a tower up to a huge blimp, which Harrison tells Emily Elizabeth he needs to get out of Columbia and deliver her to whoever hired him back in New York. It’s only when they actually get in the blimp and set sail for the Big Apple, though, that Emily Elizabeth realizes her trust has been betrayed. It’s a strangely delayed reaction, and a problem that would be really easy to fix.

Anyway, she runs away and knocks you out. You come to much later, when it’s revealed that your killing spree has combined with the general sense of civil unrest to create an open revolutionary force, led by Evil Alyx Vance. She controls the only blimps out of the city, and so sends you on a fetch-quest to find an associate of amoral tycoon Richard “Rich” Jerk. As a result, you get to wander around the archaic factory setting for quite a while, so I’m not complaining.

When you start to get into combat in the factory, it turns into a weird journey through the mind of Upton Sinclair, where we’re supposed to engage in some capital-letter Meaningful Thinking about balancing the realities of commerce with the needs and desires of individuals. To demonstrate one of the times the game succeeds at integrating its gameplay and story, this Meaningful Thinking is partially done by fighting big steampunk cyborgs.

“PREPARE TO BE CRUSHED BY THE HEAVY-HANDEDNESS OF THIS METAPHOR!”

You encounter Emily Elizabeth and the Quantum Twins in the bowels of the factory, standing over the long-dead corpse of the man you’re look for. The Quantum Twins say there’s only one way to go: Emily Elizabeth will have to create a hole to another reality where the man is alive, and have it be powerful enough to stay there indefinitely. And so, they travel to a parallel universe/alternate reality/whatever the heck you want to call it. In this universe, the man you’re looking for is alive because Evil Alyx Vance’s revolution is much more powerful. This is simply excellent writing – it’s great at tying in the anti-extremism pontificating with the quantum plotline, and allows more questions to be raised and themes to be explored in both.

Anyway, you travel through the alternate version of Columbia, ravaged by conflict after alternate you’s sacrifice led to the rebellion’s strength. Despite the clear left-wing stance of the game up to this point, it’s just anti-extremist, not anti-conservative. As a result, we see that the people of Columbia are worse off under revolutionary rule than under the cruel but relatively stable industrialists like Richard Jerk, becoming either more downtrodden and hungry than before, or bloodthirsty monsters.

But Harrison is now single-mindedly trying to get out of the city. He joins a squad of revolutionaries to battle it out with the remaining peacekeeping forces of the city. It’s probably the longest section of near-uninterrupted combat in the game, and it succeeds in staying fast-paced and fun, even as it becomes easier than ever – in addition to all the magic powers, guns, and Emily Elizabeth the walking supply cabinet, you now have a half-dozen or so guys with guns following you around at all times. Now, it still works in spite of this because of its creativity. Set pieces like blimps, mag-rails and multi-level arenas filled with helpmeets and hazards make this one of the highlights of the gameplay.

Eventually, you find yourself confronting Evil Alyx Vance and Richard Jerk, deciding that they’re both just as bad as each other. Evil Vance kills Jerk and then literally holds a gun to a small child’s head, meaning that Emily Elizabeth is justified in stabbing her in the back. This leads to some nice loss-of-innocence stuff, which takes a weird turn when she decides to change into, well…this.

She’s opened a hole to an alternate dimension, where she keeps most of the organs in her torso.

This is what got me thinking of the Star Trek mirror universe – they’ve traveled to an alternate reality, and this is how our female lead dresses. But there’s a legitimate artistic reason for this – you see, this was Emily Elizabeth’s original character design, as was seen in the initial previews for the game 3 years before it came out. And I think this sheds some light on why so much of this game doesn’t work for me: They had too many ideas that they wanted to put into a single game. This wouldn’t have been a problem if they hadn’t shown so much of it off beforehand, which led to outside pressure to keep lots of stuff that otherwise would have been cut.

Which explains all the self-contradictory and unnecessary stuff that really drags the game down – even though I haven’t mentioned most of it, there’s still way too much of it everywhere you look. And if I can take a digression for a minute, this got me thinking. It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of the Half-Life game series (heck, I’ve mentioned it multiple times in this review already), and of course I’ve felt agonized by its developers’ complete silence on the subject of the next game in the series. But when you see what happened to this hotly anticipated game with a huge amount of pre-release information, you start to understand why they might feel this is the better option.

Anyway, back in the game, Emily Elizabeth and Harrison’s efforts to escape Columbia are thwarted by Big Bird, but they’re saved from death by the Quantum Twins, who take them to the evacuated, ruined financial district of Columbia. I like the next section for two reasons. First, it shows the consequences an FPS game would have on a normal city – civilians being evacuated, non-combat resources falling into disuse and disrepair, and so on. And second, the fights finally get challenging: the arenas get bigger, the enemy numbers get larger, and the supplies get scarcer. This really brings a sense of advancement and challenge to the gameplay, which is supplemented by the still-perfect environmental design.

Look at this – even terrified refugees look stylish and awesome with this art!

But as we advance, we come to one of the worst parts of the game. You see, up until now we’ve had three plots going on: In TV terms, there’s the A-plot of Harrison rescuing Emily Elizabeth from her captivity, the B-plot of the rebels taking over Columbia, and the C-plot of the Quantum Twins and Emily Elizabeth’s powers. The game has had mixed success with story beats that touch on two of these plots at once, but we’ve never really had anything that combines all three of them…until this level. And the attempt is laughable in its failure.

You see, now that the rebels have taken over and descended into mindless slaughter, the only way to get out of the city is to go to Mr. Comstock’s house. And the only other person who has access to the house is his late wife (huh?) – who, as we found out earlier, probably isn’t Emily Elizabeth’s mother. Having found this out recently, Emily Elizabeth is creepily eager to grave-rob the woman. But when they do, things start getting all ethereal – eerie blue flashing lights, things floating, and weird disembodied voices, in this case ones giving the baffling implication that Comstock has been following you the entire time.

And then Comstock’s wife’s corpse starts to glow, illuminating the graveyard around her, and…well, I think the immortal “SquirrelKing” put it best:

“Booker DeWitt then looked on the ground and found wepon so he pickd it up and fired fast at zombie goasts in front of a house. Booker DeWitt said “Zombie goasts leave this place” and the zombie goasts said “but this is our house” and Booker DeWitt felt sorry for them becaus they couldnt live there anymore because they were zombie goasts so he blew up the house and killed the zombie goasts so they were at piece.”

Yeah, the lady rises from the grave for no adequately explained reason other than a quick hand-wave from the Quantum Twins. She becomes a Quantum Lich and starts creating undead armies of quantum zombie ghosts. In between shooting quantum lightning and quantum tentacles at the quantum zombie ghosts, Harrison and Emily Elizabeth have to travel around the city and investigate a quantum proliferation of quantum tears providing quantum clues to a quantum quantum cross the streams quantum quantum quantum Paranormal Activity the Quantum Ones quantum zombies quantum quantum ghosts quantum quantum…Beetlejuice Beetlejuice Beetlejuice…

Sorry, folks. Anyway, the point of all this is for Harrison and Emily Elizabeth to discover more of the mystery behind their roles in the founding of Columbia. After all the ancillary runaround stuff, the truth comes out: The Quantum Twins were scientists who developed the reality-warping technology in the first place, in the form of a huge machine we saw hooked up to Emily Elizabeth – the Dimension-ator, or something. Comstock hired them to create his floating city and amass power within it, but began to use the for his own nefarious purposes. After he used it to abduct Emily Elizabeth from an alternate reality (which explains her powers), he tried to use the Dimensio-ma-tron to erase his wife and the Quantum Twins from existence, leading to the latter going all Dr. Manhattan and the former…well, it’s never really explained. It’s intertwined with some touchy-feely character stuff about Emily Elizabeth coming to terms with her fake mother, and vice versa, but all the time it’s impossible to take seriously because you’re shooting lightning at zombie ghosts!

Speaking of which, the zombie ghost gameplay isn’t very interesting – once you figure out that the only way to advance is to shoot the Quantum Lich, the fights get easy, and you start to think about what a stupid idea this was to put in this serious video game.

After you finish off the Quantum Lich, you go into Comstock’s house but are immediately accosted by Big Bird, who captures Emily Elizabeth and knocks you out. When you come to, you find Comstock’s house long abandoned. In a well-executed return to the style of the original BioShock, the house turns out to be an insane asylum, filled with atmospheric lighting, ghostly recordings of patients being driven mad, and crazy people who attack you in packs. Because of the lack of supplies, you’re forced to rely on stealth as you uncover the gut-wrenching story of how Big Bird brainwashed Emily Elizabeth into carrying on her father’s legacy, making her lose all her powers and grow to despise you.

It only took her 72 years, but she finally figured out that a corset shouldn’t be worn as outerwear.

This sudden twist is shocking, but that shock is sort of dissolved when it’s revealed that this was past and future versions of Emily Elizabeth working in tandem to save her from Big Bird, and you’re brought back to the normal timeframe and save Emily Elizabeth without much trouble. And the entire point becomes sort of moot when gameplay resumes as normal, as you and Emily Elizabeth fight your way into Comstock’s inner sanctum.

All the setup for a big plot revelation has been made when you finally confront Comstock, but all we really find out is that he blames Harrison for everything bad that happened to Emily Elizabeth, which he maintains even as you brutally murder him. The story anticlimax out of the way, we then have a gameplay anticlimax too, as the game ends with an annoying tower-defense boss fight.

But after that, we get to the real meat of the ending, where Harrison manipulates Big Bird into destroying itself and the Dimensi-o-matic once and for all, which somehow gives Emily Elizabeth complete mastery over reality. She uses this to bring Harrison into a parallel universe filled with many strange things we’ve never seen in the game before, and…

…Remember at the beginning, when I said it was impossible to discuss this game without discussing the original Bioshock? I didn’t really mean that in a good way, because the world we see is the underwater city from the first game. I can see what the idea in mind was – making this a sequel to the original by making the two games the same events occurring in two different universes – but it doesn’t really work for me because of how much the sequence feels like lazy fanservice.

Which is why I haven’t even considered getting the “Burial at Sea” DLC that launched today.

Then things start to get weird. We see an infinite amount of parallel universes, and Emily Elizabeth starts talking about the many-worlds interpretation to a baffled Harrison. There’s a lot of walking through mind-bending locations as we hear this monologue on science and how it relates to our lives, and I’m unpleasantly reminded of the 2011 entity-which-is-not-a-video-game Dear Esther.

And the influence of Dear Esther is also felt as we get to the big final twist. After a weird journey through time and space, we see that Harrison is fact a possible future/alternate reality/whatever version of Comstock – who sold his baby daughter Emily Elizabeth to Comstock after he contacted Harrison with the Dimensionizer. He repressed the memories by turning to a life of drinking and despair, but was recruited by the Quantum Twins to redeem himself by rescuing Emily Elizabeth. This has caused enough boondoggles with the multiverse that the only way to resolve everything is for Harrison to kill himself as a young man, in best Looper tradition.

Now, an ending like this is always tricky to pull off, and it’s up to everyone’s interpretation as to whether or not it worked. I thought it didn’t – it resolved all the foreshadowing that had been built up over the course of the story, but for me it didn’t bring any real closure or satisfying conclusion to the story of our heroes or the city of Columbia. And on top of that, it was just too long and sprawling for me to enjoy…although I’m well aware of the hypocrisy of saying that.

BioShock Infinite is the sort of thing I want to see more of, so part of me wants to give a glowing recommendation – but at the same time, I can’t deny that quite a lot of is isn’t as good as it might have been. There are plenty of valid reasons for the problems the game has, but that doesn’t change that they are problems, and ones too big to ignore.

TWO THUMBS UP: Environmental design, characters, visual style
THUMBS UP: Most of the story concepts, the second half or so of the gameplay
THUMBS DOWN: The first half of the gameplay, the ending
TWO THUMBS DOWN: Failure to manage all of the ideas, bad gameplay and story integration

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