Bioshock Infinite is the third installment in the critically acclaimed Bioshock series, a first-person shooter game that explores the themes of dystopia, utopia, and free will. The game is set in 1912, and follows the protagonist Booker DeWitt, a former Pinkerton agent who is sent to the floating city of Columbia to rescue a young woman named Elizabeth, who has been held captive there since childhood. Along the way, Booker and Elizabeth encounter various factions, enemies, and secrets that reveal the dark history and nature of Columbia and its founder, Father Comstock.
But how is Bioshock Infinite related to Bioshock, the first game in the series that takes place in 1960, in the underwater city of Rapture? And what about Bioshock 2, the sequel that continues the story of Rapture and its inhabitants? Are these games set in the same universe, or are they completely separate stories? The answer is not so simple, as Bioshock Infinite introduces the concept of multiverse, or parallel realities, that connect all the games in surprising and complex ways. In this article, we will explore the connections between Bioshock Infinite and Bioshock, and how they affect the overall narrative and themes of the series.
The Lighthouse and the Man
The first connection between Bioshock Infinite and Bioshock is evident from the very beginning of both games. In Bioshock, the protagonist Jack survives a plane crash in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, and swims to a nearby lighthouse that contains a bathysphere that takes him to Rapture. In Bioshock Infinite, Booker arrives at a lighthouse on a rowboat, and uses a rocket chair to ascend to Columbia. Both lighthouses have similar designs and symbols, such as a banner that reads “No Gods or Kings. Only Man.” in Bioshock, and “Of Thy Sins Shall I Wash Thee.” in Bioshock Infinite.
These lighthouses are not mere coincidences, but rather gateways to different realities. As Elizabeth explains in Bioshock Infinite, there are constants and variables in every universe. The constants are things that always happen, such as “a man”, “a city”, and “a lighthouse”. The variables are things that change depending on the choices made by the characters, such as “the man’s name”, “the city’s location”, and “the lighthouse’s purpose”. These constants and variables create infinite possibilities for different worlds, some of which are explored in Bioshock Infinite.
The City and the Girl
The second connection between Bioshock Infinite and Bioshock is the similarity between Columbia and Rapture, and between Elizabeth and the Little Sisters. Both cities are isolated from the rest of the world, and are founded by visionary leaders who have extreme ideologies. Columbia is a city in the sky that represents American exceptionalism, nationalism, and religious zealotry. Rapture is a city under the sea that represents objectivism, individualism, and scientific progress. Both cities are also powered by a mysterious substance that grants superhuman abilities: ADAM in Rapture, and quantum particles in Columbia.
Both cities also have a special girl who is central to their secrets and conflicts. Elizabeth is a young woman who has the power to open tears in reality, allowing her to access other worlds and timelines. She is also revealed to be Comstock’s daughter, who was kidnapped by Booker from another reality where he was her father. The Little Sisters are young girls who have been genetically modified to produce ADAM from corpses. They are also protected by Big Daddies, hulking armored guardians who bond with them.
Both Elizabeth and the Little Sisters are sought after by different factions for their powers and potential. In Bioshock Infinite, Comstock wants to use Elizabeth to fulfill his prophecy of destroying “the Sodom below”, while Atlas wants to use her to overthrow Comstock’s regime. In Bioshock, Ryan wants to use the Little Sisters to maintain his control over Rapture’s ADAM supply, while Fontaine wants to use them to overthrow Ryan’s rule. Both games also give the player a moral choice of either saving or exploiting these girls for their own benefit.
The Ending and the DLC
The third connection between Bioshock Infinite and Bioshock is revealed at the end of Bioshock Infinite, and expanded upon in its DLC campaign Burial at Sea. At the end of Bioshock Infinite, Booker and Elizabeth travel to a place where all realities converge: a sea of lighthouses that lead to different worlds. Among these worlds is Rapture from Bioshock 1. Booker witnesses Songbird’s death as it drowns under water pressure (which some fans believe is connected to a sound heard in Bioshock 1), while Elizabeth explains that she can see all realities at once.
Elizabeth then reveals that Comstock is actually an alternate version of Booker, who accepted a baptism after the Battle of Wounded Knee and became a religious fanatic. She also reveals that she is Anna, Booker’s daughter, who was sold to Comstock by Booker to pay off his debts. Comstock used a tear device to take Anna to his reality, but Booker tried to stop him, resulting in Anna losing her finger and gaining her powers. Elizabeth then tells Booker that the only way to stop Comstock from existing is to prevent the baptism from ever happening. Booker agrees, and allows Elizabeth and her alternate versions to drown him in the river, erasing all realities where he became Comstock.
However, this also creates a paradox, as Elizabeth’s existence depends on Comstock’s actions. In Burial at Sea, Elizabeth is shown to have survived the paradox, but lost her powers and memories. She travels to Rapture in 1958, where she meets an alternate version of Booker who is a private detective. She hires him to find a missing girl named Sally, who is actually a Little Sister. Along the way, they encounter familiar characters from both Bioshock 1 and Bioshock Infinite, such as Ryan, Fontaine, Cohen, Fink, and Suchong.
Elizabeth eventually regains her memories and reveals that she is not there to save Sally, but to punish Comstock. She explains that one version of Comstock escaped the purge by fleeing to Rapture through a tear. He then tried to take another version of Anna from another Booker, but accidentally killed her in the process. He then erased his memories and became the Booker that Elizabeth hired. Elizabeth then confronts Comstock and forces him to remember his crimes, before allowing a Big Daddy to kill him.
In the second part of Burial at Sea, Elizabeth wakes up in Paris in 1984, where she lives a peaceful life with Sally. However, she soon realizes that this is not real, but a dream created by her subconscious. She is actually in Rapture, where she was revived by a Vita-Chamber after being killed by the Big Daddy. She then decides to sacrifice herself to save Sally and the other Little Sisters from Fontaine’s exploitation. She also helps Jack, the protagonist of Bioshock 1, by sending him a coded message and a gift: a special plasmid that allows him to control the Big Daddies.
Elizabeth’s actions in Burial at Sea create a causal loop that connects Bioshock Infinite and Bioshock 1. By killing Comstock in Rapture, she sets in motion the events that lead to Fontaine’s rebellion and Ryan’s downfall. By saving Sally and the other Little Sisters, she gives Jack a reason to fight against Fontaine and his army of Splicers. By sending Jack the plasmid and the message, she ensures that he will arrive in Rapture and fulfill his destiny.
Bioshock Infinite and Bioshock are connected by more than just their names and genres. They are part of a larger story that spans multiple realities and timelines, where every choice has consequences and every action has repercussions. They explore the themes of free will, determinism, identity, morality, and responsibility through their characters and settings. They also challenge the player to question their own role in the game’s narrative and mechanics.
Bioshock Infinite is not just a sequel or a prequel to Bioshock 1. It is a parallel story that complements and completes Bioshock 1. Together, they form a complex and compelling saga that transcends the boundaries of time and space.