After Bioshock Infinite‘s success as one of the most powerful story-driven games of 2013, and it’s twist endings, a DLC return to where the franchise began was all but inevitable. Burial at Sea: Episode One, the first episodic instalment of the Single-player additional content takes you right back to Rapture, setting of the first two games in the series, throwing in the game-play mechanics and vastly improved graphics of Infinite.
Beginning not from where Infinite left off, but in a seemingly alternate time line, you play as Booker Dewitt, Private eye, as he goes along with the enigmatic Elizabeth in search of a missing child. Set before the fall of Rapture, the story follows a familiar structure- exploring the world eves-dropping and learning the lore, before being thrown into a dangerous situation and fighting through a series of interesting locations.
As with most things Bioshock, the intro sequence and story sections are easily better than the actual combat. Being set loose in Rapture may not have the same initial impact as it did in 2007, partially due to this being set before the splicer-led fall, but having such a large pool of existing lore allows a deeper exploration of the undersea culture than ever before. Running around a living, breathing world is always great, but the feeling that accompanies already knowing what will become of it is priceless. The hints are all there, though certain sections still manage to be incredibly creepy, such as encountering a “school” of little sisters in white make-up and blue and pink dresses, and visiting a disturbing “party”. Atmosphere is everything you’d want from Bioshock, with a consistently charming and always creepy tone. Burial at Sea‘s pacing can sometimes feel a bit off and the story twists could be considered predictable, but it’s still got a better narrative than most of it’s competitors for your time.
With every texture made especially for the purpose and a minimum of reused assets, Rapture looks absolutely stunning, with the combination of 50’s art-deco and gore that we all love rendered in full HD. There are no massive re-designs, but the new inclusions to the world, specifically the skyline stand-ins, fit well with the existing choices. Rapture also sounds better than ever, with well delivered voice-work and classically atmospheric background music.
What is not so great is the combat itself, though arguable it’s vastly improved. In the originals the combat was always very tense, lining up with the dark claustrophobia of the undersea tunnels, and whilst the open-air nature of Columbia changed this to a faster, more fluid system, some of this tension does indeed return. Ammo is scarce, mainly due to tight limits on the amount you can carry, making each fight much more desperate. Guns still don’t have enough “oomph”, but the return of a many-weapon system does add a lot of well-needed variety.
Enemy variety is scare however, though this can be forgiven due to the length of the adventure.
This first episode only lasts approximately two hours, and doesn’t outstay it’s welcome. It could be argued that like Infinite itself, it doesn’t fully justify the price tag at this length, at £11.99 on it’s own or £15.99 as part of the Season pass. However, with tons of pure fan surface, it’s well worth a look for those looking to dive right back into the deep blue.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.