Well, since I got a discounted DRM-free version of the “complete edition” of “Bioshock Infinite” (2013) from GOG a while ago, I thought that I’d also take a look at it’s two-part DLC “Burial At Sea” (2013-14) today. From what I can gather, both “episodes” either were or are sold separately elsewhere but I’ll be covering both of them in this review.
I remember seeing trailers for “Burial At Sea” on the internet back in the day, and it looked ridiculously cool – literally a sci-fi “film noir” game with lots of neon lights and stuff like that. Thinking more, one of the many reasons why I eventually got the main game was probably to play this DLC. It looked that cool.
It’s well worth completing the main game before playing “Burial At Sea” though. Likewise, whilst it includes an optional recap of the events of “Bioshock” (2007), it’s well worth actually playing that game as well beforehand in order to get the most out of this DLC. It may look like a stand-alone story at first glance, but it won’t really fully make sense if you haven’t played these two games first.
So, let’s take a look at both parts of “Bioshock Infinite – Burial At Sea”. This review may contain SPOILERS. The game itself contains some FLASHING/FLICKERING LIGHTS, but I don’t know whether they are intense enough to be an issue or not.
The game begins on the 31st December 1958, in the underwater city of Rapture.
Grizzled private investigator Booker DeWitt has a new client, a mysterious lady called Elizabeth who wants his help searching for a young girl called Sally who has gone missing…
Yes, it’s a sci-fi film noir 🙂 Seriously, the opening scene even reminded me a little of “Blade Runner” (1982) during a couple of moments 🙂
One of the first things that I will say about this two-part DLC is that it is brilliantly creative and much closer to the original “Bioshock” (2007) in style than it is to “Bioshock Infinite” (2013) 🙂 Whilst the story is as excellent as ever, this add-on actually places a bit more emphasis on complex gameplay than “Bioshock Infinite” did. Not only is it a cool prequel to “Bioshock”, but it is also just excellently creative too.
Not only does this DLC let you carry more than just two weapons (you can select the others from a weapon wheel) but you’re also – at least in the second part – actually able to choose when to use healing items too. Whilst the checkpoint saving remains, the general difficulty level and style of the game is a lot closer to the original “Bioshock” – with ammunition being a bit more scarce and enemies being a bit more powerful.
Seriously, I have three bullets at the beginning of this level and everywhere looks eerie too! Ha! THIS is Bioshock… Infinite?!?!
The first part is – for the most part – almost like an expansion to the original “Bioshock” 🙂 Leaving aside the brilliantly atmospheric introductory level, you’ll be spending most of it in a creepy abandoned building fighting splicers. It’s maybe equivalent to 2-3 levels from the original game but, if you’re a fan of that, then you’ll probably enjoy part one a lot. There’s also a new weapon as well – a 1950s-style microwave gun that can make splicers explode.
The second part – where you play as Elizabeth – shakes things up by adding some limited stealth elements and a very simple “lockpicking” mini-game. Whilst it isn’t exactly a “run and hide” survival horror game, and you can use weapons (including a new tranquiliser gun), you are heavily encouraged to play in a sneakier way. Weapons and ammunition are even more limited – and Elizabeth doesn’t have a “shield” bar – so direct confrontations are often a bad idea.
Again, part two is still an action game – but it’s a more suspenseful one that requires you to use tactics and/or sneak about a lot more.
This adds a bit more suspense to part two and gives it a slightly different atmosphere, which keeps things fresh and interesting. Yet, you’re given just enough tools to defend yourself and plenty of options, so it feels a bit more like a proper “immersive sim” game too. Seriously, I even beat some parts of it by just running past all of the splicers and/or henchmen rather than sneaking around.
The level design in both parts also feels a lot more non-linear than “Bioshock Infnite” (2013) too 🙂 With both parts sometimes including hub areas that you have to return to between objectives, and more optional side-areas that you can search for resources. Plus, it also re-uses very little from the original game. Seriously, aside from one relatively brief segment of episode two, its basically an entirely new game 🙂 THIS is what DLC should be!
Seriously, it’s so cool to see even more of Rapture – especially before it turned into a “zombie apocalypse” kind of place….
Interestingly, both parts begin with a “walking simulator” type segment. Whilst this might sound boring on paper, the visual design and atmosphere do a lot here. Whether it is actually being able to explore the art deco streets of Rapture before everything went to hell – seeing this dystopian city in its prime – or the excellent dream/nightmare sequence at the beginning of part two, both parts take a little while to get into the gameplay but still manage to astonish you with atmosphere and excellent art design.
As hinted earlier, the story of “Burial At Sea” is absolutely stellar. As you would perhaps expect from a “film noir”, it tells a dark and gritty story. There’s a “film noir”-style web of criminal intrigue here too – with the characters often finding themselves working for different people, some of whom have different goals. A lot of familiar faces from the original “Bioshock” (2007) also show up as well 🙂
“Welcome to the Circus of Values!” Oh, how I’ve missed you, creepy mechanical clown 🙂
There are the brilliantly brain-twisting sci-fi elements from “Bioshock Infinite” (2013), but – this time – they are actually paired with some “Bioshock” (2007) style horror elements 🙂 Seriously, THIS is a “Bioshock” game 🙂
Plus, being a prequel to “Bioshock” (2007) and a sequel to “Bioshock Infinite” (2013), it also adds a bit to the backstories of both games – and actually connects them a bit more – as well. Again, if you’ve played both, then you’ll seriously appreciate all of this stuff – but it might be confusing if you haven’t.
As for length, it’s an expansion. Together, the two parts maybe took me about 5-6 hours to complete. They felt substantial enough to be satisfying, but this is definitely an expansion rather than a full game. Still, it is very much a case of “quality over quantity”. There’s very little filler here.
All in all, whilst I loved the original “Bioshock Infinite” (2013) for it’s amazing story, this two-part add-on excels in terms of both story and gameplay 🙂 Add to this some seriously cool visual design and “film noir” elements and it is well worth playing if you are a fan of the “Bioshock” games 🙂
If I had to give it a rating out of five, it might just get a five.