I picked up right where I left off when I did my initial impressions review of the game. It stuck out in my mind enough that I actually remembered where I left off even after a year away from it. Generally, the comments that I had at the time still apply. However, I noticed a few things that I would like to provide further comment on.
At the time of the previous review I had not fought a Big Daddy yet, so I hadn’t experienced the terror – and sadness – that such a battle can bring. I like to think most people probably lost to the first Big Daddy the first time they fought it, though I have no way of confirming that. After losing to him twice, I spent a fair amount of time studying the stage and eventually figured out a strategy that would work. After the first one, the rest were fairly easy.
The moral decision of harvesting vs saving the little sisters wasn’t much of a decision at all; the only thing I had to think about was being slow and deliberate to ensure I didn’t accidentally hit the wrong key. As a father with a daughter, I can’t see how anyone could choose to do anything but save them.
Upon reflection, I find it interesting that the game created such a strong moral stance for me. To be clear, there is nothing but ones and zeroes driving a fake image on the screen, and it clearly would have been beneficial (in game terms) for me to harvest the little sisters. But the designers created enough realism in the little sisters’ demeanor that it drew my own experience as a father into the equation. This guided my actions in a way that few games could.
Initially, I was frustrated by the ending video (I got the good ending, since I saved all of the little sisters). When I beat a game with this much intensity, I like to have a longer ending video to help decompress from the experience. Bioshock’s ending video was about 1 minute long. That’s not to say the ending was bad; on the contrary, I was moved to tears. I just found myself wanting more. It reminded me of the ending to “The Pit and the Pendulum.” That is, you have a long and interesting story that wrapped up way too quickly.
Perhaps it’s best that way. Perhaps the best games leave the player wanting more, even after it is done. My only regret is not finishing it sooner.