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BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea – Episode 1 Review

by Diogo Miguel February 3, 2014

The Burial at Sea story based downloadable content for BioShock Infinite takes the story into a new direction. The team attempts this by making use of a familiar location, but is it a good reason to return to the world of BioShock?

It’s time to go take a trip down memory lane to where it all begun a few years back. The Burial at Sea single player content is split up into two episodes with the second episode being released at a later date. This downloadable content takes the lead characters from BioShock Infinite and puts them in the world of Rapture from the first two games.

This is certainly not an impossible task and those who finished Infinite’s story will no doubt know the reason why. Whilst it may seem like a cheap move to return to a place already explored in two games, it is better to think of this experiment as a new insight into the land of Rapture, since it is set long before its downfall.

In this world, both characters are given roles that are completely different from those they are given during the events of Infinite. Elizabeth for example is less patient and is more likely to snap at Dewitt. She still saves Dewitt from dying(provided it is possible) but does so he can complete the task she has given him. It’s always great to see strong female leads and that is definitely one of the highlights of this content.

It’s fascinating to explore this world in a state where it’s possible to see why Rapture was build in the first place. Even if the area that the player is given to explore is somewhat limited to a few shops. This makes it somewhat difficult to not feel confined within such a small area. Even more so when taking in consideration what Rapture has to offer.

Some of Infinite’s unique abilities like the hook don’t feel so natural when used in the world of Rapture. It worked so well in the world of Columbia since it was an essential way of navigating the various areas the characters had to go through. In Rapture, it also doesn’t work particularly well as a way to stun or even defeat enemies by jumping near them since there isn’t enough room to do so.

Other abilities like the tears work given that these are just being used for uncovering supplies. The use of cleverly disguised vigors as plasmids from the other BioShock games work really well. Those insane splicer enemies also make a welcome with their unpredictable nature.

The end result is that it feels like Burial at Sea is trying to be Rapture in Columbia’s world. It manages to do so to a certain extent given that it successfully establishes both characters in a completely different location. The search for Sally is an interesting way to introduce story elements such as the little sisters. It will certainly make players want to play the second episode in order to hopefully get some answers to the various mysteries set up.

Most of the episode is more like a tour where players are tasked with completing minor objectives. The remainder of the story takes places in the depths of Rapture – where the characters face off against waves of splicer(plasmid junkies) enemies.

It’s an interesting concept so far, but it also feels like the episode ends too quickly and doesn’t add much to the story. It does manage to redeem itself towards the end where it raises a few interesting questions that episode 2 will no doubt address.

Perhaps the biggest downfall of Burial at Sea is how short it feels. Not even exploring every section makes up for this. It’s something that will hopefully become less of an issue in episode 2.

The characters are great but it’s still unclear how their roles fit in the grand scheme of this return to Rapture. It manages to create a vision of Rapture not yet in ruins that will captivate the player, but it’s not enough to keep this momentum going for long.

Hopefully the conclusion to Burial at Sea will not only address some of these flaws, but also reward those who play through this first episode.

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