Love Letter to BioShock Infinite: The Best Story Ever Told?

Note: This article has been translated from Italian by ChatGPT and may contain errors.

I’ve never been a fan of excessive praise, which is one reason why the continuous exaltation of The Last of Us has made me find it somewhat distasteful, even though I consider both Part I and Part II to be good titles. In the same year Naughty Dog released the game, another one came out: BioShock Infinite. In 2013, the latter was my revelation. For me, there’s simply no comparison between the two titles. “Story” is the magic word. Many could write stories like The Last of Us (and they have). How many could come up with something like BioShock Infinite? Far fewer. Given their vastly different genres, it’s clear that judgment is, as always, subjective. I have no doubts, and honestly, to avoid ruining this solemn moment, I didn’t even want to mention The Last of Us, but I fell into that trap again. I don’t love excessive praise, yes, but exceptions confirm the rule, and if there’s one game that, in my view, deserves such accolades, it’s Infinite. I love you, BioShock!

BioShock Infinite: I LOVE YOU!

Since I’ve always considered BioShock an overrated game, ten years ago, I approached BioShock Infinite with a bit of snobbishness. The “courteous” twist of the first chapter hadn’t impressed me much, nor had the gameplay, in fact, so I had no expectations for the newcomer. But there’s genius in BioShock, and credit must be given, especially after Burial at Sea breathed new life into it and cast it in a new light.

Though curious, the first time I inserted the BioShock Infinite disc into my Xbox 360, I expected only one thing: disappointment. But you know the truth? I was wrong. Now, ten years after its release, I was afraid to pick it up again. How many titles can I say that about? Perhaps only The Last Guardian. It was a fear born from the doubt of “what if…” What if it’s not as I remember? What if, this time, it proves to be a letdown? What if the narrative magnificence has been eroded by time? If it’s just a memory of the past? After all, I’m not the person I was nine or ten years ago. No, indeed…

I swear, I had to think for a moment before deciding to replay it, before deciding to put the disc back into the Xbox 360. Too much time had passed since the last time, and I, I’m not the person I once was. Fortunately, however, not everything is destined to change. It only took a few seconds for the flying city of Columbia to appear powerful and majestic before my eyes again. It only took a few minutes to rediscover a captivating plot, a magnetic Elizabeth, and a gameplay experience that is even better than I remembered. Everything is exactly where I left it. In its place. It’s true, perhaps there’s an aspect of the ending today that I might say I don’t particularly love, preferring other solutions, but it’s all so well-crafted that it’s impossible to complain or come up with something better. The staging, dialogues, details, complexity—there’s something grand behind the entire and sophisticated narrative structure of BioShock Infinite, supported by an impactful soundtrack in the right moments and times. Not even a film I love, equally brilliant but much less complex, like Predestination, can hope to reach such heights. Perhaps no one can. Because, in the end, as the credits roll, that thought returns once again, clear and unchanged like in the past: this is the best story I’ve ever seen, experienced, heard, or read. A story that, no, is NOT open to interpretation. Is it the absolute best? An impossible question for anyone, meaningless and of no importance. But if a film like Everything Everywhere All at Once is considered for an Oscar, how should a game like BioShock Infinite be considered? Both play with the multiverse, but as far as I’m concerned, there’s a qualitative abyss between the two works. Yes, it’s true: how matters much more than what. Because I wouldn’t call Infinite original (even that final revelation can’t help but bring a certain InFamous to mind, released a few years earlier), but what it chooses to do, it does with a mastery, a charm, a creativity, a style, and a truthfulness that are simply unique, and what in other works might appear as a sort of “cliché,” in Infinite becomes something decidedly more substantial.

And then something happens that I couldn’t say how many times it’s happened in my life. Well, yes, ten years ago it clearly happened, there, in that moment, with that music, that slowed-down image, that detail. It took just a single damn detail: a finger, a pinky finger to be precise. And from here, you understand the greatness of an unrivaled work. A detail, and… Shivers. A fucking shiver and that almost bewildering sensation that pervades you as everything gains meaning. It happened to me again a few days ago, right there, in that moment. Of course, maybe it wasn’t as powerful as the first time, but who expected it to be? Not me. The surprising thing is that shortly afterward, it happened again, in Rapture, while the notes of La Vie en Rose resonated in my room during the moving and profound epilogue of Burial at Sea… Shivers. Astonishment. Wonder. Poetry. A double blow almost impossible to strike, but Irrational Games managed it. They managed to surpass the unsurpassable. And then you find yourself nodding with a lost gaze in front of the screen, as a mix of emotions envelops you. You did it, BioShock Infinite. You did it once again.

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