[WARNING: SPOILER ALERT]
I can’t say that I’ve actually played Bioshock Infinite, but I have watched someone play it through from start to finish. I marveled at the complex scenery of a city in the sky. I was enveloped in the gameplay even though I was only a spectator. I was intrigued by each piece of the plot’s puzzle that grew more and more intricate with every passing moment. As the ending drew near I knew a mind-blowing twist was imminent. Then the ending came, in nearly mocking peacefulness, and just as mocking convolution. Yet I was disappointed. This ending, brilliant as it was, makes this game one of the most amazing games that I have a hard time endorsing.
As a creative writer and part-part-time video gamer I endorse the movement toward meaningful dialog and deep plot development in games, both mastered by BioShock’s development team. But, perhaps, we have become so enamored with the most far-reaching, bizarre, unique stories that we have forgotten why stories are so important in the first place. Stories are at their best when they captivate an audience, and while it has their attention it tells them something worth hearing. The value of a story is not solely on how different or masterful its construction, but also in the worth of the message.
The notion of infinite parallel universes (or multiverse/meta-universe), each with their own pantheon of parallel individuals, is not exactly the most worthy message to convey. It drains any meaning from the actions, motivations, and accomplishments of your own character. Let me also say that it is also quite self-defeating as the core of a video game plot. Think about it. The gamers have pulled every single string in your gamer heart to be invested in the outcome of the game, to push forward through all the battles and gore, only to find out in the end that everything you did must be un-done. You’re entire game experience is for naught. Though many parts of the game, in retrospect, suddenly make a lot more sense, including the game’s own title.
However, in the end, this made the ending for Bioshock Infinite emotionally dissatisfying, philosophically nihilistic, morally ambiguous, spiritually misleading (I would support that infinite universes and God are mutually exclusive), and honestly not even that original. Multiple universes exist in Zelda, the Narnia books, and even Star Trek, though there are not many examples of parallel universes in the same scope as presented in BioShock.
Finally, it has that feel of a cop-out ending, like when the protagonist wakes up and the entire preceding storyline was nothing but a dream. That is why the ending makes BioShock Infinite one of the most amazing games I have a hard time endorsing.