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Bioshock Infinite: Play-through

Booker DeWitt

Bioshock Infinite (game)

I've been writing about virtual reality, simulated worlds, and the new forms of entertainment and education they will engender for thirty years. Other than Kerbal Space Program, which is more of a simulated world sandbox than a game (there is no specific goal and no conflict other than with the laws of nature), I have not played video games since the age of Pac-Man. As we approach the threshold of the Roaring Twenties, I thought it would be a good idea to check in and see the current state of the art and whether it justified the things people were saying about contemporary games being a new art form and interactive medium of fiction.

The game I chose to play was Bioshock Infinite, the latest in the Bioshock series (but an entirely different story line from the previous games). This game, originally released for consoles in 2013 and ported to Linux in 2015, was rated very highly by reviewers, with most rankings 9/10 or 10/10. The budget for the game was not disclosed by its privately-held developers, but was said to be around US$ 100 million for development and a comparable sum for promotion, larger than many major motion pictures. It has sold more than 11 million copies since its release. I learned of the game from a detailed description by James Lileks on his blog.

This review will be presented in a very eccentric manner. I will not describe the plot from an omniscient standpoint (for that, see the links above), but rather things as I encounter them. These are my notes, written in the style of a software development log or system narrative. I will post items in comments, one or more per day, time permitting, running behind my play-through of the game (providing a buffer for days I have too many other things to do). In each entry, I will provide links to an on-line play-through which will give you more details and screen grabs. There's no point in making my own, since the job has already been done superbly. There will, of course, as in any play-through, be major spoilers in the comments. I will make no effort to avoid or mark them. If you want to experience the game without any foreknowledge, don't read the comments that follow.

I am playing the game on an Xubuntu Linux system under the Steam gaming environment. I am using 1920×1080 screen resolution in “High” resolution rendering mode with “Normal” difficulty. As I am interested more in exploring this virtual world, how it is rendered, and how a visitor interacts with it than testing my prowess against the game engine, I am exploring it with the aid of play-throughs prepared by people who have made it all the way to the finish. These are guides, however, not cheats—there is substantial randomness in the game and you're on your own when the shooting starts—it's generally up to you to figure out how to defeat the assaults you'll face as you progress through the game.

This is a “first-person shooter” game: you are the protagonist and have to reach your objectives by defeating foes—human, mechanical, and supernatural—with weapons, wits, and capabilities you acquire as you pursue your quest. If you find this repellent, so be it—that's the model for many games, and it's the one adopted here. Personally, I find most of the combat episodes tedious, although it's fun learning tricks to defeat adversaries and deploying newly-acquired weapons and “vigors” (supernatural powers) against them. What is the most fun is exploring the huge, magnificently-rendered world here. The production values are equal to contemporary CGI movies, but you're not stuck in your seat munching popcorn but able to explore it at will, looking at things from various perspectives and interacting with this world you're discovering. The game is, as far as I've played it when I'm writing this, beautiful, with superbly-rendered three-dimensional models; an airy, misty ambience; and a musical track, both vintage and original, which complements the story line. There is explicit violence (although nothing which would go beyond a “PG” rating in the movies), but no obscenity or nudity (at least as far as I've played).

I should note that the credits screen includes the following acknowledgements:

This software product includes Autodesk® Beast™ software,© 2013 Autodesk, Inc., Autodesk® HumaniK® software,© 2013 Autodesk, Inc., Autodesk® Kynapse® software,© 2013 Autodesk, Inc., and Autodesk® Scaleform® software,© 2013 Autodesk, Inc.

I had no idea Autodesk was such a player in the game space, as well as CGI movies. You never know what the kids will do after they grow up and move out…. (Guys, you only need to use the “registered” or other marks on the first reference to the word.)

And here we go….

2018 July 29

Keyboard commands:

              A   D

    Space       Jump
    C           Crouch (toggle)
    Left shift  Sprint
    Right shift Walk
    F           Take/Use item
    J           Play Vox

    Left mouse  Fire weapon
    Right mouse Fire vigor
    Z           Iron sights
    E           Switch weapon
    V           Mêlée
    R           Reload
    Q           Swap vigors
    1-8         Select vigor

    N           Navigation aid
    O           Gameplay menu

    Esc         Exit to control menu

    1           Possession
    2           Fire
    3           Crows
    4           Shock Jockey
    5           Bucking Bronco
    6           Charge
    7           Undertow
    8           Return to Sender

First run-through for familiarisation. Played through to the Fraternal Order of the Raven but missed the Lansdowne Residence getting there.

Possession vigor Passing through the fair, we stop at a booth which offers a free sample of the Possession vigor. We immediately use this to possess the machine guarding the entry to the lottery and proceed toward it. At Raffle Square, an imprisoned couple are exhibited, we draw a baseball with the dreaded number 77, and are forced to throw it either at the couple or the barker on the stage. I throw it at the barker, but it doesn't make any difference which you choose (except for a small detail much later in the game).

Pistol Immediately after throwing the ball, we're identified as the False Prophet and attacked by police. The only weapon we have to defend ourselves at this point is the sky hook, which can be used to attack people with the V (mêlée) key. During this initial attack, one of the we policemen killed will drop a pistol, which we can pick up with the F key. This will be our only weapon for a while. We pass a vending machine which allows us to upgrade the Possession vigor to possess people as well as machines. It's only $50, which we've accumulated in our searches so far, so I opt for it.

Devil's Kiss (fire) vigor Proceeding further, we're attacked by a Fireman who throws balls of fire at us. We dodge and shoot at the Fireman with the pistol and eventually he explodes. After the explosion, we find the Devil's Kiss vigor in the debris. This gives us the power to throw fireballs and set fire traps just like the Fireman.

I discovered there's no Save function. You have to play through to a major checkpoint (usually a location to explore) before it will save. I've never seen the rotating arrow it claims it displays when autosaving.


2018 July 30

To disable Steam cloud backup of game according to this page, go to the main Steam control panel, display the name of the game, right click and select “Properties”. On the pop-up dialogue, click the “Updates” tab and uncheck “Enable Steam Cloud”. Next, within the game, go to Options->Gameplay and turn off Steam cloud. This will take effect only after you have completely exited the game and Steam and restarted Steam.

As it turns out, Steam cloud was already disabled in Options->Gameplay, which means it probably wasn't being used even though it was enabled at the Steam level. Just to be sure, I exited the game and Steam and restarted everything.

The game save data for Bioshock Infinite appears to be in: ~/.steam/steam/userdata/890137677/8870. It is claimed that backing up and restoring this will restore the game to where you were at the time of the backup.

Added ~/bin/steamWatch to watch for changes in the Steam save directory. At present this is just an “ls -R” every 60 seconds; it should be made much smarter, including an automatic save on any change.

Here is a good guide and walkthrough. The walkthrough has chapters for each phase of the game.

Here is another complementary walkthrough. There are items in each of these which are not mentioned in the other.

Machine Gun Restarted at the Comstock Center Rooftops chapter. I'd gotten everything pretty much right before that, but after reading this walkthrough I wanted to visit the Lansdowne Residence first. Getting to the Residence across the rooftops, we have the first opportunity to use skyhooks and attack a policeman from a hook. Searching the area after the attack, we find a Machine Gun, which we add to our armament. You can carry two weapons at a time, and switch between them using the E key.

Played up to the entrance of the Fraternal Order of the Raven. This is a checkpoint, and a save occurred upon arriving there. I decided to call it a night. I got to the Lansdowne Residence by shooting out the skylight with the pistol and jumping through it to the room below.


2018 July 31

I missed the Voxophone 008 and Sightseer 008 outside the Montgomery Residence rushing to get to the Order of the Raven without getting shot to pieces. I may go back there after I'm through the Raven and have returned to Lansdowne with the key to the chest.

Implemented a program to watch the save file directory. Whenever a new save is made, a message is printed to alert the user and a flashback of the save directory is made. Installed in ~/bin/steamPeek.

Picked up at the entrance of the Fraternal Order of the Raven. This time I killed all of the first floor members in the dining room and looted their corpses. Then I proceeded to the bar, collected silver, salt, and health, and then proceeded upstairs to the balcony above the meeting hall. I attacked the attendees from the balcony with the fire bomb, which killed most of them, then machine gunned down the remainder who came up the stairs. Looted the corpses. I then went down into the hall, found the corpses were gone, but emptied lots of lock boxes and things found on the benches. At the altar I found an infusion and the key to the treasure chest at the Landsdowne Residence.

Murder of Crows vigor Went to the room with the elevator and went upstairs. Found the side room with the sliding bookcase and obtained the gear (magic pants with shield-enhancing properties) and goodies. Looted everything in surrounding rooms. With full shield, health, salt, and ammo, entered the door to the aviary. When attacked by Crow, I dropped fire bombs and ended up killing him with the machine gun. I got killed twice in the process of doing this, but by killing him I (finally!) obtained the Murder of Crows vigor. Went back and refreshed ammo and salt from sources I'd bypassed when full.

I had a heck of a time figuring out where the back door to the Order of the Raven is and finally had to use the N key for hints—it's in the back of aviary. Went out onto the balcony.

Walked up to the edge next to the police barge, boarded using Space W (jump, then forward), used the telescope which showed the Monument Island Gateway. Jumped back onto balcony.

Used the skyhooks to go to the second balcony in the direction of the Gateway. Skyhook attacked a policeman on the balcony. Entered the apartment, killed a number of police, and collected goodies including quite a bit of money. There is Gear here (Mêlée Fire Hat). All of this exhausted my salt, so I hooked all the way back to the Order of the Raven and chased down two vials of salt I had not used (being full) whilst there. Returned via hook, stopping at the first balcony and, unopposed, collected goodies.

Hooked to the Monument Island Gateway. This opened another chapter (precluding going back to the Lansdowne Residence, which I decided was more trouble than it was worth). This made a snapshot and I decided to call it a night.

I ended up in good shape on all consumables except ammo. I may have to buy some at the vending machine before entering the Gateway.


2018 August 4

Back after a hiatus due to system administration headaches, a new version of WordPress, and getting this month's Saturday Night Science out.

Fought my way through Monument Island Gateway, picked up goodies there, searched and looted the barge. Took the sky-line to the maintenance station, fought my way in, found the infusion, and unblocked the sky-line with the lever. Went to the police barge and eventually found the abandoned apartment where the next piece of gear was found. Took the sky-line to the terminal, found the hole in the wall and boarded the Zeppelin.

Once activated, the Zeppelin catches fire and you have to escape through the hole in the floor to the sky-line, which takes you to the end station at Monument Tower. This is the start of the next chapter. The save is called TC_PostZepCrash.

Elizabeth I continued, got to the library and found Elizabeth. Went through Battleship Bay to the arcade. Chose the Cage. Lots of goodies to collect (I'm full) and precious little combat. Lots of great exploration. Called it a night at the save of BW_Vending.


2018 August 5

Resumed at the Battleship Bay Arcade.

In the side room, found the Vampire's Embrace gear. From the vending machine, bought machine gun ammo to top off.

Shotgun At the ticketing office, drew weapon and triggered ambush. Fought through, exchanging pistol for captured shotgun. After battle, ticket office was closed but went around the back way, killing a few more attackers and found the infusion. Chose increase salt capacity.

Elizabeth ran away during battle. Now must find her.

Followed Elizabeth to the gondola and activated. No loot on gondola, no fight getting to station. Collected loot on bottom level of station, went upstairs and used telescope there.

There's a not particularly useful map of Soldier's Field on the top level. We find ourselves at the entrance to Soldier's Field. This is a one way turnstile to the next chapter.

Carbine Entering Soldier's Field brings us up to snapshot BW2-0. Used the lockpick to enter the office to the left. Used infusion to increase health. Got carbine and lots of ammo. Now carrying machine gun and carbine—it has greater capacity than the shotgun. There's a safe there, but it requires 5 lockpicks. Found one in this office.

Exploring Soldier's Field boardwalk. Did not steal from ice cream shop cash register.

After activating the lever to summon the gondola, which will malfunction because we don't have Shock Jockey, we get a new checkpoint: BW_STEUsed.

Next, near the entrance to the Hall of Heroes, we find the fifth lockpick. Now we have to backtrack all the way to the Welcome Centre (including lifting the broken gate), visit the side office, and open the safe where 256 Eagles await. We now have a balance of 1119 Eagles.

On the way back to the Hall of Heroes, we stop at the Ice Cream parlour where the cash register is unguarded and steal 14 Eagles. Hardly a large haul, but it's easy money.

Taking the lift to the Hall of Heroes, we reach checkpoint BW_BottomOfLift.

Bucking Bronco vigor We obtain the Bucking Bronco vigor. Note that vigors are selected by absolute number. Bucking Bronco is 5, and we don't yet have 4. There's a safe here, but we need 5 lockpicks and have only 1. Must revisit later.

Reached the checkpoint BW_SkyhookSeige and, totally bewildered, called it a night.

The solution to the cipher is, “Tip the hat to the Vox”.


2018 August 6

At the Hall of Heroes Plaza, went through the Fellow Traveller first, then back to the ticket office. I found and used lockpicks to enter the ticket office, found the gear. Used the vending machine to upgrade Carbine accuracy. Then proceeded to the gondola where I'd already pulled the lever to unblock the skylines. Finally made it to the Hall of Heroes, which requires several jumps between skylines and, after getting stuck, a C reverse to backtrack. Finally arrived at Hall of Heroes Museum and motion became completely stuck in front of the sign (but other keys worked). It had just saved BW_OutsideMuseum, so I exited to desktop and restarted. When it came back up, I was unstuck. This is the first clear-cut bug I've encountered.

Sniper rifle Arrived at the Hall of Heroes gondola station. Searched the gondola and found the RPG and goodies. Upon approaching the station was attacked by long-range snipers. Elizabeth threw me a sniper rifle which the Z key allows you to use with a scope—very useful. Sniper rifle I also tried the RPG, but it wasn't any more useful in this encounter than the shotgun. Expended one Murder of Crows attack with little effect. Finally prevailed and searched the area, finding sufficient salt, health, and ammo to restore the status quo ante. Bought a little more ammo at a Dollar Bill to top off. Finally entered the Hall of Heroes, which starts a new chapter with a checkpoint of BW3. At this point, $1408, Locks 1, everything topped off.

Fought through the Wounded Knee exhibit in the museum, reached checkpoint BW_HoH_WKDone.

Visited the Boxer Rebellion and defeated the Fireman. Obtained two more lockpicks. Returned to the main room and killed some more goons. Passed checkpoints BW_HoH_BRDone and BW_HoH_HubDone. Popped back into Wounded Knee to find some Salts I didn't need when I passed there the first time.

Shock Jockey vigor Played through the Hall of Heroes and obtained the Shock Jockey vigor. Used it twice to defeat the raven in the main hall and to zap a conduit allowing me to exit. This got me to checkpoint BW_HoH_ConduitOn. From here it's on the gondola which takes us to the Aerodrome, but there's a big battle looming. I'll call it a night.


2018 August 7

After returning to Soldier's Field, searched all the stores, which were now closed, finding more money. You can manually raise the gates closing the stores. Several doors have Tesla coils next to them which you can power up with the Shock Jockey vigor and open. Inside are more gear and lockpicks. Went back to the Employees Only section of the Patriot's Pride pavilion where we now have sufficient lockpicks to open the safe, inside of which there are 256 Eagles.

Used a skyhook to get to the balcony of the hotel. This is a murder scene where you find gear, a lockpick, and another Voxophone.

A few words about using gear. When you take gear with F, you do not automatically start using it. To do that, equip it with H. The J key compares the gear in the box with that you're currently using. You can select which gear you want to use with the game play menu O, scroll to the Gear panel, scroll to the category of gear, and choose the one you wish to use.

Went to the gondola dock, used Shock Jockey to power up the control panel, pulled the lever.

This triggers an epic attack from two police sky barges. I wasn't sure at the start where the fire was coming from, then I learned to look up. Used Crows vigor, chain gun and sniper rifle, then hooked up to the left barge, eliminated one last policeman, searched corpses, and found some additional loot. After subduing the attack, went back to the plaza to look for some replacement salt and health.

Went back to the gondola, where the control room can be hairpin unlocked. Inside is a new lockpick and some Eagles. Activated the handle and the gondola took us to the Aerodrome, where we (finally) got checkpoint BW-Aerodrome.

Added the ability to have play an audio clip every time it discovers and archives a new checkpoint. This keeps you from missing a checkpoint and playing on beyond the point you intended to stop, then having to choose between continuing to play to the next checkpoint or losing everything you've done since the last.

When you enter the aerodrome station, there's another attack which is relatively easily defeated. Searching the station, we find another lockpick, salts, and an infusion. I used this one to strengthen the shield. I'm trying to balance them out.

This gets us to Finkton Docks, checkpoint Fink.


2018 August 8

Started out exploring Finkton Docks. Elizabeth has disappeared and we're supposed to pursue her. There is no opposition, and we get more lockpicks and gear. Now we start chasing Elizabeth, and she keeps disappearing through tears into parallel realities before we can do anything about it. At this point we reach checkpoint SFink_Docks.

We have to use skylines to follow Elizabeth, and search each place we land. One time I flubbed a dismount and fell to my death. Be sure you dismount onto terra firma!

We finally get to Fort Franklin Pier and face an epic battle with a sky barge. It has a turret which must be possessed and then destroyed before possession wears off. I finally got it by charging, possessing, and then shooting it while possessed with the volley gun. (Got killed about five times getting to that point.) Went back to the prison and collected the infusion there.

Following the skylines, we get to a dock and get attacked by a Handyman. This is a pure animation, but we learn that you're supposed to shoot at the heart in the middle of the chest in real combat. Finally we get to Elizabeth and she delivers a rant but finally agrees to rejoin forces. In the process of this we pass checkpoints SFink_RescueLiz and SFink_LizRescued.

This is a good thing, because we next go to the Finkton Worker Induction Center and find a gondola with a locked door she can open using five of our lockpicks. We find gear and a silver bar here.

Near the entrance to the induction centre there is a vending machine where we can buy three lockpicks. Next we enter the station itself and pass checkpoint Fink2.

Now we explore the top floor of the station, unopposed, collecting lockpicks and money, viewing a kinetoscope, listening to a Voxophone, and finding lots of ammo. There's a locked room (can be picked), with a safe inside with lots of money. There are also additional lockpicks.

Volley gun Next, we must descend to the lower floor of the station. Elizabeth can open the door with a hairpin, but when we get there we're fighting again. This time there's a motorised patriot we can possess and lots of cops to kill. I switched back and forth between the volley gun and sniper rifle and got killed three times before I was able to get behind the patriot while possessed and blow him away with the volley gun. Finally, when all are subdued and we have very low supplies, it's time to search the area.

Hand cannon We find a safe with lots of money, various resources, and a locker containing a Voxophone with a confusing message. The locker also contains a diary that Elizabeth reads. It, to, is confusing, but we'll probably come to understand it as the story unfolds. Finally, we activate the elevator, which shows all kinds of 1984-style weird scenes as we descend—and then stops halfway. The telephone rings and there's a message from Fink trying to recruit us to his cause. After hanging up, the elevator completes its descent and we enter a room with Flambeau, who makes his pitch and then leaves. The room contains a number of resources we don't need at this point, plus another lockpick and the Hand Cannon (first time we've seen it). Since I have accumulated plenty of ammo for it, I pick it up, replacing the volley gun. We'll see how it works before long, I'm certain.

After searching the area, proceed through the door into Finkton. This passes checkpoint SFink_Hub01A where I called it quits for today.


2018 August 9

Vigors used in combination (one after another with the same target) have greater power than simple addition. For example, if you launch crows at a group of adversaries and then send Shock Jockey to the same area, the crows will become electrified and electrify the enemies they attack. Here is a guide to vigor combinations.

It's also important to know to which vigors the various enemies are vulnerable. Here are guides for common and powerful enemies.

Entered the Plaza of Zeal, searched area to the right, including inside a clock shop which took one lockpick to open. Collected lots of ammunition and money and topped up all expendables.

Continuing to search, walked past a security zone and was attacked by cops and two turrets. The hand cannon works really well on turrets! Possess them, then blow them away while they're still green. You'll get a warning not to attack your allies. But they're only your allies while possessed, which isn't for long! Waste the suckers while they're still green. This brings us to the SFink_HubTHunt checkpoint.

Used the skyhook to reach and search roofs above buildings around the square. Found more ammo and, most importantly, a volley gun, on the roof above Chen Lin's gun shop. Finally, entered and searched the gun shop and, after searching the top floor, descended and encountered Lady Lin, who told us Lin has been abducted and can be found at the Good Time Club (which we've passed on several occasions during the search). On reaching the bottom floor of the gun shop, where I found some money I'd overlooked before, we got to the SFink_GunShop checkpoint. Left the gun shop interior to its outer annex and got the SFink_FinktonHub checkpoint. Now it's off to the Good Time Club.

On the way to the Good Time Club was attacked by a Handyman. I used the Crows plus Fire vigor, which stunned him, then took multiple shots to the heart with the volley gun. Got killed twice before I was able to make the hit. After killing him, got new gear (which I took but did not start to use, as the one I have now seems better) and a lockpick.

There was no further resistance in the plaza, so I continued to search, topping off all consumables (ammo, health, and salts). I finally found the tailor shop and collected the lockpick there. There was a vigor vending machine in the entry to the tailor shop, and I upgraded the damage for the fire vigor, using about half of my cash.

Finally, entered the Good Time Club. This made the SFink_GoodClub checkpoint, where I decided to hang it up for today, since there's apparently a huge battle coming as soon as you walk further into the club. As I enter the club, I'm carrying the sniper rifle and volley gun with near full ammo for both.


2018 August 10

Entered the Good Time Club and encountered the all-aspect attack I was expecting. There were a Fireman, lots of police, a Motorised Patriot, and—after all were defeated—a Crow. After getting killed around seven times, I defeated them all and ran squarely into what I have to consider a bug in the game engine. I had defeated all of the adversaries and looted their corpses, but the doors which were supposed to open after I vanquished them all remained blocked. After wasting the better part of an hour trying to find a way into these places, I gave up and restarted the game from the SFink_GoodClub01 checkpoint. Immediately I had to fight through the attackers again but, this time, after prevailing, the doors were open. I can't see this as anything other than a bug. This is the second bug I've encountered, the first being the freeze on 2018-08-06 in front of the sign at the Hall of Heroes. In both cases, restarting from the last checkpoint fixed the problem. In this case, however, the restart required re-fighting a major battle.

I found the Hand Cannon very useful in dealing with the Mechanised Patriot. Possess him to gain the opportunity to shoot the mechanism from behind and then it's a one shot kill. Blowing away the head may buy you five or ten seconds to get behind and finish the job but no more.

After getting through this very tedious battle, I searched the side rooms that opened up, collecting lockpicks and an infusion, which I used to increase salt capacity. Found and opened a safe with almost 200 Eagles, which were welcome since I'd spent so many upgrading the fire vigor yesterday.

Collected gear in the room with the fireplace. The gear is marginally more interesting than the one I had, so I equipped it.

Now we descend into the prison. We find a locked room (Elizabeth can open it with a hairpin) containing the codebook for the Vox cipher we've recently seen. Moving on and checking out the cells, we find Slate, who we spared back in the Hall of Heroes. He is non-responsive, just sitting there.

We open another cell (which requires five lockpicks) and find a dead prisoner but more gear.

Finally, we get to cell number nine. As we descend into it, we reach checkpoint SFink_GoodClubD. It has been two hours since the last checkpoint! This is not good gameplay design, folks, especially since one of those hours was wasted due to a bug in the scenario.

Having finally reached a checkpoint, I close today's narrative, unsure when I'll take it up again. Checkpoints should be around every half hour, not unpredictable from ten minutes to two hours.


2018 August 11

(It was actually early August 12 UTC when I got back to finish this chapter, but let's call it August 11 UTC, which it is.)

Well, this just got a lot more interesting. After yesterday's adventures I descended into the prison toward Chen Lin's cell and found him dead. Upon examining the corpse, The Lutece brother and sister appeared and explained that in an alternative reality he was still alive. Elizabeth opened a tear into that reality and we entered it. As we enter the alternative reality, we pass checkpoint GoodClub02.

Alternative reality doesn't just change one thing. The prison, which was almost empty when we explored it going down was now filled with oppressed people and victims of tyranny. There is lots of new loot to find that wasn't there before, enemies we'd killed who need to be killed again, plus there are new enemies to be defeated. None of these are the kind of epic combat we endured yesterday (no super-villains). The sniper rifle works very well in these encounters. The adversaries don't aim well and there's usually plenty of time for an aimed shot to the centre of mass or head. Also, always launch crows against massed opponents and, if you have the salts, follow up with fire.

Finally made it back to the Plaza of Zeal where we expect another major battle. After having been beaten up by WordPress and everything else today, I'll defer that to the morrow. We close the day with checkpoint SFink_FinktonHub.

I need to replenish salts and health. I may need to go back into the Good Time Club to find resources I didn't need at the time before venturing into the tree chipper.


2018 August 12

I was running low on salts and health so I went back into the Good Time Club to look for them. This is a chapter change and checkpoint, but doesn't take you back. I found salts to top up to 100% but no health. Went back out to Plaza of Zeal, another chapter change and checkpoint. Was immediately attacked, as expected, and fought off attackers with sniper rifle and volley gun. Since we're in an alternative reality, some things we defeated before, such as the automated turret, are now back and have to be possessed and blown away with the volley gun again. After suppressing the first attack, explored the plaza and found some ammo, money, and salts. On the wharf there was a tear with health kits on the other side, so I was able to top up health.

From the wharf, I went back to the clock shop where I solved the puzzle of the clock and got another infusion and Voxophone. The grandfather clock tells you how to set the clock on the wall to open the hidden safe.

Now we proceed to Chen Lin's workshop (checkpoint SFink_GunShop) where the shrine to Buddha has transformed into a shrine to Comstock in this reality. Upstairs, we meet a ghostly Chen Lin who seems obsessed with the sound and danger of machines. Going back downstairs we meet Mrs Lin who is now an occidental. She tells us Chen Lin has been driven insane by having his machines confiscated and taken to the Shantytown Police Impound. So, it's off to there. When you leave the gun shop, there's a checkpoint of SFink_FinktonHub.

(The fact that you can force a checkpoint by entering and leaving particular venues is useful to know. If you need to put the game down and not lose your progress and you've passed through one of these gates recently, just go back and forth through it to cause a save to the present point.)

I had the opportunity to pick up an RPG dropped by one of the police I killed in the earlier battle. This came in handy when attacked by more cops on the way to Shantytown. It isn't elegant, but it gets the job done. When you enter the elevator to Shantytown, there's checkpoint SFink_ShantyTop. There's an office before the elevator that takes you to Shantytown where you find some goodies and a lockpick and you get to see a new vigor behind bars. We haven't yet acquired the ability to unlock it.

When the elevator arrives in Shantydown, you reach checkpoint Fink3. The ambience of Shantytown is like nothing we've seen before. This is where Columbia hides its gritty underside. We pick up some lockpicks, then get attacked by a bunch of locals who can be dealt with with Crows and the Sniper Rifle. Didn't even get killed once! Picked up another infusion they were guarding and applied it to increasing maximum health.

Vox Repeater Proceeded to the Graveyard Shift bar. On the way, there's an opportunity to pick up a Repeater rifle. Thinking it better suited to inside work, I exchanged the RPG for it. I'm now carrying my trusty Sniper Rifle and the Repeater.

Entering the Graveyard Shift takes us to checkpoint SFink_ShanHub02 where I'll call it a night and go out to look for Perseids.

Clouded out! Let's proceed through Shantytown.

In the Graveyard Shift, I scavenged but did not steal. I do not steal from active agents—it's wrong, and they tend to shoot back.

Went down to the basement, played the guitar, and collected the keys we'll need later.

After leaving the bar, we find a bunch of beggars smashing open a vending machine for the money. We can open a tear to a pile of food which will distract them while we collect the money. Upon entering the plaza after the bar, we pass checkpoint SFink_ShanHub01.

Now we proceed to the Bull House impound and encounter fierce resistance including turrets and a Mechanized Patriot. It might have been wiser to carry something more potent than the Sniper Rifle. I used up all my salts and most of my ammo, but by hooking to different firing positions managed to take them all down. There are tears which can provide med kits to restore health.

You can use sky-lines to get from point to point in the area. Some of them have useful things including a Voxophone.

Finally we arrive at the police precinct where we pass checkpoint SFink_Lockup01. Now I'm really out of here for today.


2018 August 13

When you find loot, you're told when Salt or a particular kind of ammo is full, but you're never told when you're already at 100% health. (This limit increases as the game progresses and you find infusions and use them to increase maximum health.) When finding food, be sure to check the health bar at the top left and if it's full, skip taking the food. That way it will still be around later if you need to restore health after a battle.

Occasionally you'll encounter rotten fruit which does nothing but decrease health. I presume this is a trap for people who blindly hit F to take everything they discover.

Started today's adventure inside the police station. Searched the office in the entryway and found the lockpick and Kinetoscope. As you approach the door to the interior, there's a tear you can open to obtain cover. I turned it on but never had need for it.

Crank gun Lots of cops attack (it's a police station, after all). Being police, they're pretty easy to defeat, but that's just the warm-up as a Mechanised Patriot soon appears. I tried my usual trick of possession and running around the back to shoot the gears, but failed every time (I wasn't fast enough to take the shot before the possession wore off). I ultimately just blew off its head and killed it with frontal shots. It dropped a crank gun which I picked up.

Then you enter the main hall on the ground floor. There you'll be attacked by more cops. After defeating and looting them, searches of the ground floor turn up more lockpicks and an infusion in a chest which can be opened with the keys we found in the basement of the Graveyard Shift bar.

Going upstairs, we find a tear which provides access to medical kits. This allows topping off health, which was seriously depleted. Elsewhere, there is a locked room which requires 5 lockpicks to enter. In it, we find another infusion and gear. I took, but did not equip, the gear. The two infusions were used for salt capacity and shield strength, respectively. There are more lockpicks to be found on this floor.

Returning to the ground floor, we revisit the room with the safe, which now contains a bunch of silver Eagles and a silver bar.

Descending toward the basement, we get a glimpse of Chen Lin's tools locked up in the impound. At the bottom level there are jail cells, one of which contains a dead woman and a lockpick. As we enter the basement we pass checkpoint SFink_Lockup02.

Vox Burstgun There are other things to explore and some supplies on this level. Finally, as we approach the tools, we see a tear in which the room is empty. This is apparently another alternative reality in which Chen Lin's tools were never seized. We walk through the portal and find that the storeroom which previously contained the tools is now full of seized Vox weapons which, if we wish, we can take. But the Burstgun doesn't seem more capable than what I already have and ammo is much harder to come by, so I gave them a pass.

Now, since we're in another alternative reality, we need to re-explore the police station. All we find is a new Voxophone on a desk on the way back upstairs. As we proceed to the door of the police station, we can hear explosions and impacts from outside.

Exiting the police station passes checkpoint SFink_ShanHub01. (Note that these checkpoint names are re-used, but each save file is distinguished by the time and date of the save. I don't know if a Continue is done from a single save file or whether it requires them all.)

Walking outside, we encounter a new phenomenon: a pitched battle in which nobody is shooting at us! Vox, who in this reality are armed, are fighting with police. We can search corpses and may get fired upon by automated turrets, but neither side attacks us. I tried to use the sky-lines to hop to the other side of Shantytown and avoid the battle, but I'm sufficiently lame at navigating them that I kept ending back where I started. I ultimately want overland, finally reaching the other side of the square where, outside the Graveyard Shift, people are having their pictures taken with a blown up Handyman. There's a Voxophone there.

Entering the bar takes us through checkpoint SFink_ShanHub02. There's another Voxophone inside along with some supplies. Once again, I refrained from stealing things behind the bar. I topped up health from a Dollar Bill.

Then it's just a matter of returning to the elevator, leaving Shantytown, and returning to the Plaza of Zeal in Finkton. Walking through Shantytown shows how different this reality is: there are corpses of defeated police everywhere, the residents are armed, and posters of Booker DeWitt celebrating him as a hero of Vox are on the walls. Booker begins to vaguely remember his part in the revolt.

Charge vigor When we take the elevator back to Finkton, we pass checkpoint Fink3. There we find the storage room with the Charge vigor that we saw before. The bars have now been blown away in the conflict. We drink the vigor, which confers great power in mêlée conflict. The direct key to select the vigor is 6.

Exiting the plaza, we pass checkpoint Fink2. There is a battle underway in the plaza and this time they're gunning for us. These are soldiers, not cops, so they shoot better and have better armour. There is an automated turret we must take out. This was a difficult battle, and I used up all of my Repeater ammo. I used hooks to evade part of it and get to Chen Lin's workshop. Entering it passes checkpoint SFink_ShantyTop. (Where do they get these names? Beats me!)

Inside both Chen Lin and Lady Lin are dead in this reality. There's a Voxophone on the table. I'm running pretty low on supplies and am out of ammo on one of the weapons I'm carrying so I'd have liked to enter the weapons shop to look for supplies, but the door was blocked by steel wheels which were presumably debris from the battle.

Leaving the gun shop anteroom passes checkpoint SFink_ToFactory. Now we're to proceed to the factory, but it's here I decided that was enough for today. We could be in better shape here: Salts are around 50% and Health 75%. Money is $1211 and we have 22 lockpicks. It's said we'll have opportunities to replenish in the near future, but that's supposed to be after a battle. We'll see.

We're currently carrying a Volley Gun and a Vox Repeater. If I come across a Sniper Rifle or Hand Cannon I may want to trade in the Repeater, as it will be difficult to reload.

In the process of today's events, unlocked the “Armed Revolt” achievement. That's just 10 out of 80 achievements and, in terms of chapters, we're well beyond the half way point (24/40).


2018 August 14

Resumed inside the entry to the gun shop. Crossed the street to the locked door on the other side of the street. Vox partisans are engaged in combat there and one eventually breaks the lock so we can enter. As we proceed toward the factory, there's another battle which is eventually joined by a Mechanised Patriot. We can open a tear to a rocket automaton which will help defeat it. There are a lot of salts here and a tear which opens up to multiple med kits. There are additional police to deal with as you approach the factory gate.

Once they are subdued, all Hell breaks loose and it isn't immediately obvious where it's coming from. It turns out a Zeppelin has pulled up to the side of the platform leading to the factory gate (to the left as you're looking back from the gate). At this point we pass checkpoint SFink_ToFactoryZep.

The source of all the bother is a robotic rocket cannon mounted on the belly of the Zeppelin. You cannot destroy this from the ground with any weapon or vigor and it cannot be possessed. All you'll accomplish trying is to use up all your ammo and salts. This is a particularly bad idea given what's coming.

The only way to silence the cannon is to destroy the entire airship. To do this, you have to get on board, which requires hooking to the skyline from the platform near the factory gate, making a transfer to another skyline, then waiting until it brings you near enough to jump aboard. I found the skyline connection at random. You have just an instant to dismount onto the Zeppelin platform. I remain totally lame at this skyline business—things just happen too fast and I'm usually looking in the wrong direction.

Once on board, there are guards and a robotic turret to deal with. At this point, I was armed only with the shotgun and machine gun, since I'd run out of ammo for anything more powerful and I couldn't find an RPG in the plaza. The usual trick of possess the turret, approach it, and shoot from close range works here. When you enter the main part of the gondola, you're attacked by a few police who are easily dealt with, and then a Mechanised Patriot who isn't. You don't seem to be able to kill one of those suckers with either the machine gun or shotgun regardless of how many times you shoot the gear on its back or how accurate your aim.

I got killed five times trying to deal with the Patriot, and this is extraordinarily frustrating because each time you're resuscitated you're back at the entrance to the plaza, so you have to run the gauntlet of the plaza (where the Zeppelin continues to fire rockets which can kill you, but it doesn't seem to be particularly aiming, so it's a matter of luck whether you get hit), then hook to the skyline, find the magic transfer, and finally dismount at just the right time to get back aboard. I spent the better part of an hour getting through this until I finally killed the Patriot. The secret was noticing that in the bow of the gondola there's an RPG just sitting there. I had plenty of RPG ammo, so once I had that I could use it on the Patriot's back, which did the job in one shot. With the Zeppelin now pacified, I searched it for resources, finding a sniper rifle with which I replaced the shotgun. So far, as long as I have ammo for both, I like the combination of the rifle for reaching out and touching adversaries and the RPG for general mayhem. The only disadvantage of the RPG is that you can't carry all that many shots, so you have to pick them carefully.

After collecting everything on board, I proceeded to the engine in the back of the gondola where there a bunch of wires you can cut with the attach hook (the game tells you about this as you approach the engine). Once you cut the wires, the Zeppelin will begin to fall. (Why? Airships don't need the engine to maintain altitude—that's what the big gasbag is for.) Anyway, what you're supposed to do is immediately leave the gondola and wait on the platform outside until a skyline passes as you fall, then attach and escape back to the plaza when it takes you over a suitable landing point.

I was outside on a platform (you have to choose one), and I never saw a skyline pass until I was killed in the Zeppelin crash. When resuscitated, I was pleased to see that the Zeppelin was now destroyed and that I was able to proceed to the factory. I searched the plaza again and restored consumables from what I found.

Entering the gate to the factory, we find more supplies. There is a telescope at the top of the stairs, just before you're about to open the door to the factory itself. Opening that door passes checkpoint Fink4, where I stopped for today.

At this point I'm at 100% on health and salts, have $1037 and 22 lockpicks, and am carrying the sniper rifle and RPG with reasonable (but not full) ammo for both. This was not a big day for collecting things, and I'm in about the same shape as I started the session, but better armed and with the Zeppelin and two dead Patriots behind me.


2018 August 15

When we enter the factory, we find lots of loot including gear which seems useful (full restoration of health after reincarnation). There are lockpicks and ammo and lots of corpses to search. Finally we make it to an elevator which, while rising, shows remarkable scenes of things we've encountered previously being manufactured in the Fink factory.

The elevator stops halfway and a phone in the cabin rings. It's Daisy Fitzroy, who says that the Booker DeWitt who was a hero of the Vox was killed and replaced by an enemy, me, and that Vox is now sworn to destroy him. Having been warned, we proceed upward as the elevator resumes rising. When we reach the top level, we pass checkpoint SFink_FactTop. Starting at this point, we should assume any Vox we encounter are enemies, not allies.

After killing some Vox, we find more Gear in a side room and a Voxophone near a blackboard with a sketch of the Songbird automaton. It's Fink speaking of the merger of man and machine. We we enter the office of the factory, we pass another checkpoint, SFink_FactOffice. This was, as I played it, only a minute past the last one. There's no knowing the time until the next one. Somebody who develops a checkpoint/restore at a low level for this game environment will be a hero to busy and distracted players (and no, signals TSTP and CONT don't work—I've tried them).

Undertow vigor There is a safe in this room with lots of loot around it, including the first gold bar we've encountered. We now have more than 2000 Eagles for the first time. There are also more lockpicks. Finally, near the door to leave the room, we find the Undertow vigor. This brings distant enemies closer or (hold right mouse) allows seizing them and casting them into the void. It has direct select key 7.

Now we have to hairpin unlock the door to the outside. We soon find ourselves in a battle with enemies firing from an adjacent sky barge and dropping in from sky-lines. Then a Fireman joins the fun and must be dispatched by a combination of vigors (I used shock and crows) and the handy-dandy RPG. I eventually used the sky-line to land on the barge and eliminate the remaining resistance. There are some supplies there.

There's a Tesla coil on the platform, which we can activate through a tear. This gives us, if we stay close to it, power which we'll need because, before long, we'll be attacked by a Handyman. The Handyman can appear anywhere. He can be stunned by Shock or Fire, but the RPG or sniper rifle seems ineffective even if you aim carefully at the heart. I finally picked up a Repeater dropped by a Vox I'd dispatched earlier, and it did the trick. You're supposed to find gear after killing a Handyman, but I found nothing after searching the remains. There's a telescope near the Tesla coil. You get points for using it, but, as usual, there's nothing interesting to see.

After all of this action, we proceed to Fink's office where, we see, through wire-reinforced glass, Daisy Fitzroy threatening a young white boy with a pistol. We boost Elizabeth up to enter a ventilation shaft, then pound on the glass to distract Daisy. When she turns in our direction, Elizabeth drops from overhead and kills Daisy with scissors. She says it's in her nature. OK, Liz, we've learned something new about you.

As we leave Fink's office we pass checkpoint SFink_FirstLady, which is where I decided to hang it up for tonight. I still haven't had a chance to effectively use the Undertow vigor. I now have $2016, 30 lockpicks, am carrying the sniper rifle and RPG and using the newly-acquired “Fit as a Fiddle” gear which restores health after reincarnation along with the “Scavenger's Vest” where enemies you kill have an increased probability of bearing ammo when you search their corpses.


2018 August 16

Right before opening the door that leads to the First Lady's Airship, there's a door to a room containing Fink's body and a Voxophone. An adjoining room is the one we looked into from outside which contains an infusion. I used it to increase maximum health.

When you enter the airship there are a few things to collect and a locked door. You pound on the door but nothing immediately happens. Then you can proceed to the control panel of the airship, set a course, and set off toward Emporia. There's a flyby by the Big Bird, and we change course again. Elizabeth reappears, having come out of the room with the door you knocked on. She looks in better shape than previously and more elegant. There are a few more encounters with the Bird. When we arrive in Emporia, we encounter the Lutece brother and sister, the latter of whom is playing a player piano. The brother hands us a card with plans for the Bird.

Pushing aside the piano opens up the way to a plaza outside the dock and brings us to checkpoint Emp. On the plaza we see citizens fleeing Columbia boarding a sky barge and being forced to leave their baggage behind to get everybody on board. Naturally, we loot all the unattatended and abandoned luggage. We're able to pretty much top off everything. Leaving the environs of the gondola, we cross a bridge and come under attack by Vox, who have a Fireman on their side. One of them is armed with a grenade launcher. We're able to summon a Mosquito through a tear and use it to wipe out some of the opposition. Finally, I manage to blow away the Fireman with the RPG and use crows against the grenadier and then waste him with the RPG.

Vox Hail Fire With things now quiet, I was very low on health and salts, so I went back across the bridge and picked up resources I'd bypassed the first time because I was full-up. Looting the corpses of the Vox yields lots of Vox ammo. I exchanged my sniper rifle and RPG, both of which were very low on ammo for a Vox Repeater and Hail Fire.

Outside the station there's an overturned baggage cart with another lockpick. The station door can be opened with a hairpin. We cross checkpoint EMP_PianoScene somewhere in the previous events. I don't recall precisely where, but it was only 7 minutes after Emp.

Inside the station, there is a locked door (3 picks), inside of which there's another infusion, which I applied to salts capacity. Back in the main hall, we summon a hook with a tear and use it to get to a maintenance platform where we find some ammo and another lockpick.

Vox Heater There are corpses in the station from which we obtain lots of Vox ammo. Proceeding to the gondola dock outside, we meet several more Vox which are reasonably easily dealt with. I was unimpressed with the Hail Fire, so I exchanged it for a Heater one was carrying. I have lots of Heater ammo.

Approaching gondola platform summons a massive Vox attack, accompanied by their own Motorised Patriot. Fortunately, we can summon our own through a tear, and it helps somewhat. There is also a turret near the gondola which we can summon but I never used it. I had to do the usual trick of possessing the Vox Patriot then shooting it in the back with the Heater.

At the end of this battle I was almost zeroed out on health and salts, so I began to search corpses and resources around the gondola. I jumped onto the gondola and opened a hairpin lock to its control cabin. This took me past checkpoint EMP_Funicular.

This put me in a funny position, since I haven't finished searching the other side of the platform. I assumed the checkpoint would be when I started the gondola to go to the next chapter, but with this game you never know. I don't want to continue tonight, so tomorrow I'll begin by going back and searching the rest of the platform before proceeding back to the gondola and further on. There's a sniper rifle and ammo in the control cabin and a hand cannon in the other end of the gondola.

We end the session with $2284, 30 lockpicks, and carrying the crank gun and heater.


2018 August 17

We resume near the gondola at checkpoint EMP_Funicular. Searching the right side of the platform reveals a telescope and some goodies. I was low on salts and health, so I went back into station and pretty much topped things up. I exchanged the heater for a shotgun I found in the station—it's easier to find ammo for it. Returning to the gondola, I exchanged the crank gun for the hand cannon there.

Pulling the lever takes us on a gondola ride to the station at Port Prosperity. On the rise we encounter the Lutece twins and learn that the sister was the one who invented the quantum flapdoodle that makes everything float in the air.

We find some supplies and proceed toward the ticket office where we meet two Vox. The Hand Cannon makes quick work of them. There's a ticket office to the left with some supplies, a desk containing salt (which we don't need at this point) and a lockpick. But you can't pick up the lockpick! In the same office there's a safe which requires three lockpicks. After opening the safe and taking the 150 or so Eagles inside, now you can pick up the lockpick on the desk. It looks like there's a limit of 30 on how many lockpicks you can carry and that once you reach the limit you can't pick up any more. You'd think that when you tried to pick up a lockpick and were at the limit you'd get a red “Full” indication as for anything else, but no.

There is a lot of money to be had searching the station—more than we've ever encountered before. Outside the ticket office there's another lockpick and a Voxophone. There's another ticket office on the other side of the corridor. This one has another safe with around the same amount of money inside and, also requires three lockpicks. There are supplies at various places in the office and its back room.

Proceeding further into the station, we come to the Salty Oyster bar and restaurant. This requires three lockpicks to enter. After entering, we're attacked by three policeman who are no match for the Hand Cannon. Searching the place, we find one replacement lockpick. Under one of the tables, there's another piece of Gear which I took but didn't equip since it didn't seem better than the one I already had. In the back of the bar there's a Kinetoscope and two bathrooms. In the back bathroom there's an RPG and ammo. I was already full of ammo, but replaced the crank gun with the RPG. I just love that thing, and it doesn't have the start-up delay before the first shot that the crank gun has.

After all of this I was as flush with cash as I'd ever been (more than $3000), so I visited a Minuteman's Armory vending machine I came across and upgraded the Hand Cannon (increase damage and decrease reload time) and RPG (increase damage). This brought my balance down to around $1750 but, given what was to come, seems in retrospect a wise investment.

Leaving the ground floor of the station, we walk into a battle. There are police and a Fireman. Finally managed to defeat them, expending several RPG rounds. There was nothing really new about this—mostly tedious. Around this point, I was hoping that after subduing them I'd come to a checkpoint; I was approaching the one hour point.

No such luck.

I had seriously depleted my ammo, so I went back to the Salty Oyster where I'd left some RPG ammo in the toilets because when I passed that way the first time I was full up. I also found some Hand Cannon ammo along the way, but not enough to completely top up.

Now we go up another flight of stairs and right into another, larger fight. There are a large number of Vox, multiple Firemen, and a Mechanised Patriot. On this level there is a Tesla coil you can summon with a tear. I learned how you use these. Simply take up a position near the coil and many attackers who try to approach you will be zapped and stunned (but not necessarily killed). This can buy time to aim and shoot them or use vigors on them. It does not help with those who attack you from a distance, however, which the Firemen and Patriot do. The Vox were eliminated relatively quickly, but the Firemen and Patriot took a lot of Possession and RPG action to deal with, as well as getting killed around six times.

At this point we're an hour and a half into game play without a checkpoint, but there's one more nasty surprise waiting. After you've finally killed the Patriot and the action music has stopped, you discover (if you're running steamPeek, as you should) that the EMP_Station checkpoint has just been made. Fine, you think, that makes sense—just after the big battle. But when you resume from that checkpoint, you're in the middle of the battle with the last Patriot and you have to kill him all over again! The only other alternative is to continue to play to the next checkpoint, heaven knows how far that may be (so far we've seen them anywhere from seven minutes to an hour and a half apart). I honestly do not understand what the game designers were trying to accomplish here other than irritate their customers. Once the player has accomplished something, why make them repeat it just because they may have other things to do with their life?

We end up with $1944 and 25 lockpicks and seriously depleted consumables. I'm hoping we'll be able to replenish them after killing the Patriot (again) and searching the area. But this is more than enough for today.


2018 August 18

Resumed at the EMP_Station checkpoint and, as I described yesterday, had to kill the Patriot once again. This is the fourth time I've killed that same Patriot, the last two because I simply couldn't believe they put the checkpoint there and had to confirm it.

That buys a bit of peace, so it's time to search all the areas we've been fighting through. I managed to find health and salts to restore losses from the battles. Searching an office to the right of the Comstock statue yields a lockpick and money.

There's also an office to the left of the statue, and this one has a safe (3 lockpicks) and, in a storage room to the back, a Voxophone. We're learning more about the Lutece field and parallel realities.

Now we go up another flight of stairs and there's a gate with a hairpin lock. Opening it triggers an attack from two Vox snipers who were quickly subdued with crows and the RPG. They were firing from a balcony which you can only get to via a hook. It's worth exploring there, as the corpses and containers yield useful things.

After searching this level, we enter the bookstore, which requires one lockpick. On the counter there is gear: the Hill Runner's Hat. I took it, but did not equip it. There's another Voxophone on the counter next to the stuffed bear. Now we get into quantum entanglement communication across parallel universes—where have I heard this before?

Descending the stairs into the reading room triggers another Vox attack. This one is sneaky. You're attacked from the stairs in the bookstore and that one is easily dealt with, but what you don't know is that more are now waiting outside. For the moment, you can explore the reading room where you find a Voxophone which tells you about the button below the cash register in the Salty Oyster, which we visited before the big battle.

When you leave the bookstore (or even approach its door), you will be attacked by Vox, and they keep coming at you as you search the area to top up consumables. Just when you think you've got the last one, you go down another flight of stairs and they're at you again. Finally, we make it back to the Salty Oyster.

Return to Sender vigor Inside, to the left and below the cash register, a brass button has appeared. (It's not obvious at first glance.) Pushing it opens a secret door to the left as you're standing behind the register. Inside this room is an infusion which I used to increase shield capacity and the Return to Sender vigor. This vigor has direct select code 8, and completes the suite of vigors—we now have them all. This room also contains some cash, lockpicks, and another Voxophone.

Fortunately, the Vox seems to have stopped bothering us, so I spent some time exploring regions we'd passed through to top up consumables. I also found quite a bit of money which didn't seem to be there the first time I passed through. I managed to top up Hand Cannon and RPG ammo.

Since I was now once again feeling flush with cash, when I passed a Minuteman's Armory I purchased the 25% damage increase upgrades for the Hand Cannon, RPG and Sniper Rifle.

Returning to the top level of the station we pass through a one-way turnstile and (finally) reach checkpoint EMP_Turnstiles. This was more than enough for one day, thanks.

We end up with $1778 and 26 lockpicks, still carrying the Hand Cannon and RPG with everything topped up.


2018 August 19

We start on the other side of the turnstile. There is some loot here, and then we proceed to an elevator which requires an access code. When you press the button to summon the elevator, it tells you the access code is required and Elizabeth says she doesn't know how to pick such things. Go back and there's a pile of books on the counter nearest the door. These books weren't active before, but now that you've called the elevator you can push them aside and find the key written on a pad of paper below them. Go back to the elevator, which will now work and take us to Downtown Emporia. When we arrive there, we pass checkpoint EMP2. Continuing the gross inconsistency in checkpoint times, this one was no more than five minutes since the last, EMP_Turnstiles.

As soon as you arrive in Emporia and walk up to the platform, you're attacked by Vox, cops, and a Handyman. The Vox are shooting from barges, balconies, and dropping onto the platform from the skyline. They keep shooting at you and distract from attacking the Handyman. I finally shocked and stunned the Handyman and got in a kill shot with the RPG. As always, when you kill a Handyman, you get new gear. I took but did not equip this one.

Now I set off to explore Emporia. I started by taking the skyline and dropping off at various places. I did not explore in anything like the order of the walkthroughs below. When I entered the lobby of the Prophet's Bank, I hit another checkpoint, EMP_BankExterior, just 15 minutes since EMP2. Great, I thought—maybe there are lots of checkpoints here so you can explore in any order and come back when you like. This was not to be.

For much of the time I was essentially lost. Every now and then (far too infrequently for my taste) you encounter a “you are here” map, but there are so many twisty-windies and ups and downs it's easy to become disoriented. As you wander, there are several set piece battles you walk into, some involving Patriots, Firemen, Vox, and snipers. But as you search alleyways and buildings, there is also isolated resistance. This comes as a surprise but they are generally not as difficult to defeat as the mass attacks.

I found an infusion, which I used to increase health capacity.

We find two Voxophones with confusing messages relating to the Comstocks. Two gear packages were found, “Blood to Salt” and “Shock Jacket”. I equipped the former. When you kill an adversary at close range, 40% of the time your salts increase. I used a lot of ammo in the various battles but managed to find replacements. The basement of the rebel bar, after you've subdued the resistance, is a treasure trove of ammo. Emporia much be a rich place. There's lots of money to be had, even on corpses you search.

Finally, we come to the Comstock house. At the gate there is a palm print reader. Elizabeth places her palm on the reader and it says something like, “So nice to see you, Lady Comstock, especially since you've been dead 19 years.” Now we must go off to the Memorial Gardens to, I dunno, find Lady Comstock's hand? Anyway, mercifully, at this point we passed checkpoint EMP_Airlock1 and after around two hours I get to put this down for today.

We end up with $3336 and 24 lockpicks, still carrying the Hand Cannon and RPG, both with almost full ammo and health and salts topped up.


2018 August 20

We're off to find the corpse, the hideous corpse of Lady Comstock!

We proceed to the left with the gate of Comstock House at our back and encounter another telescope. This one is balky, but when it finally decides to work it, as usual, shows nothing interesting. Along the alley that leads to Memorial Gardens there are interconnected open shops to the left. There are money, supplies and a lockpick there, the Ammo Cap gear, which provides 40% probability of auto-fill of a magazine without reloading (I equipped it), and a safe which, opened with three lockpicks, yields more than 200 Eagles.

Proceeding to the cemetery (all of this is unopposed), we search the place and the many corpses there, some of which are carrying substantial amounts of money and ammo. We find another lockpick. There is a tear behind which is a Crank Gun. I exchange the RPG for it, continuing to carry the Hand Cannon for up close and personal persuasion. Beneath an archway, there's another tear with medical kits. We don't need them right now, but it's nice to know they're there. We pass two adjacent graves with “Lutece” headstones: what's that all about? There is an open suitcase near one with a tennis racket and other items on top.

Eventually we approach Lady Comstock's crypt and see her inside, in a sealed glass coffin, but the gate is barred by a shimmering lock we can't open. The trick is to go to an adjacent crypt we examined before and found also barred by a gate. But on either side of the gate are torches which can be lit by using the fire (“Devil's Kiss”) vigor on them. This opens the crypt and inside we collect gear: this time the Bullet Boon which increases magazine size on all weapons by 50%. This is great, but I'll defer equipping it until I'm in a place where there's ammo available.

Return to Lady Comstock's tomb, a tear has now appeared in the lock and Elizabeth can open it. We proceed inside to Lady Comstock's coffin. She looks perfectly preserved, so all we need to do is open it up, saw off her hand, and away we go. Elizabeth seems to have no problems with this—just not that into Mom, I guess.

Around the back of the coffin there's a padlock we can open. The moment the coffin is opened, all Hell breaks loose. Lady Comstock's corpse evaporates and a wraith appears, berates Elizabeth and seems to envelop her in some kind of spectral discharge, then flies out the door. Elizabeth seems unharmed by this.

The moment we step outside the crypt, Hell's-a-poppin'. Lady Comstock's ghost appears to have the ability to raise the dead and turn them into heavily-armed zombies. Just about the worst place you want to see a demonstration of this is in a cemetery, but here we are. There's little point wasting ammo on the zombies—you may avert an imminent attack but they're just resurrected and come back at you. What you have to do is kill the ghost, and that isn't easy.

The ghost is a bit like the Crow—you can only attack it when it materialises, and only high powered weapons work. Your best bet is to keep the zombies at bay with vigors (which neutralise them for a period of time) and wait for the ghost to appear nearby, then blast away. I used up all of my crank gun ammo on the ghost, inflicting some non-fatal damage and finally nailed her at close range with the trusty Hand Cannon. Once you've dispatched the ghost, the zombies cease hostilities. Their corpses yield no loot.

After this battle is over, we hear voices and find the Lutece twins at the graves, apparently digging their own graves. They conduct another of their enigmatic conversations as we overhear them. Salt, health, and ammo were severely depleted in the fight, so I made another pass around the cemetery collecting resources I'd bypassed on the way to the crypt because I was full. I was able to top up health and salt, but only found a little ammo. I traded back the crank gun (which was out of ammo) for the RPG, for which I had a full supply. (When you pick up a weapon, the one you dropped remains there and you can return for it later.)

Well, so much for the cut off the hand approach. All we have after this episode is a dead (at least for moment) ghost. As we're leaving the cemetery, the Luteces appear again and tell us we must go on a quest to three previously locked places in Emporia which we now must visit. As it happens, I encountered all of them in my random wanderings yesterday. Now we have to go back, unlock them, and obtain what's inside.

As we leave the cemetery, we pass checkpoint EMP_Cemetery and that's enough for today.

We end the day with $3658 (a new high—there wasn't anything to spend money on today other than resurrection, not that I'm knocking it), 24 lockpicks, and full health and salt. I'm carrying the Hand Cannon and RPG, and could use ammo for both. All infusion properties (health, shield, and salt) are at level 6. We obtain achievement “Vigorous Opposition” today, number 16 of 80. I think I'll start the next session by equipping the Bullet Boon gear and then looking for ammo to fill up the increased capacity it confers on all weapons.


2018 August 21

Before leaving the cemetery, I equipped the Bullet Boon gear, increasing magazine size by 50%. I wandered back the way I'd come to see if I could find some more ammo, but none was to be had. I then proceeded toward Lutece Labs in the Market district. The street is nearly destroyed and there's the Magical Melodies building floating in the air near the crumpled street. Gingerly going around the back, there's a hole in the wall and you can see some interesting things inside including a red tear. It is possible, but very difficult, to jump from the street to a plank that extends from the floating house. It took me around 15 minutes of trying and beginning to think I was missing something I needed to pick up elsewhere when I managed to get to just the right position and hit Space (jump) and W in the right order and I was inside. A phonograph starts to play a Cindi Lauper song rendered in 1912 style. There is a locksmith set with 3 locks and a Voxophone which talks about how Fink's music publishing operation is stealing music from parallel universes and publishing it in Columbia—that explains it!

That's all there is to find after all the effort getting into Magical Melodies, but it's easy to jump back onto the street. Now we proceed toward the Lutece Laboratories, checking for supplies along the way. I stopped at a Dollar Bill and topped up RPG ammo—everything else was full. Outside the lab building, we're attacked by one revolutionary. I think it's usually more, but I may have killed some of them when I passed this way a couple of days ago while lost. The lab opens with a hairpin.

Inside is a lockpick and, upstairs, a Voxophone, and another infusion, which I applied to salts capacity. Back on the ground floor, if you walk right up to the sparking machine you're allowed to open a tear. This is the first of the three tears we're looking for. A Voxophone drops from the tear. Playing it, we hear Rosalind Lutece claim that Elizabeth was created by the machine (or perhaps summoned from a parallel reality). Immediately after we open the tear, we pass checkpoint EMP_LutLabTear where I called it a night.

There are amazing blackboards in the the Lutece Labs.

Bioshock Infinite: The Lutece Labs blackboard

At the end of the session, I have $3728, 29 lockpicks, and full health, salts, and ammo.


2018 August 22

Everybody was bank vault fighting!
It wasn't that exciting.
In fact, it was a little bit boring,
I almost started snoring.

There was freaky Comstock ghost,
and all her zombie host.
It takes twenty direct hits,
to blow the wraith to bits.

It isn't about skill,
but coming back when killed.
You gotta keep on shooting,
as your life's rebooting.

But that comes later. We start out where we left off in Lutece Labs, where we can pick up and play the Voxophone again about Elizabeth's origin. Leaving the lab building, we find ourselves on a street in the Market District which we explored before while lost. Many of the shops were unlocked on that pass through and could be re-explored now without additional lockpicks. Of course, that meant they'd been picked over, but we did find a few things I swear we didn't see before, such as a book containing a Vox code in the Hudson's clothes store basement. I'll bet that book doesn't appear until you've released Lady Comstock's ghost.

One of the stores had Minuteman's Armory and Vigor vending machines and I spent some of yesterday's loot on the Crows Boost ($575), which increases the stun duration of the Crows vigor and the RPG speed boost ($333), which doubles the speed of the RPG projectiles. Apart from buying ammo, health, and salts and paying resurrection fees, there isn't anything else you can do with money (that I've discovered), so it makes sense to use it on these kinds of upgrades when you're feeling flush.

We're heading for the Bank of the Prophet in the Financial District, which we visited before while lost, finding nothing much of interest. Well, now, when we approach it, we find it guarded by two Crows, a bunch of Vox, and finally a Fireman. Defeating them, we collect a substantial sum of money from the corpses.

Now we can enter the lobby of the bank, where we've been before. As we enter, we cross checkpoint EMP_BankInterior. We've picked over this area before, but found a few things we'd searched before which allowed topping up health and salts which had been depleted in the battle to get here.

This time, there's an elevator at the back of the lobby which wasn't there before. Going inside and pressing the button takes us to the main floor of the bank where more trouble awaits. Moments after we arrive at this level, we'll be attacked by a bunch of Vox. The strategy is to immediately climb the stairs to the left where there's a Sniper Rifle on the platform. I exchanged the Hand Cannon for it. When the Vox swarm in on the floor below, you can pick them off one by one (easier if you've immobilised them with a vigor—I used my trusty Crows) with the rifle. I'd forgotten how much the recoil of the Sniper Rifle reduces the rate of fire. This is a real issue in an engagement with lots of attackers like this one. The next time I pass a Minuteman's Armory, I'll pick up that reduced recoil upgrade; I'm sure it will pay off somewhere in the future. Once the battle was over, I went back where I dropped the Hand Cannon and exchanged the Sniper Rifle for it.

Once the Vox are defeated, we can return to the main floor and search their corpses and everything else. There is a lot of money here—more than we've ever seen before, including two safes. There's also lots of ammo and salts—you always find ammo lying around in banks, don't you?

Before proceeding to the giant vault, which is currently locked, we explore two side corridors and find more gear and lockpicks. I had already topped out at 30 lockpicks, so I couldn't take advantage of them. The gear was “Overkill”, and I opted to take it but not equip it at the present time.

In one of the side rooms off the left corridor there's a typewriter where you can enter the Vox code from the book we found in the basement of Hudson's. This causes a filing cabinet to slide away, revealing a hidden room containing more lockpicks, a large sum of money (gold and silver bars) and an infusion, which I used to increase shield capacity.

Once we've searched everything, we proceed down the corridor to the right. A Crow appears but does not directly engage us. Instead, he sends a bunch of revolutionaries which can be dealt with realtively easily. But when you've gotten the last one, a sniper starts taking shots, and it takes a while to figure out whence he's shooting. Once you suss that out, the RPG makes quick work of him. I was then expecting the Crow to get into the fight, but he didn't. Never try to figure out a birdbrain.

After searching corpses and the area of the battle, in a side room we find more gear, “Spectral Sidekick”. I took, but did not equip it. In another room in this area we find another safe which takes three lockpicks and yields lots of money. We also find another Voxophone, which fills in more of the back-story of Elizabeth's origin.

Now we can approach the statue in the vault where there's a shimmering tear. Opening it releases a red Raven which immediately attacks us. The old one-two punch of shock and RPG did the trick, and we find another Voxophone next to the corpse, which continues Elizabeth's story from another perspective. When you open this tear, you pass checkpoint EMP_bankTear.

Now, when we return to the vault door behind the statue it is open and we can see inside. The moment you step inside the vault, you're attacked by the ghost of Lady Comstock and her zombie minions. As at Memorial Gardens, there's no point wasting ammo on the zombies—the ghost just quickly resurrects them and sends them back at you (the resurrection graphics are particularly nice—you can confuse them with the ghost itself—you don't get much of a chance to appreciate them, however, since you're getting shot at from all directions). The best approach is to stun the zombies with vigors, then wait for the ghost to approach and shoot at very close range with high powered weapons such as the RPG and Hand Cannon. Don't expect a one shot kill, however—she's already dead! You have to grind her down with hit after hit after which you'll finally get in that last shot and she goes poof and all the zombies drop dead—or re-dead—or whatever. I got killed and resurrected around 20 times trying to get through this battle. It was only because I'd obtained and equipped the “Fit as a Fiddle” gear which causes health to reset to 100% on resurrection that this didn't end badly.

Finally, you make that last shot and all is quiet. At this point everything is severely depleted and it's off to search corpses, desks, and everything else to try to replenish health, salts, and ammo. After backtracking through much of the bank, I topped up everything except for a little ammo which I can pick up for a song the next time I encounter a Dollar Bill.

Finally, we proceed back to the elevator that brought us here. Pressing the button takes us back to the bank lobby, at which point we pass checkpoint EMP_BankInterior2. At this point we're done with the bank and can proceed to the next tear. That's enough for now, thanks.

We end today with the second of the three tears checked off, with $4717 (a new high for end of session, although it was higher before all of the resurrection action), the full 30 lockpicks, and carrying the Hand Cannon and RPG. Health and salts are full, and ammo is adequate for anything other than the kind of battle we just endured. I'm hoping we'll get a chance to top up before the next attack.


2018 August 23

We begin this session inside the bank lobby. Leaving it, we can proceed to the photo studio either via a sky-line or overland. I opted for the latter since every time I get on a sky line I end up in the wrong place. Along the way, I picked up some Hand Cannon and RPG ammo and am almost full. I stopped at a Minuteman's Arsenal and, as mentioned yesterday, bought the Sniper Rifle recoil decrease ($288) and Hand Cannon recoil decrease ($350). Next, I stopped at a Vigor vending machine and sprung for the Crows Trap Aid ($1485)—this turns corpses you killed with crows into crow traps for other adversaries. All this spending earned me the “Grand Largesse” achievement for spending more than $10,000 at vending machines.

Arriving at the photo studio, it can now be opened with a hairpin (before releasing Lady Comstock's ghost, the lock was unbreakable). Inside there isn't much of interest: some money in the cash register and a lockpick set which we can't pick up because we already have 30 lockpicks. The main attraction is the third and final tear. Opening it paves the way to the Comstock House and releases a Voxophone where the proprietor of the photo studio sows more confusion about Elizabeth's origins. Opening the photo studio tear brings us to checkpoint EMP_PhotoTear.

The next objective is the Comstock House where we've been told that opening the three tears will somehow grant us access (recall that is where the handprint reader is which we originally planned to fool by sawing off Lady Comstock's arm before everything got all ghosty and woo-woo). On the way there, we were unexpectedly attacked by several Vox beasts, including some with grenade launchers. Defeating them used up lots of ammo and consumables, so after peace was restored I backtracked to replenish supplies before the big battle expected at the Comstock House. I ended up buying some Hand Cannon and RPG ammo at a Dollar Bill to be absolutely full.

Returning to Comstock House, as we approach the courtyard in front with the statue, Lady Comstock's ghost has a third run at us (you can't keep a good spectre down) aided, as usual, by a bunch of zombies, this time including a number of grenadiers. I exchanged the Hand Cannon for a Sniper Rifle I got through a tear and activated a Mosquito through another tear to distract the zombies. I used a mix of Crows and Fire to suppress the zombies while taking shots of opportunity at the ghost with the RPG and Sniper Rifle. As in the bank vault, you have to just slowly grind her down. This time I only got killed around twelve times before tranquility was restored.

After the ghost is “killed”, it reappears again in front of the statue and has a heart-to-heart with Elizabeth, who explains to it that it came from a parallel reality where things differ from here. The ghost finally removes the lock from the Comstock House, opening our way to explore it. This passes checkpoint EMP_Airlock.

As before, the battle depleted, well, everything, so it was off to search the abundant corpses left behind from the carnage. For ghostly re-animated walking dead, these guys sure carry a lot of money, and I was also able to top off health and bring salts back up to around 90%. I found Sniper Rifle, Hand Cannon, and RPG ammo to replenish, but not top off, supplies of each. I decided it wasn't worth going all the way back to the Dollar Bill to completely top up these supplies.

Now we enter the Comstock House and find nothing in the foyer. Passing through a door brings us to a bridge which seems to end in mid-air. Opening the door passes checkpoint DCom, where I called it quits for today. This triggers the “Blood in the Streets” achievement, awarded for completing Emporia. We found no new gear today.


2018 August 24

We start by operating the lever at the end of the bridge to Comstock House. We black out and wake up back in DeWitt's office, with the Luteces blocking the usual exit door. We go through a side door (which didn't open before) and it's an attic with a hole in the top. The Big Bird arrives, has a conversation with Elizabeth, and swoops away with her, destination unknown. Looking out a hole in the side of the attic, we see the bridge to the Comstock House and two skyhooks. By attaching to a hook and dismounting on the bridge past the lever, we trigger a process by which the bridge extends toward the house. There's a white-out, and when it clears we're in a snowstorm (Booker remarks that's odd for July) with snowdrifts along the bridge. We walk up a large staircase and enter the house, passing checkpoint DCOM_InsideCH.

Proceeding further into the house, there's a great hall with a statue of Elizabeth and sign boards around it chronicling the misdeeds of Booker. There are candles everywhere. Going up the stairs past the statue passes another checkpoint, DCOM_GroundFloor. They're coming fast and furious here.

Finally, we reach an elevator and, taking it to the top floor, step out onto a bridge. There's yet another checkpoint here, DCOM_FirstFloor. As soon as we cross the bridge, we're spotted by a Boy of Silence, the first we've met. These do not attack directly, but animate puppets wearing Ben Franklin masks who attack en masse with sticks. Once these guys start coming at you, the best approach is to use vigors like Crows and Fire and their corresponding traps and only expend ammo when they close in and are about to whack you.

After killing the last Franklin puppet, there's a nasty surprise: two automated cannons high above the entrance to the house start shooting at you. It takes a while to figure out where the fire's coming from. Two shots from the RPG will silence them once you figure this out.

Now you can enter the house in peace, but you'll probably be depleted in just about everything. To the left is a room with a particularly uninteresting Kinetoscope and a much needed Health kit. And then, blooie, the game crashed to the desktop.

Restarting puts us back at the elevator, having to fight the whole battle over again. Fighting through it, we proceed to explore, get a little further, and blooie again. Restart, fight, and this time it hangs and has to be process killed from a SSH login from another computer. This happens two times more, even when I switched to full screen mode and disconnected the secondary screen just in case.

What changed? Well, today I updated the operating system on this machine to Xubuntu 18.04.1 from the 16.04 I was running before. I can only assume there is either some fundamental incompatibility between this system and the game engine or, perhaps, an incompatibility with the new version of Steam provided with the 18.04 update and the files in the ~/.steam directory, which were, of course, not updated.

What is clear is that this frequency of crashes combined with the random and often very long intervals between checkpoints in the game render it completely unplayable. You simply can't get from one checkpoint to the next, even, as in this case, when nothing much is happening between them other than peaceful exploration, before it crashes and bounces you back to the most recent checkpoint.

To see if I can get a handle on what's going on, I'm going to download Steam and the game onto Ragnar (where I've never previously installed Steam), which has been running 18.04 for several months from a clean install, copy over the checkpoint directory, and see what happens. If it works there, I may simply continue there, assuming its performance is adequate, or maybe try uninstalling and reinstalling from scratch on Hayek. But for the moment I'm at an impasse which has nothing to do with the game play but flaky software underlying it.

All right, after the better part of an hour fighting with the thing, I've managed to get it running on Ragnar. The most difficult part was discovering that after I'd copied over the save directory, it ignored the save file even though I'd turned off backup to Steam Cloud in the game until I quit the game, quit Steam entirely, restored the save directory once again, and then brought everything back up.

The second issue is that Ragnar is the antithesis of a gaming machine. Even with graphics quality set to “Low” (which isn't all that bad, actually) and resolution to 1024×576, the display is still jerky with random pauses. This makes it extremely difficult and frustrating to aim at moving targets—you miss lots of shots due to graphics lag that you'd have nailed on a faster machine. Now I'm beginning to twig to why gamers spend so much money on machines with fast GPUs.

Playing on Ragnar, I resumed at the DCOM_FirstFloor checkpoint outside the elevator, fought my way into the building for what is now the fifth time, and began to redo everything I'd done prior to the previous crashes, nervous, of course, expecting another crash. This time I made it to the incenerator room, collected the Voxophone and salts, and proceeded through the bathroom to the dormitory where another Boy of Silence unleashes puppets on us again. These are annoying but not as difficult, so far, as other adversaries, since the one-two punch of Crows and Fire makes quick work of most of them. Their corpses, however, never yield anything—you might as well not bother searching them.

Leaving the dormitory we're attacked by a Crow accompanied by several guards. The guards distract you from catching the Crow when he's vulnerable, and are best dealt with using vigors until you've killed the Crow. The graphics delay made this about three times as hard as it should have been.

After this, we can go upstairs where there's another Kinetoscope and a useless locksmith's bag (we're maxed out on lockpicks). Searching this floor yields little of use until we enter what appears to be a workshop where the puppets are assembled and/or maintained. At this point we pass checkpoint DCOM_Workshop—we've made it to a checkpoint without crashing—go Ragnar!

Beyond the workshop is a warehouse where we encounter another Boy of Silence and, of course, puppets. These are dealt with in the usual way and we collect gear which I took but did not equip. Thinking about it, I suspect the reason the Boys of Silence and puppets are so easy to defeat compared to adversaries we've already encountered (Firemen, Crows, Handymen, etc.) is that without Elizabeth to throw ammo, salts, and health during a battle it is much harder to prevail. Now that Elizabeth is missing, the game serves up a less formidable enemy for us to confront. In the workshop there's another Voxophone and some salts, but not enough to get back to 100%.

Now we pass through a projection room where a film is running with subliminal cuts, and we jump through a broken window into a path leading to the Warden's office. There's another Kinetoscope in this corridor. The corridor leads to a guards' office where we pass checkpoint DCOM_Security. The audible signal for checkpoints doesn't work on Ragnar for some reason, so I didn't notice I'd passed this one until some time later. Otherwise I'd have stopped here.

Slogging along until the next checkpoint, there are lots of cabinets to check, many of which yield money but not as much health and salt as we could use at this point. We encounter more Gear, “Rising Blood Lust”, in which each kill of an enemy temporarily increases the damage of the weapon which made it. I may give this a try.

Finally, we arrive at the Warden's office, where there's another Voxophone and a lever which, when pulled, opens the security gate back on the ground floor which was barred to us as we passed it the first time. This plays a confusing audio message. Sowing confusion seems to be what it's all about here. More importantly, this milestone passes checkpoint DCOM_Warden, and we can put this aside for the day.

At the end of this chaotic and interrupted session across two machines, we have $2751 and 30 lockpicks, salt around 60%, health around 30%, and low ammo for the Hand Cannon and RPG. There has been previous little ammo to be had in the Comstock House so far and nary a vending machine in sight to turn money into ammo. (What? Theocrat-plutocrats don't have vending machines in their floating mansions in the sky—what a shock!)

I think tomorrow I may try porting back the ~/.steam directory from Ragnar back to to Hayek and possibly uninstalling and re-installing Steam on Hayek to see if that fixes the crashes. It's clear that the crashes are not inherent to Xubuntu 18.04, since that what Ragnar is running, but there may be something about doing an upgrade instead of a clean install that leaves something in an inconsistent state.


2018 August 25

For what it's worth, the binary /usr/lib/games/steam/steam is identical on Hayek and Ragnar.

For the first attempt at back-migration to Hayek, bodily copied the entire ~/.steam directory from Ragnar to a 19 Gb /tmp/steamy.tar file on Hayek, which I installed in ~/.steam there, renaming the existing directory old.steam.

Started, and it came up OK at the last checkpoint om Ragnar. Played for 14 minutes and it froze again. Now I'm going to try rebooting with the auxiliary screen disconnected and see if it works in single screen mode from a clean reboot.

Rebooted single screen. Made it to the elevator past two waves of attacks by guards, where we find another Voxophone from Elizabeth and pass checkpoint DCOM_Return. Many terrified cries from Elizabeth in the background.

And, seconds later, it freezes again.

Copied the latest save directory back to Ragnar and restarted, still in 1024×576 graphics mode and Low quality to see if that improves responsiveness. It's ugly—let's see if it gets us there.

Pushing the button, rise up to encounter a door which was barred before but now is open. Proceeding past it, we find the silhouette of Elizabeth backlit by foggy light. As we get closer, she appears to be aged. She implores us to take her hand. When we do, we proceed to see New York burning, under attack from airships and maybe a Songbird. A sign gives us a clue the year is 1984. Aged Elizabeth hands us a card with a drawing and text about the Songbird. When we take it, we're projected through a tear and find ourselves back in 1912. After leaving the room in which we arrived, we pass checkpoint DCOM_Operating.

Once again, we hear Elizabeth's cries and warnings by those imprisoning her to keep the generators on which prevent her from opening tears to parallel realities. The corridor leads to the operating theatre, where two men are doing something to a restrained Elizabeth. We proceed around the operating room, undisturbed, to a staircase which leads to an upper level where the two generators that power the siphon are located. We're attacked by an automated turret which the RPG makes quick work of, and a bunch of Comstock's men, who are armoured and don't go easily. Finally, we're able to go up another level to the generator room where, unopposed by a cringing technician, we're able to pull a lever to turn off the generator. One down, one to go.

Now, as we go back down to go and turn off the second generator, we're attacked by two more turrets and more guards who paid no attention when we passed by them on the way to the first generator. These are as troublesome to dispatch as the first batch.

After we descend in order to go up to the generator on the other side, we're attacked by still more guards and a Mechanised Patriot. I don't know whether I was just lucky, but I disposed of this Patriot rather quickly with the Shock vigor and RPG. After this, there's no more opposition as you go up and disable the second generator. Again, there's a cringing technician. After the generator is turned off, you find a phial of salts in the generator room, which is much appreciated.

At the moment the second generator is turned off, a tornado appears, presumably summoned by Elizabeth, whose powers have now been restored, which wreaks havoc on the operating theatre facility.

Now we can return to the operating room proper, which is a bit difficult to get into due to all the rubble. Here we can free Elizabeth and remove a plug stuck into her upper back (presumably the “siphon” which deprives her of her powers). We hand her the plans to the Songbird, given us by her older self in 1984. She vows to kill Comstock. Booker says, “I won't let you. I'll do it.”

Now we return to the upper floor where we had the battles getting to the generators before. Now they're undefended, but I discover something I didn't know before. When you blast an automatic turret, its stand may contain goods, especially ammo, even kinds not used by the turret. I don't know if this is always the case, but it would have been handy to know before.

On this level, there are two locked doors, neither of which we could open before because we didn't have Elizabeth to pick them. The first takes three picks and opens on stairs which lead us to a room between the two generator rooms we've been able to look into but not access before. Inside is an infusion, which I used to augment maximum health (all three: health, shield, and salt capacity are now at level 8), a gold bar, and another Voxophone.

We now proceed back down the stairs to the corridor where there's another locked door which can be picked with a hairpin. This leads to an elevator which takes us up to the roof level where we can board Prophet Comstock's Zeppelin. When the elevator arrives at the room leading to the roof, we pass checkpoint CHU. This gave us the “Higher Learning” achievement for completing Comstock House.

Searching the room in which the elevator deposits us, we find a bunch of money, some ammo, and some salts which we don't need. As soon as you exit to the roof, which requires a hairpin pick, you're almost immediately attacked by a bunch of soldiers and a Mechanised Patriot. There is a Mosquito and Rocket Automaton which may be summoned through tears and brought into the battle on our side. The Patriot was dispatched by Possession and the RPG. Once this first engagement is concluded, we advance toward the barge that's supposed to take us to the Prophet's Zeppelin. Before we get there, we're attacked again by soldiers on the barge and another Patriot. This time I used the Crows and Fire to dispatch and distract the soldiers while dealing with the Patriot. When this contingent have been eliminated, we're left in peace to explore the area. There is a lot of ammo on the corpses and in containers on the roof, as well as more salts than we need. A lockpick is found near a crashed barge on the side of the roof.

Three lockpicks open a locked room containing a Voxophone and a safe (one lockpick) with 200 Eagles inside. There are two lockpicks to be had in front of a locked elevator. There is also a Vigor vending machine which I used to purchase the Shock Duration Aid for $575, which increases the time the Shock vigor stuns the target. This should be useful if we encounter additional Patriots. Like an idiot, I accidentally walked into a fire in the room with the safe and used up half of my health. I had to backtrack and find health I'd bypassed on the way here to top up again.

Returning to the barge, there's another telescope—again nothing exciting to see. I pulled the lever on the barge to launch it in the direction of the Comstock's Zeppelin. This passes checkpoint CHU_BargeRide, which concluded today's adventures.

At this point we have $3603, 26 lockpicks, full salts, health, and ammo.


2018 August 26

As soon as we resume, riding to the barge to the Hand of the Prophet Zeppelin, we're attacked by two barges full of armoured enemies. The best way to deal with this is to wait until they get close enough and then hook from our barge to theirs and attack from the hook. But watch out! Some of the enemy will jump to our barge and start shooting back at us. These guys are armoured, and one shot from the Hand Cannon, even at point blank range, is not guaranteed to do the trick.

Just when you think you've defeated them, you come under fire again and, as is so often the case, it isn't obvious from where. It turns out there are two mosquitos allied with them, which can be taken out with the RPG. Possessing them first gives you a better chance to aim and fire, but of course costs salts. There are some salts and health kits on the enemy barges which can be used to top up during the battle.

After prevailing against this assault, we finally arrive at the hangar deck of the Prophet's Zeppelin and pass checkpoint CHU_Hangar.

The hangar deck is heavily defended: there are automated turrets and many guards. When you think you've won, they start swarming in from the other side of the deck (which is divided by cabins and docking bays). There is an automated turret and rocket launcher which we can activate through a tear which will help in the battle.

After suppressing the defence, we start to search the cabins, where we can replenish health and salts. In one of the cabins there was a Vigor vending machine where I bought the Devil's Kiss Aid for $1241: this improves the lethality and spread of the Fire vigor. We find two lockpicks in one of the first cabins. Be sure to check the turrets you've destroyed—they contain ammo you may need later. In the process of this fight, I exchanged the Hand Cannon for the Sniper Rifle but then couldn't find the Hand Cannon afterward to switch back after having won. I'm pretty sure where I dropped it, but I went back and it wasn't there—or else maybe I mis-remembered.

After harvesting everything on this level, we proceed to the bow of the deck where there is a lever to clear the sky-line which is blocked by pods containing Mechanised Patriots ready to drop. After the line is clear, attach and we're taken to Deck 2, at which point we pass checkpoint CHU_MainDeck.

This deck is defended by a group of Comstock's men, which can be dealt with relatively easily with Crows, Fire, and the Sniper Rifle to clean up. Once peace was restored, I began to start to search the deck and what's the first thing I should find but a new Hand Cannon!

At the back of the deck is a Secure Area which takes three lockpicks to open. Inside are some ammo, supplies, and gear, the “Ghost Posse”, which I took but did not equip. Going up stairs outside the area leads to the upper level of this deck where we find another lockpick.

Toward the front of the deck we find the front hatch to Engineering which can be opened with one lockpick. (We've previously seen the back hatch, which can only be opened from inside.) Inside is a Voxophone with a message from Rosalind Lutece about how Elizabeth is to be the successor to Comstock.

Here, as on the Hangar Deck, we have to clear the sky-line by pulling a lever to drop the Patriot pods. This time the pods clear ever-so-slowly, which allows time for barges carrying Vox and Mechanised Patriots in their service to pull up and attack. I fired a few RPG rounds at the barges and took out some attackers, but mostly I just dodged the attack by using the sky-lines to jump from cover to cover until the announcement that the sky-line to the next deck was clear, and then I attached and got out of Dodge while the attack was still underway. I never did have to confront a Patriot directly in this attack. I have no idea whether they'll be waiting for me somewhere later.

The sky-line takes us upward to Deck 3: Engineering. Upon entering the hatch to the interior of this deck we pass checkpoint CHU_Interior. Upon entering Engineering we find some machinery in operation and some salts (which we don't, at this time, need). There are below-deck levels to explore, but nothing much to find there. Enetering further, we encounter a large control panel with Carbines and Volley Guns available to the left and right. I exchanged the Hand Cannon for a Volley Gun here.

As soon as we pass the panel, we come under attack by soldiers firing grenades from a distance and, soon thereafter, a Handyman. I activated an automated turret through a tear, and that kept the soldiers busy while I confronted the Handyman. As usual, seemingly direct hits on the heart from the RPG and Volley Gun didn't get a kill, but I finally hit him with the Fire vigor and, while burning, let him have it with the RPG, which did the trick. I then turned my attention to the soldiers, but apart from one shot with the RPG from a distance the turret seems to have wiped them out. I collected the gear left by the Handyman but did not equip it, as I like the one I have which improves shield duration and cuts regeneration time.

Once this battle is over, we explore a control panel on the other side of the wall from the first one and find some salts to top up and two lockpicks, bringing us back to the maximum of 30. Proceeding further into Engineering, we come under fire from two turrets, each of which are dealt with by one shot from the RPG. At the very back of the deck there's a Minuteman's Arsenal vending machine where I bought the Volley Gun Damage Boost 25% for $522 and Volley Gun Radius Increase 50% for $536. These should improve the performance of the only area-attack kinetic weapon to which we have easy access.

I'd hoped to exchange the Volley Gun back for the Hand Cannon, but again, when I went back to where I'd dropped it, it was gone. This time I'm absolutely sure about the location. There must be invisible cleaning robots that pick up weapons while you're otherwise occupied. Now it's a matter of going up to Deck 4. I hooked the sky-line at the front of Engineering but it just took me around and around within Deck 3. So, I proceeded on foot back to the other end, near the vending machine, and hooked the sky-line there, which is apparently a different one, and it took me outside and up to a platform on Deck 4. Entering the hatch from this platform takes us through checkpoint CHU_Conn where I called it a night.

We end up with $1452 and 30 lock picks, full health and salts, a full Volley Gun and short on RPG ammo. If I come across a Hand Cannon, I'll take it, but I haven't seen one so far. The use of the automated turret earned the “Strange Bedfellows” achievement, which is awarded for killing 20 or more adversaries using allies brought through tears. I have only 22 of 80 possible achievements so far (28%), and I'm certain to end the game with not many more, since many are for kills with weapons I have no interest in using or are unlikely to encounter from here on. Further, some relate to items in sequel games, not the main game being played here.


2018 August 27

Entering the deck to the top deck (Deck 4), we see a stained glass window in front of which is a model of the tower in which Elizabeth was confined. It shows a confinement chamber at the top for the “subject” (this is where we rescued her so many chapters before) with the “Siphon” machine in a large vessel below. Elizabeth remarks that as a child she was able to open tears not just to a limited number of parallel realities but also to create entirely new realities. She speculates that the purpose of the siphon was to drain away these powers from her. Only by destroying the siphon can these powers be restored.

Entering another hatch, we find Comstock standing under another stained glass panel showing Elizabeth in a heroic pose. He is standing behind a baptismal font/birdbath. As Elizabeth approaches, he begins to anoint her hand with water using a sponge. He draws attention to her finger, which appears to have been partially amputated with a thimble on it. There is a remark about Booker bearing her finger, at which time Booker's finger begins to bleed. Comstock attacks Elizabeth, and Booker intervenes, grabbing him by the throat and eventually drowning him in the font. At this moment a hatch leading further into the command deck opens.

Going up one level takes us to a floor containing Comstock's bedroom and study. The bedroom has a Voxophone from Rosalind Lutece and a collection of weapons, none of which I took (though the Sniper Rifle was tempting). The study has a Voxophone from Comstock himself and—what do you know—a Hand Cannon! I exchanged the Volley Gun (with which I find it hard to hit anything) for it. Comstock's desk contains some much welcome Hand Cannon ammo, some money (what are we going to do with it at this point?) and some food.

Climbing one more level, we arrive at a locked hatch to the bridge. The high security of Comstock's Zeppelin is evidenced by the fact that this lock can be picked with a hairpin. Arriving on the bridge, there is a large wheel at a console in the centre. (There are no other active items on the bridge). Turning it begins to make the airship move, and we can see from the front window barges arriving from all directions to attack us. Elizabeth starts to smash a statue of Comstock on the right of the bridge. As the statue crashes down, it is revealed to have a mechanism on its back like a Mechanised Patriot. Elizabeth removes a whistle which can be used to summon the Songbird.

She uses the whistle and the Songbird arrives, smashing the window at the front of the bridge, revealing the front deck. Elizabeth implores the Songbird to defend us, and the Songbird nuzzles her and caresses her with its wing, then flies away. Elizabeth jumps through the window to the front deck and, as we follow, we pass checkpoint CHU_Top.

This is the beginning of the Final Battle. As we land on the deck, we're right next to a large generator. Two new indicators appear at the top right of the screen. The topmost is a bar graph indicating the status of the generator. If this goes to zero, the battle is lost and must be refought from the start. We're informed as soon as we land that we can now direct the Songbird to attack targets by pointing at them and pressing F. But each strike tires the Songbird, who must rest before the next attack. The second control is a timer which shows how much time remains before the Songbird is ready for its next flight of destruction.

The general strategy in this battle is to use the Songbird as much as possible, destroying aerial targets before they are able to land reinforcements, while defending the generator against attacks. It is possible to use a sky-line to get to the top of the Zeppelin, which gives a view of the entire deck and contains medical kits and a Sniper Rifle for longer range work.

As soon as you step outside the bridge, the Final Battle is joined. This begins with soldiers shooting at you, then rapidly escalates as barges show up and disgorge additional troops. You should deploy the Songbird against each barge just as soon as it comes into range, otherwise it will unload even more troops and also start shooting at you with its own cannons. You can also deploy the Songbird against troops on the deck (just point at the deck and hit F), but if another barge arrives while the bird is resting, you may be in trouble.

I found it advantageous to deploy Crows, followed sometimes by Fire, against advancing troops on the deck. Since I have the Crow Trap Aid, troops killed by Crows turn into their own Crow traps which attack subsequent waves.

You can adopt a different strategy for expendables during this battle. The deck is an ammo- salt- and health-rich environment, and Elizabeth will pretty much throw you what you need as you need it, so just keep blasting away. One time I exhausted RPG ammo and had to swap to a crank gun dropped by a Patriot, but that's it.

One of the nasty tricks used by the assailants is to drop grenadiers on pylons near the bow who shoot from cover at the generator. The best way to deal with these is to use Bucking Bronco to throw them into the air and then hit them with the RPG while helpless in mid-air. You might also be able to throw them overboard with Undertow while in this state, but I did not try this.

The need to defend the generator creates an entirely new dynamic in this battle. You can still get killed and resuscitated as before, but if the generator blue bar goes to zero the entire battle is reset to the CHU_Top checkpoint as if it never happened. This is intensely irritating and frustrating after, say, the sixth or seventh time, as you lose all your progress. One advantage is that you start out with all your consumables toppped up as at the start of the first attempt.

If you're still in the game (generator running) after killing a bunch of barges, then Zeppelins will begin to show up. These can be killed with the Songbird, but usually not before they drop one or more Mechanised Patriot on the deck which will start to advance toward the generator. These can be killed the usual way by shooting in the back, but we haven't had to deal with more than one at a time in most previous encounters. Don't assume that because the Zeppelins have started to arrive that you're done with barges, however—you may still get one or more to mix things up.

Don't bother trying to shoot down the barges or Zeppelins with any of your weapons. The only thing that can kill them is the Songbird. If it's resting, you just have to hold out until it's ready.

I found that taking the sky-line to the top of the Zeppelin and finding a good firing position wasted more precious time than it was worth. I found that defending near the generator or on the deck in front of it was most effective.

There is a huge trick in defending the generator without which I'm not sure it's possible to win this battle. What you need to do is, before you charge out of the bridge into the battle, select the Return to Sender vigor (8 key). Then sprint immediately to the front of the generator and place Return to Sender traps in front of the generator (I used three). These will absorb and return incoming fire from the principal direction of the attack and allow you to concentrate on defeating the attackers without depleting the generator's health. I didn't bother placing traps on the sides or behind the generator—you get a few attacks from that direction, but not many. As the battle progresses, you need to keep an eye on the generator since the Return to Sender traps eventually wear off and must be immediately re-placed to protect the generator.

It may be possible to use Return to Sender traps to create a protected firing position to defend the generator. I did not try this.

It was in the course of this battle that I earned the “Well Rounded” achievement for having use all eight vigors in battle.

As soon as you destroy the last Vox Zeppelin, the battle will immediately end and everything will go quiet. At this point we pass the CHU_Monument milestone. Elizabeth seems to have gone missing, but you can top up salts and health from resources around the deck. (I'm not sure they'll be needed from now on, but you can't be too careful.)

We find Elizabeth standing in the bow of the Hand of the Prophet Zeppelin. She hands us the bird whistle and we call the Songbird to destroy the Siphon. As the Siphon is destroyed, everything goes white and a giant snow crash tear seems to appear. We find ourselves in a place we've never seen before and find the Songbird seemingly in an aquarium, where it apparently drowns, its eye breaking. At this point we earn the “Bird or the Cage” achievement for having completed the Hand of the Prophet.

Elizabeth leads us toward a door, and we pass checkpoint LutT_Start, the beginning of the Epilogue to the game. I'll save that for the morrow. We ended up the day, and probably the game, with $1418 and 30 lockpicks, with infusion levels all at 7, and carrying the Hand Cannon and RPG.


2018 August 28

The Epilogue chapter is titled “The Sea of Doors”. The background music is an instrumental version of “Beyond the Sea”. What appeared to be an aquarium in which we saw Songbird is actually a window with a plaque above which says “Welcome to Rapture: Opportunity Awaits”, and below it a vault door which says “Securis”—a possible airlock leading to the sea? Looking closer we see undersea buildings and a passageway between them with fronds of kelp waving in the foreground. Obviously we're in some version of the undersea settlement of the original Bioshock games (which I haven't played, but have read about).

Turning our back to the windows, to the right we see a banner which says, “The Great Chain is guided by our Hand”. There is a display case containing something I can't identify which is labeled, “RAPTURE Nov 5 1946: One man's vision, Mankind's salvation”. On the wall is a poster saying, “Pick your plasmid and evolve! The Wondrous World of Rapture”. On the wall above a staircase is another poster, “Light them up! Security Bullseye plasmids by Ryan Industries”. Pointing up the staircase is a neon “Plasmids” sign with a hand throwing thunderbolts up the stairs. The place appears to have sustained damage, with rubble and overturned chairs.

Going upstairs, there's what appears to be a derelict vending machine with a sign, “Gatherer's Garden: Genetic Modifications” with figures of girls on either side surrounded by Amanita muscaria mushrooms. From the balcony, we can look down onto the hall below, but all the doors are barred. On the other side of the balcony is a poster, “Get there in a Hurry! Teleportation, Plasmids by Ryan Industries”. In the middle of the balcony are two posters showing a flask, “Evolution in a bottle! Plasmids by Ryan Industries”.

The doorway through which Elizabeth went down the stairs has a sign above, “Rapture Metro”. We proceed through the door and down the stairs. There is more rubble and a fire burning at the bottom of the stairs.

Proceeding further, there's a discarded sign saying, “Ryan doesn't own us.” On the wall to the left, a sign, “Attention! All bathysphere travel is now DENIED.” Further on, in what must be a bathysphere bay, Elizabeth is waiting inside a bathysphere. We pull a handle to activate the bathysphere.

The bathysphere takes us through the undersea city to the surface where we see a stone monument and Elizabeth exclaims, “Thousands of doors—they're beautiful!” We leave the bathysphere and climb stone steps to the tower, where we pass checkpoint LutT_Surface. This ends up being the last checkpoint in the game.

Elizabeth tries to open a giant brass door with a hairpin and fails. Suddenly, a key appears in her hand. “Where did it come from?” “It's always been there, I just couldn't see it.” We open the door and see a sea of other towers. Elizabeth explains that each is a door to a parallel world: similar, and different. In each, a city, a lighthouse, and a man. She has glimpsed these worlds while imprisoned in the tower in Columbia. Following her along the path to the sea, the path extends as we walk. The pathway forks, and whichever way we walk it extends, We follow the straight path to a second tower.

This tower also has a door, which is unlocked. Passing through the door, we arrive on another sea, at dawn or dusk, with less impressive lighthouses and wooden platforms. On each, there is an Elizabeth and Booker. We follow the wooden path, which extends as we walk as the stone path did before. We reach another lighthouse, and going inside the boarded up door, we're in a river where a baptism is being conducted by a man (Comstock?) to cleanse the sins of Wounded Knee. Booker says he knows this place. Elizabeth says, “You've already been here”. The preacher invites Booker to take his hand, and Booker refuses. Elizabeth says, “You've already done it”. Booker takes the hand, but then, before being immersed in the river, refuses and walks away. He says to Elizabeth, “These doors are tears. Open one up. I want to be shut of all this.”

She replies, “Not until we find Comstock”, and leads the way to a small building on a hill. We open the door, and we're back in DeWitt's office, facing the man who hired him originally—Lutece!, “The girl for the debt.” Elizabeth is standing next to the side door of the office which, the last time, led to the attic of Comstock's House. This time, it's a small room with a crib and a baby. The man appears at the door, “Bring us the girl and we wipe away the debt.”

Elizabeth says she sees behind all the doors, and in every one Booker gives the baby to Lutece. Booker takes the baby and hands it to Lutece. Lutece takes it and says, “The debt is paid. Mr Comstock washes you of all your sins”, then turns and closes the door after him.

Opening the door, we find ourself back in the rowboat from the opening of the game, but this time with Elizabeth. We arrive at the lighthouse, where Elizabeth says, “Comstock is alive in a million worlds. It will only be over when he has never lived in the first place.” We follow the path to the lighthouse as before and upon entering, we're in an alley where Comstock is holding the baby and Lutece is talking to what might be a tear. Elizabeth is watching from the background. We grab Comstock.

A struggle ensues, with Booker saying, “Give me back my daughter!” Comstock jumps through the portal, which closes, chopping off the end of one of the baby's fingers. Everything goes dark.

There is the shield re-generation sound and crazy things start to happen to the screen. We have the weapon and vigor indicators back, and what looks like an Earth and Moon that move around with the mouse. It appears that everything is locked up.

After ten minutes, I gave up and restarted from the LutT_Surface checkpoint and played through again. This time, after the portal closes, we're back in DeWitt's office instead of cloud cuckoo land. Entering the side room, this time it's a larger, ruined room with Elizabeth inside. A large tear is open which, when we pass through it, we find the Luteces again, speculating that the “AD” brand on Booker's hand is penance for giving away his daughter, the baby Anna DeWitt. Then we're back in the boat again, with Elizabeth, rowing toward the lighthouse as at the beginning.

A new plan. “Go back to when he (Comstock) was born, and smother the son of a bitch in his crib.” We proceed to the lighthouse again. This time, entering the door, we're back in the river with Comstock. But this time numerous Elizabeths from parallel realities appear. If smothering Comstock is what Booker wants, then their drowning him is what must happen, as Booker and Comstock are one and the same. Booker is submerged and his vision fades to black. All of the parallel Elizabeths but Booker's companion in the adventure wink out one by one. Fade to credits.

After the credits, we find ourselves back in Booker's office. A calendar on the desk reads 1893 October 8. This time, opening the side door reveals the same small room as before, with a crib in the corner. Booker says, “Anna?”. Entering the room, before we can see inside the crib, fade to black and return to main menu. From the main menu all chapters are available for selection. There is no checkpoint at the end of the game: LutT_Surface is the last.

Here is an interpretation of the Epilogue of the game with even more massive spoilers than my narrative above and this a timeline which helps to sort out events occurring in the parallel universes. Note: despite IGN, the publisher of these pages, being part of the Ziff-Davis group, these documents contain, in the main text (not comments) unedited remarks by gamers, complete with innovative spelling and grammar and the trademark idiot “it's”.

We end the game with $1418 and 30 lockpicks. There is no need for either money or lockpicks after arriving at the Hand of the Prophet Zeppelin, so the money might have better been spent on weapons or vigor upgrades, but I don't think any of them available for that amount of money (except possibly upgrading Return to Sender to cost fewer salts) might have helped in the Final Battle. All infusion levels (Health, Shield, and Salt) were upgraded to level 7.

At the end of the game we were awarded three more achievements:

We earned a total of 27 of 80 (34%) possible achievements. Note that some of these can only be earned in sequels to the main game.


Here is a summary of game play and the state of things at the end of the game.

The gear I used through all of the latter part of the game was:

I obtained all of the vigors. Here is a list, with upgrades I purchased as the game progressed.

Here is a list of weapons and upgrades for them I purchased along the way. Vox weapons are indicated as (V).

After the disasters with Hayek on August 24 and 25, I completed the game on Ragnar in 1024×576 graphics mode and Low quality rendering. The response was still more jerky than on Hayek in 1920×1080 pixel mode with High or Medium quality, but sufficiently playable to make it through the end of the game. I would certainly not undertake a new game of comparable magnitude if constrained to that level of performance. Here it was a question of either abandoning the game in disgust after the collapse on Hayek or slogging away to the end with reduced resolution and performance.

2018 September 1

Purchased and downloaded the Season Pass of Downloadable Content. How this works is less than obvious. You buy the season pass, and it shows up in the game page, but it doesn't start to download automatically unless you force it to. It seems it normally downloads in its own sweet time, which is fine if you aren't going to travel the next day and be off-line.

By appropriate prodding, I got it to download, and an hour later it said it was installed. How to play it? You have to load the main game, where you now have a “Downloadable Content” menu item, from which you can select it.

The downloadable content also twiddles the main game save. I continued the last chapter save to make sure the download hadn't trashed it, and I got all kinds of messages telling me that things had changed because I'd bought the Season Pass.

Clash in the Clouds

Clash in the Clouds

2018 September 24

Finished the “Clash in the Clouds” shoot-em-up downloadable content mission. I ended up, after buying all of the vigor upgrades and weapon upgrades to my arsenal of choice:

with $47,263. I discovered a way of running up an almost arbitrarily large sum of money. When you're anticipating an attack by a Handyman (you're always told the adversaries to expect in each Wave), arm yourself a Crank Gun (you may have one liberated from a Patriot in an earlier wave, or find one in a tear while fighting the Wave). Keep one Handyman killer such as an RPG: the Crank Gun does no damage to a Handyman in my experience. Now, when the Handyman closes in, weaken him with Undertow, stun him with Shock Jockey, and then let him have it with with the full supply of Crank Gun ammo. You should be able to get lots of heart shots, each of which credits you with $60, even though they don't do any measurable damage. You'll eventually run out of ammo and probably be killed before you can switch to the RPG or Hand Cannon and get in more shots, but when you're resurrected, you'll start with a full load of Crank Gun ammo and you can do it again. (And of course, you keep the cash you earned across resurrection.) Lather, rinse, and repeat until you've run the cash balance up as high as you wish. Then, when you finish the Wave, go back and load up on weapons and vigor upgrades and, while playing the final arena, run up a huge balance so you can unlock everything in the museum when you're done. (Hey, you may say this isn't fair, but then neither is getting killed in the first second of a Wave when you didn't have any chance to see whence the fire was coming.)

When you arrive back in the museum, the Mechanised Patriot gives you a historical spiel. If you walk away, say, to record your score in the book at the ticket office or check out the vending machines and return, you'll hear a different spiel.

My ranking on the leader boards was as follows:

Arena Score Rank Ribbons
The Ops Zeal 1545 185744 0
Duke and Dimwit Theatre   1549 80928 0
Raven's Dome 2661 67650 0
Emporia Arcade 3060 47430 1
Global 8815 85756 1

OK, news flash, I'm still a lame-o gamer!

When you finally return to the museum after finishing all four arenas, there will be a tear for a water spill. If you open it a monster will attack and kill you. You pop right back to the game main menu, with anything you unlocked in the museum previously forgotten (but, your original cash balance before the unlocks will be restored). Don't unlock this tear unless you need it (see below).

Go around the museum unlocking kinetoscopes, phonographs, pictures, and models of characters. Some of the kinetoscopes show development of the game and are interesting. Once you've unlocked the models of both of the Luteces, a tear at the back of the museum will be available which takes you to Lutece Labs where there are six more voxophones to discover, which provide back-story to the main game.

Once you've unlocked everything in the museum, be sure to record your progress in the book on the way back to the entry hall of the museum. If you've won any blue ribbons (I won one, count it, one!), they'll be displayed under the portals to the arenas.

I had more than enough cash to unlock everything in the museum several times over, so I didn't try this, but if you end up with limited funds, you should be able to unlock a few things and then trigger the water puddle tear, go back to the main menu, navigate back, and proceed, your balance restored, to unlock a few more.


Burial at Sea: Episode 1

Burial at Sea: Episode 1

2018 October 6

Started the downloadable content adventure “Burial at Sea, Episode 1”. Unlike the main game, I'm going to play this “cold”—without any prior research into the scenario or guidance from a walk-through.

We start, once again, in Booker's office, but this time the desktop calendar informs us it's December 31st, 1958. Elizabeth shows up as a client. There's no indication Booker knows her. She wants to hire him to find a missing girl, “Sally”. After some back and forth, he agrees to take the case.

As soon as you leave Booker's office, you pass checkpoint RAP_BookersOffice. It's immediately clear we're in “Rapture”, the city in which the original Bioshock games are set. But at this time, the city is still functional, with Ryan just having taken over from Fontaine.

Elizabeth will lead you to an elevator to the large mall. When you press the button in the elevator, you reach checkpoint RAP_TookElevator.

After exploring everything in the mall, listening to all the conversations in progress, playing the two audio logs I found and the two Need to Know players, I approached Cohen's and passed the RAP_ArrivedCohens checkpoint. This milestone doesn't require you to do anything like opening a door or pressing a button—you need only cross the threshold.

2018 October 14

Resumed at the entrance to Cohen's. After knocking on the door, we're told you need a mask to enter and that masks have been sent only to businesses and artists. Gumshoes don't qualify as businesses, we're told. We set off to search three businesses we visited earlier: the music store, jewelry shop, and art gallery. Elizabeth turns out to be an excellent grifter, talking up the proprietors while we sneak in the back and look around. In the jewelry store, she accuses the shopkeeper of selling stolen goods and knocks him out. The first two shops come up empty for the mask, although we find some money. In the back room of the art gallery, we find the mask in a Cohen's box. Taking the mask passes checkpoint RAP_GotMask and gives us a new objective of Return to Cohen's. Booker asks Elizabeth what's her “line”. She says, “Debt collector.”

After closing the game, Steam said it had downloaded an update and requested a restart to install it. I went ahead and restarted, which appeared to go normally.

Copied the save directory:
from Ragnar back to Hayek.

When I started Steam, it reported a client update available (199 Mb), which I downloaded and installed.

When I launched the game, it showed downloadable content not installed. When I went back to the Steam Library, it showed all of the content purchased, and a download in progress, showing “Updating”. I decided to let that run to completion to see what would happen.

After the download completed, the downloadable content was available and the game started at the last checkpoint. Went to the entrance to Cohen's, knocked on the door, and passed checkpoint RAP_GotIntoTheClub. About a minute later, walking downstairs into the club, everything froze again. So much for Hayek: whatever was killing it before it still is. Back to Ragnar.

On Ragnar, re-entered Cohen's, explored his den, and spoke to him. He commanded Booker and Elizabeth dance, and then zapped them. When they woke up, they were on an undersea pod taking them to Fontaine's department store on the ocean floor, where many are said to be imprisoned, including Sally. After arriving, exiting the pod, Booker is armed with what looks like a Hand Cannon from the main game. This passes checkpoint DEPT_MAIN_Arrived. We have funds of $83, zero lockpicks (I'm not sure they're used here, but are shown in the paused display).

Continued into Fontaine's station, where everything becomes very Bioshock Infinite familiar. Now we have Vigors (called Plasmids) (Possession and Fire to start), Salt (Eve), and lots of things to search to find money, ammo, health, and Eve. We have a shield and health as before, and a Plasmid panel and Eve status bar. We find an Air Grabber, which is like the skyhook in Columbia. When we acquire it, we pass the DEPT_MAIN_AirGrabber checkpoint.

The Air Grabber becomes immediately handy when we use it to vault an entrance to the department store via a freight hook. This is when we encounter our first opposition. I wasted a couple of shots of the Hand Cannon (I have only four rounds) trying to hit them from too far away, then executed an Air Strike to take down one and then wounded the other with a Mêlée attack and finished him off with the last round from the Hand Cannon. This brings us to the DEPT_MAIN_Elevator checkpoint, where we're about to push a button and go somewhere else. At least so far, the checkpoints are more reasonably spaced here than in the main game.

All right, let's see where this elevator goes. Taking it up, Booker tells Elizabeth he came to Rapture in '49 and warns her to keep an eye out for splicers. I'm sure we'll find out what that means before long.

2018 October 15

When the elevator arrives at the next floor, we pass checkpoint DEPT_MAIN_Atrium. It seems as if depending on how you get here, you may be trapped in the Atrium, unable to proceed into the Men's Furnishings department because it says “Elizabeth Busy—Cannot Pick Lock” even through Elizabeth is right there and not apparently occupied with anything. After trying lots of things, I went back and restarted at the arrival at Fontaine's chapter. This time I made sure to deal with the splicers from the freight hook by an air strike and mêlée, conserving ammo. I searched all the corpses before entering the elevator.

This time, upon arrival at the Atrium, I used the crouch and sneak up approach to attack the splicer feeding the rats, then also mêlée attacked the other splicer, searching the corpse. This time, when I went to the locked door, it said I could ask Elizabeth to pick it. I have no idea what causes the “Busy” problem, but conserving ammo seems to have helped. I searched the area for resources and bought Hand Cannon ammo from the vending machine.

Tommy Gun Now, proceeding into the Men's Furnishing department after picking the lock, we find more splicers to deal with, resources including a Tommy Gun and ammo, and encounter some Turrets (automated guns) on revolving office chairs. You can Possess the turrets, which keeps them from firing at you for quite a while, but you can't seem to kill them with either the Hand Cannon or Tommy Gun. However, the Fire plasmid works very well. Setting a Fire Trap is also an excellent way to deal with groups of splicers. Somewhere in this process we pass the DEPT_MAIN_AtriumQuest checkpoint, but I don't recall precisely where.

After exploring the first level of the store, we enter an airlock to the Home Delivery elevator. Inside, there's a room with more frozen people and another airlock. Operating it makes it seemingly spin forever. I went back to the first airlock door and operated it, which made it start spinning. Finally, I went back to the second and operated it again, whereupon it opened onto the second floor of the department store and we crossed the DEPT_MAIN_2F checkpoint.

Arriving on the second level of the Atrium, we encounter a few more splicers, then begin to explore, being attacked sporadically by additional splicers. In the Jewelry department, there is a storeroom which requires three lockpicks, which we do not yet have. The Womens' Wear department is large, and as we explore (including areas accessible only via freight hooks), we find lockpicks bringing the total up to four. I also discover that you can make a sky strike against a turret, which worked at least the one time I tried it. Don't forget to check destroyed turrets for ammo—this one yielded 15 rounds for the Tommy Gun.

In the Shoe department, there's a locked storeroom which requires a four digit code. You can see gear through the frosted door.

After exploring everywhere and collecting goodies, I returned to the Jewelry department and used three lockpicks to open the storeroom. There are plenty of valuable things there, plus an audio log which gives the code for storeroom in the Shoe department. Fighting our way back there, we encounter an Infusion which wasn't there the first time. I used it to increase shield capacity. Arriving at the storeroom, we have to dodge a turret (the geometry of this one lets you get past it before it detects and engages you), and collect gear, goodies, and another audio log. Along the way, we've found lockpicks to get our total back up to 3.

Finally, we return to the entrance to the second level and hook the Pneumo line to go to the third level. Upon landing, we're immediately attacked by two splicers which take some effort to subdue. After they've been dispatched, we pass checkpoint DEPT_MAIN_3F where I decided to call it a day.

We had a balance of $125 or so at the high point on level 2, but all our money got used up in repeated resurrections trying to suppress resistance in the last pass through level 2 and arrival at level 3. We have 3 lockpicks, 1 Hand Cannon round, and 23 Tommy Gun rounds. Health is around 50% and Eve is just about zeroed out. Let's hope there are resources to find on the third floor before we encounter more opposition.

2018 October 16

Resuming on the third floor, visited Fontaine's Plasmids, which had a sign next to the door featuring Shock Jockey; let's hope it's in there. The door is opened by a hairpin pick and lets us in to the area. We have to deal with two splicers, and then we find the Shock Jockey plasmid in a room to the side. There is Eve to be had, both a flask, some coffee, and by looting a corpse. Downstairs there's a safe which requires all of our three lockpicks. Inside, there's an infusion which I used to increase maximum health (it also sets health to max) and an audio log which tells of a mix-up between ice and dry ice at a celebration. Picking up Shock Jockey passes checkpoint DEPT_MAIN_ShockJockey.

Next, we explore the ice rink, which requires opening an airlock to enter. Inside, there's another airlock to a room containing some supplies, gear, and a safe which requires one lockpick. Then we enter the rink proper and find a lockpick, return to the safe, open it, and collect the contents.

Old Man Winter plasmid Returning to the rink, there are a number of splicers to defeat plus a frost monster (icy splicer). In a side room we collect the Carbine. After defeating the attackers, proceed to the display case which Elizabeth opens, only to find it's empty. She opens a tear (first time this has happened), explaining her ability as a “plasmid”, and we finally acquire the Old Man Winter (Frost) plasmid. This passes checkpoint DEPT_MAIN_IceRink.

After searching every nook and cranny of the rink, finding quite a bit of sorely-needed ammo, we exit through the airlock and find more splicers to deal with. There is a Samurai available through a tear, which Elizabeth opens, and he joins the battle on our side. After subduing the splicers (one more resurrection, wiping out our cash balance again), we look around, finding some health and Eve, and finally take the Pneumo back down to the second floor, at which point we pass checkpoint DEPT_MAIN_ReturnedTo2F, where I set things aside.

We end up with no money or lockpicks, health around 50%, Eve around 30%, the Carbine with 43 rounds, Hand Cannon with 1 round, and the Tommy Gun with 70 rounds. (Unlike the main game, you can carry any number of weapons at once and switch among them by holding down E.)

2018 October 17

After arriving back on the second floor, we were unable to repair the lift back to the first floor with the Shock Jockey plasmid because we'd used up too much Eve in earlier combat. I remembered that we'd seen a flask of Eve back in Jack Frost's Village on the third floor and bypassed it because we were at max Eve at the time. I used the air grabber to go back to the third floor, entered the village, bypassed some splicers in the skate rental area, and found the flask. I also encountered some trash cans which had refilled themselves and managed to find $11, turning our cash balance up to—eleven. I was then able to return to the second floor and repair the lift with no problems. After using Shock Jockey on the lift, Eve is now around 50%.

Before returning to the first floor, decided to search the Ladies' Wear department to see if anything had regenerated. A Samurai had appeared, so I released him, and he helped deal with two splicers who had shown up. I dispatched them with the Tommy Gun and mêlée, conserving Eve. There were a number of boxes with money and ammo in the various departments, and I walked out with $68, 45 rounds for the Tommy Gun, 5 for the Hand Cannon, and 43 for the Carbine. Health is still around 33%. I didn't find any Eve or lockpicks.

Taking the lift to the first floor, on arrival we pass checkpoint DEPT_MAIN_ReturnToIceBridge. A tear has appeared giving access to a Pneumo which contains two flasks of Eve which allow topping up Eve to 100%. This should be a big help in making the ice bridges we'll be needing soon.

Went back into Pret à Porter and used the Freeze plasmid to make an ice bridge to the back part of the shop. This is defended by a turret which can be distracted by summoning a Decoy through a tear. We're attacked by two splicers to the left. After dealing with them, we can summon a Samurai to help out if any more appear. Searching the shop, we find the Shotgun and some ammo and an Infusion which I used to increase Eve capacity; this also brings Eve back up to 100%. I decided to try out the Shotgun on the turret—it made quick work of it, but searching the turret yielded nothing, and there were no goodies behind it in the area it seemed to be guarding. There are two new vending machines we haven't seen before: a Gene Bank and Bandito's Armory. The former is too rich for our budget, but the latter sells ammo and weapons, and I bought Hand Cannon and Shotgun ammo.

After searching Pret à Porter, returned to the main atrium where the Pneumo tear had delivered up another flask of Eve; it's the gift that keeps on giving. We're full up for now, however, but it's nice to know it's there.

Returned to search Menswear, which was, of course, infested with Splicers. Found money, some ammo, and a lockpick.

The lockpick allowed opening the door to the Daily Bread. Inside, along with splicers and a turret to deal with (once again, the Shotgun did the trick), there was gear, money, an Infusion which I used to increase Health, and another lockpick.

Finally, after completing the search of Menswear, which yielded another Infusion and Gear (improve mêlée), I went back, topped up Eve from the Pneumo, and spent some of my cash on ammo.

Now it's off to the Tram. I used the Freeze plasmid to open an ice bridge to the platform with the piano. Crossing it, I found some money including a small gold bar in the tip briefcase next to the piano. Just thinking “You can't be too careful”, I went back across the Bi-frosty bridge to the tear Pneumo, got another flask of Eve, and topped back up to 100%, restoring what I'd used to open the ice bridge. Proceeding further, we enter Pavilion Station.

In Pavilion Station, there is a lot of money, new Gear (mêlée kills increase Health), and a lockpick. I'm almost tempted to go back to the vending machine and upgrade one of the plasmids before I lose the cash in a resurrection, but I decided to carry on.

Entering the Tram car and pulling the lever, we leave the area headed for Housewares. This passes checkpoint DEPT_MAIN_ReachedTheTram. There's a nice animation of the airlock filling then the Tram car proceeding through the sea to the airlock on Housewares. During the trip, there's an animation of Booker explaining to Elizabeth that he gambled away Sally after taking her somewhere she shouldn't have been. Elizabeth, asked her interest in Sally, says she has her reasons for reuniting Booker and Sally. When we arrive at the Housewares airlock, it seems resistance is waiting for us, and we pass checkpoint DEPT_STOREA_Arrived. The tram ride earns us the “Going Places” achievement. I decided that's enough for today.

We end up with $175, 2 lockpicks, full Health and Eve, and the weapons mostly topped up: Hand Cannon 12, Tommy Gun 49, Shotgun 8, and Carbine 45.

2018 October 18

Leaving the tram car, we enter the Housewares section. We are immediately attacked by splicers. After pacifying the area, we search for resources. Elizabeth finds an air vent and says that we can force Sally out of the area where she's being held by closing all four vents in various areas of the store, which will raise the heat and cause her (or those who are holding her—not sure) to leave. This sets us on a quest to close all four vents.

First, we go the Electronics department where there are, of course, more splicers. After dealing with them, we find assorted resources along with an Audio Log that gives us the door code for a walk-in freezer in the Bistro (which we haven't yet visited). There's a vent in the Electronics section, but I leave it open for now. When we reach the vent, we pass checkpoint DEPT_STOREA_YJunct.

Radar range Proceeding to the Bistro, we must deal with opposition and, after that's done, we find the freeze locker in the bottom floor, use the code, and inside find the Radar Range weapon and ammo for it. This works by aiming at an enemy and holding down the mouse button to cook him. The big advantage of this seems to be that it has a very large number of shots compared to the kinetic weapons. I tried it, and it seems to work just fine, but doesn't leave corpses around to search. Sometimes, however, a box appears where the splicer was dispatched. Once again, we get a save with the same checkpoint name, DEPT_STOREA_YJunct, but a different time.

Next, we enter an airlock toward the Returns department. There's another vent here, but before closing it there are enemies to confront, including a turret which the Shotgun makes quick work of. Then we search for resources and find a safe which requires three lockpicks but contains a gold bar and additional money. Finally, we close the vent in the room behind the Returns desk and, in the same room, find an Audio Log which suggests visions of Columbia from the main game. Closing the vent gives us another checkpoint DEPT_STOREA_YJunct.

At this point, our objectives say we have two more vents to close: one in Books and another in Appliances. I'll leave those for another day. At this point we have $212 (I'll be looking to spend some of that before it gets burned in resurrections), 2 lockpicks, 75% health, 60% Eve, and adequate ammo all around, including 476 rounds for the Radar Range.

2018 October 19

We resume at the vent behind the Returns desk. Going back toward the Toys department, where we killed the Turret yesterday, there's a door which opens with one lockpick. This leads to the Bridal department, where there's one female splicer on which the old crouch, sneak, and mêlée trick works. We quickly find Gear: a new hat which makes bullets have a 50% chance of doing Plasmid damage. While searching, we hear other voices as if splicers were around, but I haven't encountered them yet. We also find an Audio Log talking about a Mother's Little Helper Plasmid which probably ended poorly.

Leaving Bridal, we're attacked by a splicer and an Icy Splicer who manages to kill us purely due to slow screen refresh time—it fell to around one frame per second during the combat sequence, which didn't keep the enemy from throwing ice bolts. I finally got him with the Shotgun and reclaimed a lockpick from the corpse.

Enter the Bookstore (no lock), and we're attacked by a bunch of splicers (mêlée kills) and an Icy Splicer. Once again, I lose a life to refresh time before getting him with the Shock plus Shotgun. The corpse yields a lockpick, bringing us up to 3. On the second floor, there's a Samurai, who we release to no great effect on the Icy Splicer, but I'll keep him around just in case. Searching the Bookstore, there's a big promotion going on for “Don't Let the Bastards See you Sweat” by Frank Fontaine.

The Bookstore, unlike those I frequent, has sections on Parasitism and Self-Optimization. Perhaps related, there's a tear which provides medical kits nearby. I top up Health. There's a Freight Hook in the Bookstore. I can't see anywhere to which it provides access that you can't get by walking.

Finally, I close the vent on the top floor of the Bookstore. Elizabeth says, “There should be one more”, and we pass checkpoint DEPT_STOREA_YJunct (again).

At the moment we leave the Bookstore, we encounter the final vent. Booker calls to Sally, and Elizabeth says we need to close the vent and proceed to the Central Exhaust in the Toys department. Oh, I see now—the leftmost door from the Bookstore (as you stand with checkout behind you) opens into the Appliance department, which is behind a locked gate from the main plaza.

There was a Circus of Values vending machine, where I topped up Shotgun ammo (I was out before) and Radar Range. Now we enter the Showroom, whence we've heard splicer voices. This takes a hairpin lock to enter. As we enter, we pass checkpoint DEPT_STOREA_R2_PreCombat.

The Showroom is defended by a whole lot of splicers. I got killed twice trying to subdue them, almost wiping out my cash balance (down to $61). After silencing the opposition, I found a tear with Medical Kits and a flask of Eve which brought up those resources to comfortable levels. After you've dealt with the splicers in the Showroom, you pass checkpoint DEPT_STOREA_R2_Wave1. Hmmmm…I'll bet this implies we've yet to encounter Wave2!

How tacky: the Showroom has a female mannequin holding a vacuum cleaner wrapped with a gift bow. There's another woman mannequin with her head in a gas oven. I'll bet she was dealing with the slow frame rate before she decided to end it all.

After searching the Showroom, we come to a door at the back which, when we try to open it, Booker mutters “Locked from the other side”. Elizabeth says “Look”. Looking around, what should we espy with our little eye but a Pneumo. Let's give it a try.

Well, not so fast…. We get a hint that we can boost Elizabeth through a vent into the room. Finally, we figure out where the vent is, and are allowed to boost her. She appears in the room but appears to have trouble opening the door. This passes checkpoint DEPT_STOREA_R2_LizTrapped. Meanwhile, we're attacked by splicers and multiple Icy Splicers and have to fight them off, collecting the usual lockpick for each Icy Splicer we kill. We learn that the Fire plasmid works particularly well on Icy Splicers. This battle and the resurrections just about wipes out our cash and Eve but, hey, we have 6 lockpicks!

Now we're able to enter the Staff Only room into which we boosted Elizabeth. We immediately find another lockpick. There's some Eve here, and Carbine ammo which, when we take it, triggers another flashback to gunshots. As we begin to explore the area, we pass a checkpoint DEPT_STOREA_BigDaddy. I'll call it a night here, although there's plenty more to explore in Staff Only. The whole area is so wet and poorly lit you often see pop-ups to explore things you haven't seen.

We end up with (after many resurrections) $15, 7 lockpicks, 50% Health, 75% Eve, and ammo as follows: Hand Cannon 3, Tommy Gun 70, Shotgun 8, Carbine 20, and Radar Range 600. It looks like this direction will lead us to the Toys department, but we have more exploration to do in Staff Only, including what looks like an Ice Bridge to make the next time.

The combination of losing cash for resurrections along with no penalty for resurrection with no cash balance creates a perverse incentive to spend whatever cash you have whenever you encounter a vending machine, since you're likely to forfeit it in the next combat. Now, I agree, turning getting killed with no cash balance to pay for resurrection into a “Game Over” event (or even reset to the start of the chapter or last checkpoint) would be poor gameplay for such an epic adventure (except in an explicit 199x super-geek mode), but perhaps there could be some penalty such as getting a more limited reset of Health or ammo on resurrection if you couldn't pay for it. This would, of course, take thorough gameplay testing, so I'm just speculating on its impact here as a lame-o gamer who is glad he can run the cash balance down near zero with no consequences.

2018 October 20

We resume near the entrance to the Toys department, but turn around to complete the exploration of Staff Only. Found a number of goodies. Opened up the Ice Bridge to the side part of Staff Only and only then noticed there was a floor beneath the bridge accessible by a stairway to the left. Searched it and collected money and Eve. There is something that looks like a Turret down there but it appears to be unarmed and doesn't disturb us.

Back to the Ice Bridge, we cross it into the side area. In a room to the back, we find a lockpick and observe a man and woman who have been hanged. “Turncoats” is scrawled on the wall in red. There is an unlocked office to the side where we find an audio log and new Gear which causes breaking of the shield to increase speed and damage and reload the current weapon.

Re-crossing the Ice Bridge to proceed on to Toys, I spot some money to the left side of the bridge which I missed before when searching the downstairs. I go back down the stairs and, working blind because it is almost completely dark, finally stumble onto and collect the money. There are also two cases near the money, but both turn out to be empty.

We explore Toys and encounter no immediate opposition. We find some Health Kits and Eve, and some ammo that we don't presently need. Finally, we come upon the Thermostat and turn it up to the max. This passes checkpoint DEPT_STOREA_BigDaddy3.

We hear Sally crying for help, but she cannot escape the nearby vent. We proceed to another open vent and spot Sally trying to escape. When we try to save her, we are attacked by a Big Daddy, which throws an auger in our direction. This thing is really hard to kill! I get killed several times, as usual, wiping out all my money, and keep using weapons to little or no effect. I finally manage to kill it with the help of a Motorised Patriot summoned from a Tear, and simultaneously letting it have it with the Tommy Gun after running out of shotgun ammo. At this point we pass checkpoint DEPT_STOREA_BigDaddy4 and our objective becomes “Rescue Sally”, who we can hear sobbing.

I defer the rescue to return to the lower levels to replenish Health and Eve (I was also looking for ammo, but didn't find any and wasn't willing to backtrack further looking for it). With hindsight, this was a waste of time, but I didn't know what was coming.

Returning to the vent to rescue Sally, we discover, as we guessed in an earlier glimpse, that she has been turned into a Little Sister. She resists rescue, and Booker has a series of flashbacks which recall the main game, where he lost Anna through a tear. There are tie-ins galore to the main game, including an appearance by the Luteces. All of this is an animation in which the player has no input. There is a shocking cliff-hanger conclusion which I will not describe (see the plot synopsis linked below for the details). I didn't figure out everything from one viewing of the conclusion, but I'm glad I didn't know what was coming before experiencing it. Note that you can replay the ending simply by selecting Downloadable Content, Burial at Sea Episode 1, then Continue from the main game menu.

Thus concludes Episode 1 of Burial at Sea. There is no checkpoint at the end of the episode. If you wish to review the ending, you can resume from DEPT_STOREA_BigDaddy4. Completing the episode wins the “Burial at Sea” achievement.

Although I'm intrigued by what awaits in Episode 2, I'm feeling kind of Bioshocked out at the moment, as I was after the conclusion of the main game, and probably won't return to it for a while.

Here is a review of “Burial at Sea Episode 1”, chock full of spoilers.

This is a plot synopsis, with an explanation of the enigmatic ending and how it ties into the plot and timeline of the main game.

The following video is a plausible explanation for “Burial at Sea Episode 1” and how it connects to the events in the original game. There are major spoilers for both therein.

Burial at Sea: Episode 2

Burial at Sea: Episode 2

2018 November 12

Started “Burial at Sea: Episode Two”.  We find ourselves in Paris and quickly discover we're playing Elizabeth this time.  It is a happy place, consistent with 1912 in the main game.  Everybody greets us as we explore, entirely in French (but as it's just greetings, this is no problem to non-francophones).  After checking out the beautifully rendered neighbourhood, we go down stairs toward the Seine and see a young girl playing with a red balloon.  As we approach her, it's clear that this is Sally.  We experience a series of flash-backs, and everything turns dark (you knew that was going to happen, didn't you?).  We chase Sally through the streets, encountering a trans-orbital lobotomy shop (eeeeew!) and finally enter Booker's office where everything gets weird.

We're back in Rapture, and relive the final scene of Episode One.  Elizabeth seems to be talking to a not-Booker, or something.  There's a fade to black as we pass checkpoint Rap_ToyStore.

2018 November 14

Resumed in the Toy Department, where we were before in the last episode, but now it's totally in ruins.  Elizabeth has her pinky back.  After navigating through it (finding nothing), we get on a boat with the Luteces (them again!) and with typically enigmatic conversation they take us to a dock where, after stepping off the boat and walking up the stairs, the game crashes, having saved none of our progress.

After dealing with my disgust at this, I make a speed-run through the Toy Department and this time it doesn't crash and we arrive at an elevator which takes us several levels down and passes checkpoint Rap_PostTearFlashback where I set it aside for now. We hear splicers, but still don't have a weapon.  This should be interesting.

2018 November 15

Well, everything is crap.  Proceeded through the Toy Department after leaving the elevator and passed checkpoint Rap_CarpetCorridor. Then defeated several splicers, got the first Health, Lockpick, and Money and blooie! crashed back to the desktop, losing everything.  This is unplayable.  I may try it on Ragnar to see if it works better there, or simply abandon it as a waste of time and money.

2018 November 17

Crossbow Transferred the save directory back from Hayek to Ragnar and resumed from the Rap_CarpetCorridor checkpoint, which was the last before the crash.  Defeated the splicers again, eventually entering the Ryan the Lion Daycare centre where, after further combat, we obtain the Crossbow, tranquiliser ammo, Hand Cannon and ammo, and some Shotgun ammo (but we haven't yet found the Shotgun).  As we acquire the Crossbow, we pass the Rap_PostCrossbow checkpoint.  We learn that the vents are worth exploring: you may find goodies in them, and they provide a means of navigation among rooms. Medical kit Medical Kits appear to work differently than in earlier games: you can acquire them and keep them in reserve to use when you need them with the Q key.  After searching the day care without opposition, reached the entrance to the Silver Fin restaurant where we pass the Rap_ExitDaycare checkpoint.  I decided that was enough for today.  We end up armed with the Crossbow and 2 tranquiliser darts and the Hand Cannon with 5 rounds.  We have 2 Shotgun rounds but no Shotgun.  Money is at $25 (we haven't yet encountered anywhere to spend it) and we've acquired and immediately used one lockpick, leaving us with none.  Lock picking is more complicated than in earlier games, with three kinds of tumblers which either open the lock silently, make a noise, or sound an alarm.  The first lock was easy to open silently.

2018 November 18

Picked up at the entrance to the Silver Fin restaurant, still on the trail of Suchong.  We encounter our first Need to Know Theatre and Circus of Values vending machine.  I bought a lockpick, depleting much of our modest cash balance.

Peeping Tom plasmid Exploring the Cupid's Arrow XXX bookstore, we find more lockpicks and acquire the Peeping Tom plasmid, at which point we pass the RAP_GotPeepingTom checkpoint.  Peeping Tom allows us to see enemies through walls and temporarily become invisible and silent. This comes in handy, as we're immediately afflicted by a bunch of Splicers.  The Hand Cannon appears to be singularly ineffective compared to the previous games, although perhaps that's because it hasn't yet been upgraded.  After collecting what's available in the bookstore, we pass back to the main area and proceed to the elevator to the Silver Fin.  Opening the lock there we find a blue tumbler, which equips us with a noisemaker which can be used to distract enemies.  Opening the door of the elevator passes checkpoint Rap_ExitDaycare (again—who said this was consistent?).  I decided to call it quits here.

We end up with $25, 4 lockpicks, 5 rounds of Hand Cannon ammo, 2 Shotgun rounds (but still no Shotgun), 2 rounds of Crossbow tranquiliser, and 1 noisemaker.

2018 November 19

Passing through the door whose lock gave us the noisemaker, we get unsolicited advice to use it to distract the three splicers we'll confront there.  Don't believe it!  It's better to use Peeping Tom to sneak up on them and dispatch them with the Crossbow and Hand Cannon.  Searching the area restores Crossbow ammo.  Next, we go into another elevator (or bathyscape—I'm not sure) and when we arrive at the destination we pass checkpoint Rap_BathyEntry.

We next encounter a dude playing a guitar and singing a song about Atlas.  He's an Atlas follower who doesn't attack us or even pay attention, but just keeps on singing.  Next to him we acquire the Possession plasmid.  That should come in handy.  Next we approach a door to “Bathyscapes Deluxe”, behind which we can hear more Splicers—I hate those guys!

Well, I am completely disgusted.  The save and recovery mode in this game is completely different than the main game and Episode 1 and is total betrayal of the gameplay model of Bioshock Infinite.  Now, every time you get killed you're set all the way back to the previous checkpoint, and you lose everything you've acquired since it.  For long and complicated segments such as Bathyscapes Deluxe, this is intensely frustrating.  Maybe gamers who have nothing better to do can put up with doing the same things five, six, seven times in a row just because they got killed due to a slow frame refresh rate, but not me.  I am unlikely to return to this in the near future, if ever, and shall not document what I've discovered so far since I shall have to do it all over from the top.  Perhaps somebody in Rapture created a user experience designer from Hell by some horrid splicing together of people from Microsoft and WordPress and turned it loose on what was, in earlier episodes, an eminently playable game.

2018 November 20

Switched to Easy mode.  This is just too frustrating in standard mode.  In Easy mode, completed the exploration of Bathyscapes Deluxe and its side rooms, passing checkpoints RAP_VIPLOUNGE and Rap_TestDrive on the way.  Acquired the Shotgun and Crossbow Knockout Gas, which works fine on groups of Splicers.  Upgraded the Possession plasmid to knock out adversaries at the end of Possession.  Ended up with $86 and 4 lockpicks.  After travelling through a maze of twisty vents, all different, arrived at the Silver Fin, where we reach checkpoint Rap_SuchongLab.

Remember that when you leave a vent, you will be in a crouch and consequently move more slowly until you explicitly stand up with the C key.  Also, unlike earlier games, you can keep Medical Kits in inventory: the number you have is shown at the left of the Health bar.  Use the G key to apply a medical kit to restore Health.

2018 November 21

Still in Easy mode, began to explore the Silver Fin and discovered a broken Lutece machine on the top floor, showing a narrow tear which appears to look into Columbia.  At this point we pass checkpoint Rap_SuchongLab1. After solving a coded door, we discover the blueprints of the machine which, decoded according to a Cæsar cipher involving the chemical elements, says that we must find a cathode ray tube, a CO₂ scrubber, and the Old Man Winter plasmid to reject heat.  Obtaining the schematics passes checkpoint Rap_SuchongLab2.

Now we embark on a quest to obtain the three items.  Returning back to Bathyscapes Deluxe, we are able to remove the CRT from a vending machine, checking off the first and passing checkpoint Rap_GotVacuumTube.

Next we proceed to the maintenace bay where we take an elevator to the lower level, passing checkpoint RAP_REPAIRSELEVATOR1. Now we must figure out how to lower the required bathysphere from its position near the ceiling to the floor of the bay. This involves some much-contested searching until finally we discover the lever that lowers it.  Along the way, we come across an upgrade to the Possession plasmid which allows us to permanently possess Turrets.  Obtaining the CO₂ scrubber from the lowered bathysphere passes checkpoint Rap_GotPump. Finally, taking the elevator back up to the main level passes another RAP_REPAIRSELEVATOR1 checkpoint.

Making our way back to the Silver Fin, we go back to the floor with the Lutece machine, insert the CRT and CO₂ scrubber, and use Old Man Winter to chill out the overheating coils at the top.  This passes checkpoint Rap_RepairedMachine and the machine can now be activated with a lever at the front.  But before doing so, we look around for some Eve which was bypassed the last time because we were full.  This allows replenishing the Eve expended on chilling the machine with Old Man Winter.  We also find the Old Man Winter upgrade option that was bypassed before because we hadn't yet obtained the plasmid.  This upgrade causes the plasmid to spread out for attacking multiple targets.  Finally, we return and activate the machine which seemingly deposits us in Columbia on, if I had to guess, the First Lady's Airship at the moment Elizabeth is in the First Lady's cabin.  This passes checkpoint Col_Start.

That's enough for today.  We end up with $105 (possessing vending machines and looting their cash box is very lucrative!), and six lockpicks.  Eve is topped up, and Health is around 60% but we have four Medical Kits in inventory which can restore Health.  We now have the Peeping Tom (upgraded to use no Eve as long as standing still), Possession (upgraded to possess turrets forever and knock out possessed enemies after possession wears off), and Old Man Winter (upgraded to the area effect which freezes multiple enemies) plasmids. Weapons are the Hand Cannon, Shotgun, Radar Range, and the Crossbow with Tranquiliser, Knockout Gas, and Noisemaker darts.  We presently have the following Achievements: “Twofer” (knocked out multiple enemies with one gas bolt), “Making Some Noise” (obtained five noisemakers by lockpicking), and “Up and Running” (repairing the Lutece machine).

2018 November 22

On the First Lady's Airship, we take the lift up to the top level and, not wanting to crash the Airship, take the spare Quantum Particle it uses to remain airborne (recall that in the original game the airship remained functional after these events occurring in the back room).  This passes checkpoint Col_Particle.  We take the lift back to the control room level.  We can't enter the control room of the airship, which would disturb the narrative of the original game, so we use the tear to return to Rapture.  The tear doesn't work, because Suchong wants a lock of hair from Fink's factory.  So we're off to an adventure in Columbia.  The door to the control gondola now opens.  This is apparently before Elizabeth and Booker arrive in the original game.  At this point we pass checkpoint Col_NeedImprinting.

Ironsides plasmid In the gondola, we acquire the Ironsides plasmid (or is it a vigor here?), which catches incoming bullets (from shields deployed by right-mouse) and places them into our guns.  Now we trace our way back to Fink's Lab  This time we can't open the door back to the airship dock, but have to use a vent (which I can swear wasn't there the last time we passed this way).

As we pass through the docks, we pass checkpoints Col_Docks, Col_DockCombatComplete, and Col_OfficeCombatComplete as we defeat opposition in the various venues.  Here, everything is as we've come to expect in Columbia, except that only the Dollar Bill vending machines work (they can still be Possessed).

Going deeper into Fink's Labs, we need to find a clock key to reset the master clock which opens access to the various  rooms.  After figuring out where the clock is and where to apply the key (it's in the centre of the room, and you place the key in the middle of the shaft driving the hands), you can open the rooms in sequence.  I opened “Leisure” first.  This passes checkpoint Col_FindClockTool.

Next I went to Prayer, where there was nothing useful to be found.  I then opened Work, at which point we passed checkpoint Col_WorkDoorOpened.  Inside Work, there is an elevator to Laboratories.  We press the button, and, descending, get a glimpse of original game Booker and Elizabeth on an intermediate level.  This passes checkpoint Col_ElevBottom where I've decided I've had enough of this session.

All in all, this sojourn back in Columbia is very faithful to the original game.  It's good to be back!  Let's hope we never encounter a Handyman here with the wimpy weapons with which we're equipped.

We end up with $143, 6 lockpicks, full Eve and Health with 3 spare medical kits, and plenty of ammo for all weapons.  We have now acquired all of the weapons in the game.  The direct select keys for plasmids are:

  1.  Peeping Tom
  2.  Possession
  3.  Old Man Winter
  4.  Ironsides

2018 November 23

There is a new twist in this episode which wasn't present in the main game or Episode 1.  When Elizabeth walks near a weapon dropped by a defeated enemy, any ammo which is the same as as weapon she's carrying (that's not already full) is picked up and added to her inventory.  This is automatic: you don't have to do anything other than approach the weapon.  I suppose this can be thought of as similar to Elizabeth's occasionally throwing ammo to Booker in earlier games.

Took the elevator down to the Fink Laboratory where, despite opposition, we commenced the search for the elusive hair sample.  When you first arrive in the laboratory, you pass checkpoint Col_HandyLabs.  As you search, it's evident that a large portion of the lab is behind doors marked “Quarantine Area” which can't be opened.  From time to time you can see through a wire glass panel into an area inside where there are wonderful things.  There's a sky barge with a turret parked outside one of the windows of the main lab hall, and we take quite a bit of damage from it before figuring out where the fire's coming from and dispatching the turret.  There doesn't appear to be any way to get to the sky barge.

In the process of exploring, we come across a room with a bridge to the sky barge where there is some loot to be had. More importantly, we can use a hook on the barge to jump to the terrace outside the Imprint Lab.  Arriving there, we pass checkpoint Col_ImprintLabs.

We pass through a series of rooms, some with exhibits we can activate with levers, others with projectors and charts which seem to indicate that Suchong and Fink have been collaborating on their parallel technologies such as the Handyman and BigDaddy.  This is a trans-dimensional collaboration like the Luteces.  The levers allow us to finally arrive at a room with a lever which opens the quarantine area, where we pass checkpoint Col_Hub.  It's full of Vox, who must be dealt with. (How did they get there?)

Within the quarantine, diligent searching acquires the goodies we glimpsed from outside (although I never found what looked to be a plasmid upgrade I saw through a window somewhere) and finally, the hair sample in a bottle.  Note that this is actually Elizabeth's hair, used in experiments to imprint the Songbird on her.  So, she's gone through all of this harrowing adventure in Columbia to obtain a sample of her own hair!  But Suchong does not know that the hair is Elizabeth's, and she does not discover it is until what she sees in the Imprint Lab.  Obtaining the sample passes checkpoint Col_ImprintAcquired and obtains the achievement “Mein Hair”.  The Radar Range, despite being anachronistic in 1912 Columbia, is unreasonably effective against the Vox.  Since we're unlikely to find more ammo for it there, I decided to use it up first and actually didn't run out before leaving Columbia.

With the hair sample in hand, the goal is to return to the tear and go back to Rapture to deliver it to Suchong.  I decided to spend some time exploring to find ammo, Medical Kits, and Eve before returning to the tear.  In this process, we pass checkpoints Col_ExitImprint leaving the Imprint Lab, Col_ExitHub leaving the quarantine area, and Col_ElevTop as the elevator takes us back up to the room with the big clock.  Dialogue between Elizabeth and mecha-not-Booker fills in back story during this journey.

We arrive back at the airship dock, and I explore, collecting some goodies.  There's a sky line accessible from the dock, but I didn't take the opportunity to see how much of the rest of Columbia was accessible from it.  (Wouldn't it be cool if somebody developed a follow-on mod where this Elizabeth was loose in Columbia with Booker and Elizabeth from the original game at the same time, each following their own agenda?)  Progressing down the passage to the airship dock, we see that it has departed (presumably with Booker and Elizabeth on board, about to encounter the Songbird).  We don't get a chance to see the just-killed Daisy Fitzroy (or I missed it).  At the end of the dock there's a shimmering tear which we can open to return to Rapture.  Arriving there passes checkpoint Rap_ReturnToRapture, where Suchong tells us to place the hair sample in the Pneumo to complete our part of the deal.  I called it a night here.

We end up with $235, 12 lockpicks, a little light on ammo (but there are vending machines in Rapture where we can spend some of that cash to top that up), Eve and Health at maximum, and 4 Medical Kits in reserve.

2018 November 24

After many other matters requiring my attention, I got back to the game, picking up at Rap_ReturnToRapture.  The next goal is to place the hair sample in the Pneumo but, as usual, I first searched around for resources, finding nothing useful.

Putting the hair sample into the Pneumo triggers a communication from Ryan saying he's sending his goons in 60 seconds.  This will require all of our weapons and plasmids to defeat.  When we finally manage this, with everything drawn down, we pass checkpoint Rap_DefendAgainstGoons.

Now the objective becomes to get to Fontaine's office, of which Atlas has taken control, where we can place the Quantum Particle to raise Rapture.  We hear lots of splicer action and fire outside our immediate environs.  I decide to explore and replenish supplies and succeed in finding some Eve, Health, and ammo.  Proceeding to toward the office, we enter Bathyspheres Deluxe again and pass checkpoint Rap_HubB.

As usual, this is a target-rich environment, and we eventually get to the Manta Ray Lounge, where we pass checkpoint Rap_LoungeB. In the basement, there is a vending machine where I can spend some of the funds from earlier adventures topping up everything.  There is also a Need to Know machine with a very spooky experimental film by Sander Cohen which ends with “Look Behind You” which, when you do, will creep you out.  Shooting it doesn't help—just “walk on by”.  There is a lot of opposition progressing through the lounge, but we're now well armed.

We finally arrive at an elevator and push the button.  There is a long and ominous message from Ryan on the way: “It's like Isaac Newton dying in a house fire in a vain attempt to save his cat”.  We arrive at Fontaine's Office, where we pass checkpoint Rap_FontaineOffice.

That will conclude today's abbreviated session,  We end up with $115 (lots of money having been expended topping up resources and ammo), 12 lockpicks (haven't had need of any for quite a while), full Eve and Health, with five Medical Kits in reserve, and plenty of ammo.

2018 November 25

Entering Fontaine's office, there's nothing to do other than place the quantum particle.  When this is done, the prison seems to start to rise and Atlas appears, announcing a double cross.  Elizabeth blacks out and wakes up in a clinic with an interrogator who talks with an accent.  We pass checkpoint Clinic_Fontaines.

This begins a long, scripted (non-interactive) sequence in which Elizabeth is chloroformed and given truth serum, sees strange visions from her past or parallel universes, and ends up being threatened with a trans-orbital lobotomy by Atlas if she will not give up the “Ace in the Hole”, about which she knows nothing.  Just as the lobotomy is about to be performed she says, defiantly, “Go ahead.  Take away my memories!”.  Atlas stops the process and brings in a Little Sister who he threatens with lobotomy.  Booker appears to Elizabeth and there is a vision sequence revealing the future after which she blurts out to Atlas that the Ace is in Suchong's laboratory.

Ace says he will never be able to get there with every turret in Rapture programmed to his identity.  Elizabeth volunteers to go and retrieve the Ace and Atlas says that if she does, he will return Sally to her.  Elizabeth is taken to Atlas's bathysphere and transported to Suchong's clinic, where we pass checkpoint Clinic_Suchongs.

We pass a newsstand where there's an armed guy behind the counter who pays no attention to us and, behind the counter, what appears to be a dead body (which we can't, however, search).  At this point we are carrying no weapon.  We pass through a passage behind the counter and enter Dr. Suchong's Free Clinic, where we see two BigDaddys hanging from the ceiling.  There is a blackboard with a drawing of the BigDaddy drill and a note that the throwable drill will be removed in a future model.  Proceeding further into the clinic, there's another blackboard which says “Imprinting solution NOT Found in genetics!”.

We next come across an apparently malfunctioning “Vita-Chamber Prototype Stage-1” with a blackboard talking about “plasmids reconstructed within a field of quantum entanglement” and that they must be tuned to Ryan's “specific genetic frequency”.  Next there's a room with a BigDaddy groaning on the floor but not taking any hostile action and two Little Sisters in the corner, cowering and whimpering.  The BigDaddy is blocking the door to the next room, and when we try to move it, it awakes but does not move.  There is another set piece which concludes with a new task of finding how to repair the BigDaddy to unblock the door.

We backtrack through the clinic and find two coded messages which explain that the BigDaddy must imprint with the Adam of a specific Little Sister.  With this knowledge, we return to the BigDaddy and get the Little Sisters to inject the BigDaddy with the Adam they're carrying.  The BigDaddy activates, picks up the Little Sisters, and unblocks the door.  At this point we pass checkpoint Clinic_SuchongsLabs.

Finally we reach a room where we see Suchong and two Little Sisters.  He abuses one of them and a BigDaddy enters, flashes red, and kills Suchong with the drill.  Next to Suchong's body is a folded piece of paper marked “Ace” which contains another formula code.  This is apparently the “Ace in the Hole”.  We now must return to Atlas with the Ace.  We enter a crack in the wall and start to move through a creepy area inside the walls, at which point we pass checkpoint Clinic_FontaineOfficeReturn.  We still aren't carrying a weapon.

We travel within the walls to return to Fontaine's office where Atlas is waiting.  When given the Ace, instead of returning Sally, he knocks out Elizabeth with a wrench (won't she ever learn?).  This begins a long dream sequence (or something) in which Ryan discovers he can't read the coded message but Elizabeth, who knows Suchong's code decodes it, giving Atlas the activation code.  This then starts another long sequence which ends with a bathysphere bobbing to the surface with three Little Sisters.  Fade to black and credits.  We earn the “Paid in Full” achievement for completing Burial at Sea, Episode 2.

Here is one purported explanation of the ending:

and here is an explanation of the entire episode.

Obviously, both are full of spoilers.  Key to understanding this episode is that when a person capable of trans-dimensional viewing and travel such as Elizabeth and Luteces happens to enter a parallel reality in which they have died, they lose their powers and become a normal person bound to spend the rest of their life there, unable to see the past or future or access other realities.  This is what Elizabeth accepts when she returns to Rapture from Paris to pay her debt to Sally: she must carry out the mission as a normal human, guided by the imaginary Booker she conjures up from her memories of the past.  (This is the Booker who occasionally appears in visions and speaks to her from the “radio”.)

Also, you won't really understand what's going on in the conclusion to the episode unless you know the detailed plot of the original Bioshock set in Rapture and the relationship of Fontaine, Ryan, and Atlas.  I didn't really understand this until I watched the videos above, with the result that much of the ending left me saying, “Huh?”.  Of course, knowing those details is a huge spoiler for Bioshock, but since it isn't available on Linux/SteamOS, I'm unlikely to ever play it (even if I weren't totally Bioshocked-out from this experience), so I'd probably be better off to have read a synopsis of its plot first.

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by John Walker
January, 2019