Ever since I reached the end of Bioshock Infinite I’ve been curious to see what the developers would do with the announced DLC. Finding out that it was going to be set in Rapture only increased my curiosity. Burial at Sea’s narrative is intriguing, and its setting brings back fond memories of the original Bioshock. Unfortunately, while it’s an interesting addition to the story, it’s disappointingly light on content for the price of admission.
Burial at Sea begins with Booker DeWitt waking at his desk. A woman named Elizabeth has come to engage his services to help her find a lost girl, Sally. After accepting the job Booker opens the door to his office, revealing that they are in Rapture. Although Booker and Elizabeth start the story as strangers, there are references to their relationship in Infinite throughout, and eventually everything is tied back together.
The combat is essentially the same as Infinite, with a few tweaks. The first is the return of the weapon wheel, which allows Booker to carry all of the game’s weapons, as opposed to the two Infinite limited players to. The other change is an increased focus on stealth. Players can sneak up behind enemies and perform a melee attack that chains right into an execution, which is nice for thinning out a crowd before engaging in a firefight.
Aside from those changes and the difference in scenery, Burial at Sea plays just like Infinite, meaning the combat is not fantastic, but adequate in service of advancing the plot. There are still freight hooks to hang from and rails to ride, and Elizabeth still opens tears, although there are some new items she can bring into the world. Death is no more than a minor inconvenience, as dying cost me some money but never any progress in the game.
True to the series the atmosphere in Burial at Sea is top notch, and everything in Rapture, from main story points to conversations overheard in passing is well crafted. It looks terrific as well, although I did encounter some frame rate drops, most often when entering new areas. One thing that stood out was some odd aspects of the presentation. Occasionally I would hear enemy voices when none were around, or I would hear male voices when only female splicers were in the vicinity. In a couple of instances, the game presented me with a tip about using freight hooks, when there were none around. These occurrences were not game breaking by any means, but they did draw me out of the experience.
One thing about Burial at Sea that stings is the cost – it’s $15, and the content takes anywhere from 90 minutes to two hours to complete. That price is already on the steep side for the amount of content, but what really makes it hurt is that this is only half of the story. With another half coming, players will be shelling out $30 (assuming the second half is priced the same) to see this plot line through. I think I would have been more OK with the length if this was a complete narrative, but as it is it feels overpriced for what’s there.
Burial at Sea Part 1 is what I expected from Bioshock Infinite DLC – it’s full of atmosphere and intrigue, and it wraps up in a way that left me anxious for the conclusion. Going back to Rapture is fun, but the asking price makes for an expensive trip. It’s definitely a compelling addition to the narrative, but most players will do better to wait and pick it up on sale.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.