Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
Oh, my feelings about BioShock as a series are so muddled these days. I’ve been round the houses with hype, backlash, backlash-backlash, controversy, disappointment, hope, nostalgia, all of it. One thing I do know: late-in-the-day BioShock 2 DLC Minerva’s Den got it right.
It benefits hugely from being essentially a standalone vignette, rather than trying to in anyway affect the fate of the larger BioShock universe (let alone universes), so there’s barely even a compulsion to wonder about loose ends or cosmic deus ex machinas. That isn’t to say there isn’t a whole lot of craft here, in terms of level design, tone and writing. There’s tons of attention to detail, and in its convincing fleshing out of a ghost town world it’s not hard to see how its creators went on to make Gone Home.
It hits the key beats of the ideas behind BioShock – manipulation, twisted technology, distorted values, ambition and folly – and it weaves all that into the improved combat system that, for some, makes BioShock 2 the superior of BioShock 1. Given recent, divisive talk of BioShock being a continuing franchise without its original creator at the helm, Minerva’s Den’s quiet completeness suggests that needn’t necessarily be a bad thing.