A decade later, the Lutece Twins are still the best thing in BioShock Infinite
Remembering that one bit we all quite enjoyed in honour of the game's 10th anniversary
A long time ago (in 2013, in fact) in a student-y house far away (assuming that you don't live too near to Nottingham), I started playing the BioShock series. I'd flirted with the idea for years, but it was the release of BioShock Infinite that finally convinced me to take the plunge. And I can't exactly complain: the series' Rapture arc — made up of the first and second games, plus the prequel novel by none other than John "The Crow" Shirley — now makes up maybe 10% of my personality, having given me two of my favourite video games, my favourite video game tie-in book, and a front-running contender for my favourite video game locale all at once.
I just wish that, after all that prep I did for it, I'd actually liked BioShock Infinite a bit more.
I'm sure you're familiar with The Discourse by now, though. So instead of picking apart BInfinite's (many) flaws, I've elected to celebrate its 10th birthday by talking about something from this game that I really, truly loved: The Lutece Twins.
This duo of genteel unstuck-in-time science-ghost demi-gods pop up now and then over the course of BioShock Infinite to put Booker through his protagonistic paces. Aside from companion character Elizabeth they're really the only allies Booker has in Columbia, and even though they're not a constant on-screen presence, their infrequent scenes are reliable highlights. Just hearing their distinctive leitmotif kick in becomes a sure-fire precursor of delightful nonsense.
RPS regulars may be aware that I have a wee bit of a tendency to hyperfixate, and Rosalind Lutece in particular was an obsession of mine for about the next two years. I already had a significant soft-spot for Brigid Tenenbaum — the mad lady scientist from BioShock's Rapture setting — but Rosalind Lutece was one of the few riffs on the series' formula that I found actually even more compelling in Infinite's version.
Rosalind is the queen of giving zero fucks: an amoral monster in many respects, but a surprisingly kind one in her way, her every action serving up the sort of ethical complexity that I wish female characters got to grapple with more often. She's complicit in Elizabeth's ongoing imprisonment, but also goes out of her way to be an educator and genuine confidant to the younger woman under her care. She'll rip up the fabric of the space-time continuum because she's so thrilled to have worked out how to do it when no-one else could, but faced with an obvious act of cosmic evil she'll do her best to follow the path of good. She's quite selfish in the pursuit of what she wants, but what she mainly seems to desire is simply the presence and wellbeing of her brother Robert, whose sobering influence she obviously holds in high regard and whose more moderate advice she follows when it really matters.
And, as a side note, she looks flawless, with her ethereal wave of hair precision-engineered to make cosplayers weep. (Genuinely: the designer responsible for modelling that 'do admitted that it's nigh-on impossible to replicate under the pressure of real-world physics.)
The relationship between Rosalind and Robert was another source of fascination for me. Despite introducing themselves as fraternal twins, you later learn that they're actually alternate universe diversions of the same life. After finding a way to communicate with one another across the veil, the slightly-more-brilliant Rosalind pulled Robert through to her reality so that they could be together. If this sounds more than a bit romantic, you'd be correct in your suspicion, because this pair are quite definitely fucking, even if the narrative delicately pulls up just short of outright stating it.
Whether this is gross, really gross, or extremely romantic in a melodramatic high-gothic way will depend on your perspective. Frankly, I don't think there can be a right answer, because to the best of my knowledge there are no real-life test cases to assess it against. But man did I fall hard for the creepy-sweet vibe between these two dimension-hopping weirdos. (I draw the line at the bit in the DLC where they tell you they plan on having kids though. That can't be healthy, surely.)
That aside, if you want proof that the Lutece twins absolutely carried BioShock Infinite, you don't need to just take my word for it. They were nominated for four games industry Character Of The Year awards and won two of them, a markedly better showing than the game as a whole managed. Baguette Boy may have won over our hearts and minds in recent years, but these two were the real MVPs.