Back in 2007, “BioShock” took players on a creepily beautiful journey through a crumbling underwater city called Rapture. The wanton, unregulated genetic enhancements that led to the city’s downfall served as a commentary on Ayn Rand’s writing and gave players some fun abilities to use against the city’s remaining denizens.
Perhaps the most memorable part of the game was its opening moments: The protagonist lights a cigarette and speaks his only line of dialogue before his plane crashes over the ocean. He swims to a mysterious lighthouse that houses a vessel, which gives him a grand tour of Rapture. This journey is narrated by Andrew Ryan, the city’s idealistic founder.
Shockingly enough, that fantastic intro sequence almost didn’t happen as we know it. After a negative focus test with the game already basically finished, the team got together and realised players needed an identity to connect with.
“We came up with a very cheap way to add the opening scene with the plane crash. I wrote one line,” series creator Ken Levine told Rolling Stone. “We had this idea that you’d be smoking a cigarette on a plane, which to me set the time period really well. We wanted something right away that would not just say it with text but would put it in your soul.”
This decision was so smart that it seems like a no-brainer in hindsight. Giving the protagonist one line of dialogue (a remark about how his parents told him he could be special) establishes him as a person instead of a set of hands, and the plane crash adds to the game’s pervasive sense of mystery.
Interest in “BioShock” has been renewed recently thanks to the release of “BioShock: The Collection” on PS4 and Xbox One. The $60 collection features the original game as well as its two sequels, and all of the downloadable content for each game.