There they were. Two sentences that purportedly said how BioShock Infinite ended. Two sentences that I’d worked hard to avoid seeing for the better part of last week, after hearing that spoilers were popping up on message boards everywhere. That really, really sucked. Don't worry: there are no spoilers in this post.
Spoilers are an occupational hazard when you write about pop culture. You have to keep them away from people, while at the same time exposing yourself to them by virtue of the job you do. Still, I’d gone more than two years without having any of the plot secrets in BioShock Infinite ruined for me. When I got the review build in my hands last week, I thought I’d safely dodged all the jerkholes who wanted to spoil everyone else’s fun. I could start playing and let the game open itself up to me. But a random comment on a Kotaku article—which has since been deleted—crapped all over that. I read the spoiler after I’d already started Infinite and seeing those words affected my experience with the game. Every time I hit a major plot beat, I’d worry if the damned spoiler I couldn’t un-remember would wind up being true.
But you know what? Nothing was spoiled. Not really.
Those two sentences couldn’t screw up the awe I experienced at the art direction and my giggling at NPC dialogue. Those two sentences did nothing to the challenge of the game’s combat sequences. And they didn’t ruin the depth of the world-building, with all its implied history that made me wonder about the everyday people living miles in the sky. I was still able to lose myself inside the game, probably as intended.
And when I hit the final moments of this new BioShock, the spoiler-worry that bothered me shriveled down to nothing. Look, I realize that plots are kept secret for very good reasons and lots of people want to go into various entertainments with no foreknowledge. I’ve been that way, too, about the TV shows, books and other stuff I’ve been looking forward to. But, when the work has been strong enough, even spoilers can’t ruin good execution. Seeing the moments leading up to a spoiled plot point—the whole cloth of the story being told, if you will—is what I really show up for. And BioShock Infinite’s whole cloth is very impressive.
Now that I’ve finished the game, I already know ALL of what happens in BioShock Infinite. But it’s the experience of playing it that will make me go get a retail copy and play again.