Here I am again with another BioShock Infinite theory! And, again, I can’t really write a proper intro to this post without being spoilery. Don’t click through if you haven’t finished BioShock Infinite!
FINAL SPOILER WARNING!
OK. If you’re reading this, hopefully you’ve finished BioShock Infinite and are familiar with the part where Elizabeth bamfs you to Rapture. If you’ve been following reviews and reactions to the game, you’ve probably also come across this theory that you can hear Songbird’s death screeches during the very first BioShock game, and how this implies that Booker and Elizabeth arrive in Rapture during the events of BioShock.
Personally, I didn’t think the screeches sounded exactly the same and wrote it off as a coincidence, which is still my position. Still, I wanted to see if there was any evidence to support the idea that the two games coincide chronologically, so I pulled up some videos on YouTube to compare.
Most of the scenery looked pretty similar to me, but one view in particular — of the main room where you arrive in BioShock Infinite and where you get your first Plasmid in BioShock — looked much cleaner and brighter in Infinite. So I decided that Infinite must actually precede BioShock, since obviously no one was going around doing cleanup and remodeling after Rapture’s fall. That was the position that originally led me to write this article, because it pretty well debunks the whole Songbird death screeches theory.
So, for the first time, I made my own video capture so I could properly compare the two rooms. But as I’m sure the Luteces would agree, oftentimes when we set out to prove a theory, we end up with a totally different conclusion, and that’s what happened here!
While walking around Rapture in the two games, I realized that THEY ARE NOT THE SAME RAPTURE. Not just two points in the same timeline, but two different versions of Rapture altogether. I’ll show you what I mean below — in each example, the screencap from BioShock is on the top and the one from BioShock Infinite is on the bottom.
When Jack first arrives at the lighthouse after the plane crash, one of the lamps is askew and flickering. The same is true when Booker and Elizabeth approach the lighthouse in the Bathysphere. So, so far, this seems to be the same place.
The Bathysphere Jack arrives in is not the same one Booker and Elizabeth leave in (there are two Bathysphere bays in this room). But here’s Jack’s view as he exits his Bathysphere and a view from the same bay in BioShock Infinite. It looks fairly similar, but in BioShock, the sign for Finley’s Eat-In Take-Out is clearly visible. In BioShock Infinite, the only building outside these windows with any signage at all just says NEWS. Hmmmm.
Also, interesting sidenote! When Jack first arrives in his Bathysphere, the Splicer outside asks, “Is it someone new?” In BioShock Infinite, when Booker arrives at Columbia, Preacher Witting asks the EXACT same question. That has nothing to do with the rest of this post — actually, it relates more to my previous post about parallels — but I highly doubt it was a coincidence so I thought it was pretty rad.
The bay that Booker and Elizabeth’s Bathysphere is in is actually completely inaccessible in the Rapture of BioShock. The walkway is missing/broken and there is a gate across its entrance.
There are more picket signs in BioShock (and more variety of messages on them), as well as lots of ticket stubs strewn about the floor. That could imply just a different point in the timeline, but additionally, there’s a light fixture on the post next to the bench in BioShock, whereas there isn’t in BioShock Infinite.
In the next room, a Splicer is chased up the corner by a Security Bot in BioShock, and as you can see, it goes pretty high. But in BioShock Infinite, the ceiling is probably half that height.
The main difference with this doorway is the debris (and the toolbox), but also the design of the security door is slightly different.
Looking down the stairs out the door we just came through, there are two main things of note. First, there is no Rapture Metro sign in BioShock Infinite. Second, the ads on the walls are different. In BioShock, there’s a Rapture Radio poster on the left and an Oxford Club Cigarettes poster on the right; in BioShock Infinite, the same Oxford Club ad is on the left, with a Plasmids ad on the right. (In BioShock, there are other ads higher up the stairs, but it’s too dark there in BioShock Infinite to compare.)
Now, here’s the view that spawned my whole theory. Not only is the floor much, much cleaner-looking in BioShock Infinite, there are no statues immediately on either side of the security door, the bottom window panes are not divided up, and the columns in the middle of the room are much closer together.
After Songbird’s death, here’s your first view of Rapture in BioShock Infinite. (Cool sidenote: Check out the Big Daddy and Little Sister in the tube!) The Footlight Theater and Kashmir Restaurant are in the same place as they are in the BioShock view, but the tubes are totally different. The one leading from the room we’re in (at the bottom right of this image) is broken, which is exactly how it ends up after Jack’s plane busts through it — but here, it doesn’t seem like it was ever attached to that tube going across. There are also more tubes higher up and more structures outside the window in general. It’s much more open-looking in Infinite.
Ah, Finley’s once again. In BioShock Infinite, there is no Finley’s sign, only the one that says BISTRO. There are also no tubes there like there are in BioShock and Fleet Hall’s sign is not visible.
Most of the environment in BioShock Infinite is cleaner-looking than that in BioShock, except for a few things, like the scale model of Rapture. It’s far dingier in Infinite.
A similar view to the one we saw from the stairs entrance, but higher up. Another distinction I didn’t mention before: the typography on the “Welcome to Rapture” sign is a bit different. The wood paneling on the floor also seems to be going in opposite (perpendicular) directions.
Aside from being empty, the Gatherer’s Garden in BioShock Infinite doesn’t have the Plasmid icons along the arch above it. The grates on either side of it are also different; they reach the floor in Infinite but in BioShock there’s a stylized border along the bottom.
There are two banners in this room, one on the left and one on the right (looking out from the balcony). In both BioShock and BioShock Infinite, the one on the right is the one about “The Great Chain”. In Infinite, the one on the left is this same banner, but in BioShock, the “No Gods or Kings” banner hangs there.
The right-hand banners are visible here, though the one from Infinite is a bit hard to see since it’s so dark. Trust me, though — it’s The Great Chain in both. Additionally, there’s no decorative post at the center of the balcony railing in Infinite. And once again, you can see how much tighter everything is — the columns are closer together and the ceiling is lower.
So there you are. Structurally, these do not appear to be the same version of Rapture. Now, you might be thinking, “Maybe Irrational just got lazy, or maybe they just didn’t want to spend the resources to duplicate it exactly.” And for some things, like the room being slightly smaller, I might accept that. But they’re close enough that it’s pretty obvious the developers were basing this Rapture directly on the one from BioShock. Why go to all the trouble to make them so close (down to the flickering lamp outside the lighthouse), but change things like the statues, the ads on the wall, the banners, the balcony post, etc.? Why make the scale model dingy-looking? Why change all the tubes outside?
I don’t feel like a studio which put so much effort into a game about the multiverse, and a game which bears such close analysis, would accidentally make these Raptures look so different. I’m sure they’d expect people to make comparisons like the one I did. But hey, let’s just say (for science’s sake!) that it was a total accident. Even then, I’d say they created a new version of Rapture by default. Their choices led to a different universe. So either way, I am now totally convinced that we didn’t return to the Rapture we knew at all, only glimpsed a new one.
Have I convinced you, too? Or do you disagree? Let me know in the comments!