Killing with kindness – remembering Bioshock’s shattering plot shocker

Would you kindly… stop reading this and finish Ken Levine’s seminal Bioshock if you haven’t already done so. Back in the room? Splendid. Now that we’ve all witnessed last generation’s mightiest spoiler, let us raise a giant drill hand in celebration of a moment that will forever make us suspicious of unfailingly polite Irishmen.

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Remembering Bioshock’s shattering plot shocker

Bioshock constantly probes at the nature of what defines free will. Are we the author of our own fate in games? Do we ever truly have the final say regarding virtual choices? In Irrational’s shooter, Levine gives you just enough rope to hang your concept of choice.

After toiling through the drowning dystopia of Rapture, you eventually confront Andrew Ryan, the unhinged mastermind who erected the twisted city under the sea. Painted as the conspiring arch villain of the piece, the encounter that ends with you staving his head in with a nine iron is a doozy.

Meeting Bioshock’s Andrew Ryan is the game’s defining ending rather than the mediocre boss battle that follows later

“A man chooses, a slave obeys,” hisses the master manipulator just before he demands you cave in his cranium. Not only were you destined to slay Ryan, but you never had a say in the matter. Thanks to the revelation every key action has been preempted by the trigger “Would you kindly?”.

After the Irish deceiver reveals himself to be Ryan’s nemesis Frank Fontaine, the wheels for the game’s underwhelming climax have already been put into motion. Yet the lingering impact of Ryan choosing to end his life on his terms – defying both his enemy and your powerless puppet hero – remains one of PS3’s defining moments. In a game of hidden servitude, choice is everything.