In which we visit a strange temple, meet Elisabeth and
go fall to the Beach In The Sky.
So, we got our skyhook, time for tutorial. It can be used to
a) hang on to other hooks in the city,
b) ride the skylines, pairs of rails used for all kinds of inner city traffic and
c) bash someones brains out. Because dual use is best use.
Some conversations you can listen in to already told us that the skyhooks are used by workers and law enforcement to travel along the skylines. The game showed us that the skylines are used for traffic, mostly containers occupying both rails. Let’s start the massacre:
DeWitt can jump onto hooks and skylines. With jumps a lot more powerful than the common space-button-jump. This is somewhat lampshaded, as DeWitt says, hanging on his first hook, that these things must be magnetic or something. We’re talking about a handheld device, powerful enough to lift a grown man up to a random hook hanging quite some way away. And it only works on pre-defined places. Hm.
Jumping from hook to hook in a flying city with a long way to fall might seem to be a bad idea, but wait: there’s more. Riding the skylines. Remember, two rails. Using the skyhook that’s one line per direction. Containers travel on both rails. Workers and law enforcement probably know the schedules. DeWitt sure as hell doesn’t. What could possibly go wrong, especially given the fact that you sometimes have to clear the lines by sending a freight train on the way…
On we go.
Somewhere around here DeWitt gets a shield. A vigor-shield. A magical device, incarnating as an additional bar of damage-eating.
We meet some citizens, who don’t start shooting you (which is good). We also find some printing presses with flyers/posters for the negro-cause. Good to know that not everyone here is a racist.
racist at the topic of racism: enter the Fraternal Order of the Raven. Upon entering the building, we stand in front of a statue of John Wilkes Booth. At seeing this is became very clear what the goal of the order is. demonization of Lincoln and racial-purity-slogans on the walls proved this first impression right.
Some shooty-time with brothers of the order, a cutscene in which a chinese prisoner is executed by crows and a new kind of enemy complete this section.
Next stop: Monument Island. We get us a zeppelin, hear a speech by Comstock and get suicide-bombed out of the sky.
The target at the island is, of course, the monument, a gigantic angel. Scenery driven gameplay, a lot of non-OHSA-compliant electrical installations with no clear purpose (as of now), a stacking quarantine-zoning and data from the observation of Elisabeth. The girl DeWitt has to get, if that’s not clear. She is displayed, among other things, as a genius codebreaker. This gets important later…
We navigate the whole facility, finally find a way inside and have to escape the subsequent destruction of the monument, pursued by what we later learn is a songbird. A.. mechanical? Vigor-ic? Whatever made watch-bird-thing. There are more of them, their task is to protect Columbia. This ones task is to Elisabeth locked up.
We escape, land in water, and the whole statue falls apart.
Upon waking up, we find ourself on the beach of Battlefield Bay. A beach resort. In the sky. What? No, seriously: What? How does this even work? And.. why is there a giant waterfall next to a beach and why are people swimming there? Seriously?
And why does nobody care that two people just fell from the sky, right after the monument started collapsing? WHY DOES NOBODY CARE?
Also, it was at Battleship Bay that I noticed the really strange positioning of voice recorders. In Rapture one could throw around the “chaotic civil war”-argument. Why do I find a voicelog of Comstock’s biographer under a trailer on a beach? Why do I find these things at all? Are all the major players of Columbia running around town all day, throwing their diaries around? And why do I find recordings made by black servants? Because exposition, I guess. And because the experience would suffer from losing the stuff. But still…
Making our way through Battleship Bay towards the aerodrome, we pass an arcade with animatrons of Duke&Dimwit and a larger-than-life Washington-animatron, praising the city and its founder. We also pass two sets of bathrooms, one for “negroes and irish”, one for actual people. Following the videogame-reflexes, we loot both of them – the second class-bathrooms are a mess, falling apart.
Somewhere in this area we also found a kinetoscope damning the irish, so yes: the black and the irish share the place at the lowest end of the social ladder. At one point in the game there was also a kinetoscope with a movie from some industrialist, saying that if he had it his way the irish would work or die trying. The devs have my respect for their portrayal of society – I would think that some executives needed a lot of work to actually allow this stuff in a game.
Another notion towards portrayal of society: Somewhere on Battleship Bay you overhear a conversation of two women: “So, she works now?” – “Yes, as a newspaper I’ve heard…” – “Well, that’s the modern women for you”. Attention for detail.
Trying to get to aerodrome, we have a little run-in with the government with another faux choice. My roommate told me before to not get stabbed in the hand, what is a really good advice. Don’t get stabbed in the hand. Anyways, this encounter ends in several dead bodies, and we have to chase down Elisabeth, who actually run away in horror. Your plot-companion actually has to be convinced in a (no-choice) dialogue that there was no alternative. Characterisation. This is not just a random escort-mission-minion, and she becomes even less one. Well done.
What happens at Soldiers’ Field, which is basically an exhibition for kids to instill the necessary patriotism to get recruits for Columbia’s forces, has been discussed.
The plot device we have to get out of the Hall of Heroes is the lightning-vigor. Most electric stuff is powered by a fluctuating ball of Applied Phlebotinum – somehow a form of the vigor that can be put into a machine. And to get it running again or to short-circuit it or whatever, we now have to get the bottled version. Hall of Heroes, here I come.