Irrational Games and Lazy 8 Studios have detailed the release of Bioshock Infinite: Industrial Revolution, a puzzle game which introduces players to the world and characters of the upcoming adventure game, as well as interact with it.
It’s an innovative idea: Create a stand-alone, low-budget game, set in the story-world of the upcoming AAA title, but give it a completely different ludic genre. In this case: the game is a 2 dimensional physics puzzler.
The title resembles the style and gameplay of the popular indie puzzler Cogs, which has players fitting gears and pipes together to solve physics challenges. The biggest difference is that Industrial Revolution is only two-dimensional, while Cogs’ puzzles are 3D. The similarities, however, are not a coincidence, nor a knock off. The games are similar because the same designer, Lazy 8 Studios, made both games.
Bioshock Infinite has been in development for some time now, and Cogs had been recently released when development began. The game grabbed the attention of the designers over at Irrational Games, who came up with the idea of Industrial Revolution, and pitched it to Lazy 8 as a collaborative project. Irrational would supply the plot points that needed to be disclosed to the players through the game, and Lazy 8 would design the 2-D engine, and craft the puzzles.
“They came to me with some ideas already in mind of what they wanted a stand-alone BioShock puzzle game to look like,” recalls Rob Jagnow, founder of Lazy 8 Studios. “The idea was to have a separate BioShock Infinite experience that could help introduce the world to the themes, locations, and players of the ‘big game.’”
And, that’s just what Industrial Revolution will do. The game reveals a conflict that began in Columbia 12 years before the protagonist of the new game arrives. We know from the synopsis of BioShock Infinite that Elizabeth, the girl whom the protagonist has been sent to retrieve, has been trapped on the floating city for about that long, so the reasons for her abduction and captivity will likely be explained.
Columbia was founded to be an Expressionist paradise, a utopia of patriotism, but a conflict arose between the government of Columbia and a group called Vox Populi. Over the course of Industrial Revolution, the player will have to choose sides in this conflict while learning the history of the city, which will be told through in-canon legal documents, news articles, and propaganda posters.
The most interesting aspect of the game, however is not the story it will impart, but the way it will interact with the main title. Players who manage to finish all of the puzzles in Industrial Revolution will be granted special bonuses in the Bioshock Infinite game. What bonus you receive will be determined by the support decisions that you made during the puzzle game. These decisions will also have direct influence on the conflict as it will be presented to the player once they arrive in the city.
It’s an interesting promotional tool, and a great way to convince people to play through the prologue. Unfortunately, there will certainly be those who think it ‘unfair’ to be ‘forced’ to play through a puzzle game to get the full benefit of their first-person adventure game, but – unlike some studios – Irrational doesn’t have a history of sacrificing its artistic vision to appease a few complaining ‘fans’, so I’m not too worried about the naysayers.
Bioshock Infinite: Industrial Revolution will be made available to players who preorder Bioshock Infinite. There is no word of whether it will be released separately after Bioshock Infinite is released this spring.