A Quick and Dirty BioShock Infinite Analysis

I devoured BioShock Infinite in what, for all intents and purposes, could be called one sitting. I did get up about halfway through and drive down the street for some fast food takeout that I ate while watching Archer — you know, just for a massive palate-cleansing dose of cognitive dissonance — but otherwise it was an early-morning-through-late-evening furious run of 13 hours.

There are no shortages of BioShock Infinite reviews, so I will spare the world yet another one that tells you what you already know. Infinite is phenomenal, and you should buy it and play it. What I do want to talk about, and only briefly at this point, is what the game made me think about on a higher, conceptual level as I played and finished it.

This is a land of what I call the “gray spoiler,” the sort of spoiler that isn’t an explicit recounting of key story beats, but an area where if you think hard enough on the subject you might glean the shape of the story and as a result the directions it might go during its many twists and turns. For example, knowing that Darth Vader is Luke’s father is an explicit spoiler, however knowing that the story of Star Wars is, at least in part, about a son’s fight to redeem his father, might lead you to guess in the right directions. This discussion will lean to the latter part of that example, and thus should be avoided entirely by those who have not played or do not wish to risk spoiling the terrific overall story of Bioshock Infinite.

Do we understand one another? Good.

To me, what is genuinely impressive about the nature of Infinite’s story is how wide the net is cast, and how full the bounty it ultimately catches. There is no way to encapsulate a definitive statement on what Infinite is about, certainly not in the same way that you could haphazardly reduce down many of the themes of the first BioShock to being about Objectivism, though I actually think that is overly reduced, because Objectivism itself holds so many ideas within its confines.

In fact, I’d say where BioShock is a look at the tenets of a philosophy described and encapsulated within a story (specifically Objectivism within the stories of Ayn Rand), Infinite is Irrational’s stab at creating its own philosophy within its own story. In other words, instead of trying to deconstruct what Rand did, it is trying to replicate it with its own philosophical ideas, though it's probably not as concerned as Rand was with whether you agree with those philosophies.

I say this because Infinite contains a multitude of ideas or inferences about everything from race, to religion, to the metaphysical, to free will in the multiverse.

Where a lot of people, I think, have gotten hung up on the setting and the idea that Infinite is a criticism on American exceptionalism, I actually just see that as a context to create an isolated playground to explore broader ideas. After all, the America of Atlas Shrugged is there to serve the ideas contained within the Objectivist agenda.

I feel it necessary at this point to offer a brief word on authorial intent; specifically that I don’t care much about it. It could entirely be that anyone associated with actually making the game may look at the above and the content to come, and to think, “We didn’t mean to do any of that stuff.” That’s the beauty of art to me, that authorial intent is completely isolated and separate from the way media is received. So, to me, the question of what Ken Levine and his team meant to say with their story is far less interesting than what I and other players in the narrative interpret it to say. After all, a word is irrelevant in a speaker’s mouth. It only gains value in what the listener hears.

Anyway, I’m not ready to start the Cult of Irrational and proclaim Infinitism some new philosophy to which I should subscribe. But I do think there’s a very interesting way that Infinite ends up talking about not only our place in the world, but the agency we have over that place. I’m going to tread close to the spoiler line here, so beware for a few sentences — but in the very first scene, Infinite lays out an interesting question that you only realize much later. Booker DeWitt does not row. Why? Because he doesn’t.

The language of that segment is both very simple and very complex. There is an underlying question that I think isn’t clearly answered, which is whether he does not row because he chooses, or because the universe chooses him not to.

I think this is the part where religion comes in, and there’s a very good reason that the City of Columbia is so devout. If you look at religion in Infinite, it is not specifically any one religion — though it squares with the general trends of 1912 America, which is to say Protestant leaning. Infinite almost has its own independent religion, where the Prophet is a sort of deific figurehead protecting the Lamb and his followers from evil as manifest in the form of the False Prophet, or specifically, the player.

But ultimately Infinite resolves itself in a way that removes the mystery and divinity of that religion, which is interesting, because I think that by taking that approach, Infinite’s critique of religion as an ideology is defanged. After all, you can only understand that which seems divine in the game with extraordinary knowledge that, while not explicitly unknowable, for all purposes is unattainable by almost anyone. It does not paint the followers of the Columbia mystical vision as stupid, though it does cast them as unwittingly manipulated, which still could be seen to indict the institution of religion in a way, because in the end the foundation that the religion is built on has nothing to do with any kind of god. It has to do with very, very complex science, and people who manipulated that science to make it seem mystical.

That is not to say that the game is anti-religious. In fact, I don’t know in the end whether Infinite really says anything about capital-G-God, or whether he exists or doesn’t. It speaks only to the finite construction of religion within the terms of the one created in the game, and which is a knowable, finite thing. Infinite doesn’t really say, if you believe in God then you are misled, but that these people who believe in this god have been fooled.

In the end, Irrational's creation walks the fascinatingly fine line of critiquing corrupted institutions while not blaming the often innocent or at least misled followers of those institutions. After all, the thing about The Prophet in Infinite is that, by any reasonable measure to a citizen of Columbia, he is one in what seems every legitimate way.

So in the final quick and dirty analysis, I think if I were to distill Infinite down to a few words, the most obvious would be redemption. The game oozes redemption at every corner, though I think the corollary to that is equally true, which is that Infinite is also very much about corruption. It is manifest in the very deterioration of the city around you, as well as some of the institutions that slide from one role to another. Even within the way Elizabeth discovers her own abilities, it is evident that imparting a singular will upon the world, even with seemingly pure intent, ultimately corrupts and undermines the very things she wants to preserve.

It doesn't simply leave it at that, a surface statement that sounds suspiciously like "power corrupts, and absolute power ..." yada, yada, yada. Without diving too much into the ending, I think what it really is saying is that ignorant or cynical power naturally corrupts. There is this undercurrent, in the story of redemption, in the story of corruption, in the story of the religion, that knowledge unbinds us. It does so often with unflinching and uncompromising results, but power throughout this game lies in those who "know," and the way to undermine or co-opt their power is to also know, or even know more.

Or, perhaps, that is simply me projecting my desire onto the story I've been told. There's a lot of meat to gnaw at, but in truth not a very clear message to take away without unpacking Infinite's substantial baggage. That's good, though, I think. If nothing else it warms my heart to have a game worth thinking about, even if Ken and his team ultimately do hold the trump cards, because they are the ones who know.

Comments

An interesting criticism of Bioshock Infinite that I think really exposes its weak points:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJ2cS...

In particular,

Spoiler:

I was a bit struck by the point that while Booker is supposedly incredibly crushed and remorseful over his actions at wounded knee, he spends most of this game casually slaughtering hundreds of people, even brutally executing them.

rabbit wrote:

This is the smartest thing I've read yet, and I TOTALLY hadn't thought of this

While it's a neat idea, it doesn't really hold up. Mostly because:

Spoiler:

Are we to believe that the next Booker does everything exactly the same way as the last one right up until he gets to that death and then somehow manages to avoid that death but also manages to kill every opponent he previously killed? If we can change things, it's a stretch that we'd make every single choice the same as the last time. If we can't, we should be dying every time.

Valmorian wrote:
rabbit wrote:

This is the smartest thing I've read yet, and I TOTALLY hadn't thought of this

While it's a neat idea, it doesn't really hold up. Mostly because:

Spoiler:

Are we to believe that the next Booker does everything exactly the same way as the last one right up until he gets to that death and then somehow manages to avoid that death but also manages to kill every opponent he previously killed? If we can change things, it's a stretch that we'd make every single choice the same as the last time. If we can't, we should be dying every time.

Spoiler:

They establish that when you go from one universe to another, your memories merge somehow. This would explain why the new Booker has all of the memories and "progress" of the old one. Given the fact that you respawn behind his office door, which is gray (because there'e a tear behind it), I think it not only holds up, but is the only reasonable explanation for what's happening there.

benu302000 wrote:
Spoiler:

They establish that when you go from one universe to another, your memories merge somehow. This would explain why the new Booker has all of the memories and "progress" of the old one.

That would be all very good, except for one MASSIVE glaring problem:

Spoiler:

You and Comstock are the same person, yet you don't have his memories.

Spoiler tag didn't work on that picture, heavy..

Valmorian wrote:
benu302000 wrote:
Spoiler:

They establish that when you go from one universe to another, your memories merge somehow. This would explain why the new Booker has all of the memories and "progress" of the old one.

That would be all very good, except for one MASSIVE glaring problem:

Spoiler:

You and Comstock are the same person, yet you don't have his memories.

Spoiler:

That would be a plot hole then (and there's bound to be a few of those in a story of this complexity). The story goes out of it's way, several times, to point out that when people are taken from one universe to the next, they remember both sets of memories at the same time. That's why when Elizabeth jumps you from one universe to another in the story, all of the dead soldiers who were in her AOE are standing around, dazed, with their noses bleeding. They remember being dead, and not being dead at the same time. I don't argue that this is not perfectly or universally applied throughout the story, but I think there's enough instances of it happening to be able to say it's fully a legitimate explanation for what exactly is happening when you get killed, and are suddenly back in Booker's office, open the door, and are transported, more or less to where you were standing before (not exactly, because spawning back in to the middle of an active fire fight would be bad game design)

I should hasten to add, that most of the time when Booker is talking to Comstock, his nose does bleed, which I think fits more or less.

benu302000 wrote:
Spoiler:

That would be a plot hole then (and there's bound to be a few of those in a story of this complexity). The story goes out of it's way, several times, to point out that when people are taken from one universe to the next, they remember both sets of memories at the same time. That's why when Elizabeth jumps you from one universe to another in the story, all of the dead soldiers who were in her AOE are standing around, dazed, with their noses bleeding.

Again, this isn't an isolated thing:

Spoiler:

Why doesn't Elizabeth have her memories from the new Vox reality? If Booker exists in the Vox reality and he has his alternate's memories, then what about the Booker from the NEXT reality they go to? Why is there no alternate Booker there to have his memories merged with?

At this point, any justification starts going the "Star Trek rationalization" route. If you twist things enough, you can justify it, but it's not really necessary. The alternative is also quite simple: It looks cool.

rabbit wrote:

This is the smartest thing I've read yet, and I TOTALLY hadn't thought of this:

Spoiler:
benu302000 wrote:

This also gives a creepy bent to the situation where Booker dies when Elizabeth is not around, and suddenly you're standing in front a gray door. Booker is dead, and the Luteces are fetching a new one to throw into the fray.

[spoiler]Did we not discuss this? I totally thought we did and kind of took this as a given when I reached the end (and had been thinking it was all some brain trip Matrix or Alice in Wonderland style before the end).

My favorite bit of evidence that you are the last in a long line of attempts, though, was the sandwich board for heads or tails, though it also raises the question of how many different worlds have they tried this in? IT couldn't all be happening in the same Columbia or that place would have long ago been abandoned as a war zone.

Valmorian wrote:
benu302000 wrote:
Spoiler:

That would be a plot hole then (and there's bound to be a few of those in a story of this complexity). The story goes out of it's way, several times, to point out that when people are taken from one universe to the next, they remember both sets of memories at the same time. That's why when Elizabeth jumps you from one universe to another in the story, all of the dead soldiers who were in her AOE are standing around, dazed, with their noses bleeding.

Again, this isn't an isolated thing:

Spoiler:

Why doesn't Elizabeth have her memories from the new Vox reality? If Booker exists in the Vox reality and he has his alternate's memories, then what about the Booker from the NEXT reality they go to? Why is there no alternate Booker there to have his memories merged with?

We can agree to disagree. I would, personally, chalk up the minor inconsistencies to the fact that the development team was human and had a game to ship.

benu302000 wrote:

We can agree to disagree. I would, personally, chalk up the minor inconsistencies to the fact that the development team was human and had a game to ship.

Sure, though I would point out that

Spoiler:

Booker and Comstock being the same person yet not sharing their memories is a lot more than a MINOR inconsistency, since it's the main revelation in the game, and the concept that alternate selves share memories seems to be rather vital to the plot as well. It's more along the lines of a major catastrophic goof-up that is ignored because it's inconvenient to the plot.

Valmorian wrote:

Sure, though I would point out that

Spoiler:

Booker and Comstock being the same person yet not sharing their memories is a lot more than a MINOR inconsistency, since it's the main revelation in the game, and the concept that alternate selves share memories seems to be rather vital to the plot as well. It's more along the lines of a major catastrophic goof-up that is ignored because it's inconvenient to the plot.

Spoiler:

Could be, could be. I take some solace though, for there having been some reaction (nose bleeds, vision blurs) when Booker encounters Comstock for the first time. Maybe it's because Comstock is do divergent from Booker that they don't slam together as the same person. The dazed soldiers with nose bleeds did, maybe because except for a bullet in the head, they're very nearly the same person as their dead counterparts. Like you said, that starts to get into the realm of rationalization, but in a game like this, it's hard not to.

benu302000 wrote:
Spoiler:

The dazed soldiers with nose bleeds did, maybe because except for a bullet in the head, they're very nearly the same person as their dead counterparts. Like you said, that starts to get into the realm of rationalization, but in a game like this, it's hard not to.

Yeah, the worst thing about those soldiers?

Spoiler:

Why are they having divergent memories? If Booker and Elizabeth have travelled TO that reality, there's no alternate versions of those soldiers to merge into. If Elizabeth is merging both realities together, then why are they the only ones affected? (I killed a hell of a lot more guys than those few outside).

Valmorian wrote:

Yeah, the worst thing about those soldiers?

Spoiler:

Why are they having divergent memories? If Booker and Elizabeth have travelled TO that reality, there's no alternate versions of those soldiers to merge into. If Elizabeth is merging both realities together, then why are they the only ones affected? (I killed a hell of a lot more guys than those few outside).

Spoiler:

There's no way to know this for sure, but I think when she does her *skip*, the area of effect is larger than just the room you're in. it might include the entire building or immediate area.

benu302000 wrote:
Spoiler:

There's no way to know this for sure, but I think when she does her *skip*, the area of effect is larger than just the room you're in. it might include the entire building or immediate area.

Heh, could do this forever with all the loopholes in this game, but here:

Spoiler:

Why is Chen Lin in the new world affected, then, since the live Chen Lin is nowhere near Elizabeth when they go to that world?

Redemption? Really? I saw no redemption in the story, just a kind of nihilism.

Spoiler:

How is Booker redeemed at all? He is killed for a decision he either did not make yet or that he already made.

How is Elizabeth redeemed? She becomes even more coldly calculating towards the end and does the same thing she killed Fitzroy for doing.

In the end it is more about justice and mercy. If you want justice you will not get mercy, to put it too succinctly.

Valmorian wrote:

Again, this isn't an isolated thing:

Spoiler:

Why doesn't Elizabeth have her memories from the new Vox reality? If Booker exists in the Vox reality and he has his alternate's memories, then what about the Booker from the NEXT reality they go to? Why is there no alternate Booker there to have his memories merged with?

At this point, any justification starts going the "Star Trek rationalization" route. If you twist things enough, you can justify it, but it's not really necessary. The alternative is also quite simple: It looks cool.

Spoiler:

I was under a distinct impression that she stood outside of the normal rules anyway. This just seems like simple logic to me-- if she can already bend the rules to begin with, why would one assume she herself has to follow those rules? Further, she did, in the end, gain all of the memories and knowledge of all the other versions of her. She said herself, she could see what was behind EVERY door. How else could she do that unless she also merged with the other hers?

Otherwise, my thoughts on that particular aspect can be found here, as Valmorian and I have already had some discussion on the matter. SPOILER WARNING, of course.

kuddles wrote:
Valmorian wrote:

Touche! And yet, all we've done there is increase the number of possible endings.. they're all still fixed, though.

Also, let's be honest with ourselves. We always said the ending we got didn't count and reverted back until we made the choices that would lead to the ideal one on the last page. :)

Yep. If there were a "good" ending, we'd all have reloaded until we achieved that version of the story.

rabbit wrote:
KaterinLHC wrote:

The one truth of all fiction is this: We have the power to move our own lives forward.

I think Camus, Chuck Palahniuk, Nietzsche, Kafka, Vonnegut, Heller, Albee, and Sartre would disagree with that statement. You may not particularly *like* absurdist/existentialist/nihilist fiction, but to pretend it doesn't exist seems odd.

And Sophocles. What Lara is objecting to is what's at the heart of tragedy in Western canon. That heart was also relegated to morality tales for the better part of two millennia, though, as it tends not to jive with humanist notions that we can, through force of intellect and will, strive against the gods and subvert fate. For the most part, we've gone with stories where the hero (yeah, generally a while male between 20 and 40) can and even ought to win.

But Bombsfall and Sleipnir got into that, too. I'm just ... trying to round things out?

Really, I wish I had organized a huge GWJ writers event where we all talked about it in type. I think that could have been awesome, and I am filled with regret that I can't go to some alternate dimension where I had my act together.

Anyway, Dorkmaster shares my views on the infinities stuff as it relates to the game's design and BS1. Even the "open" areas of the game are shot through with being on-rails and going in circles.

Blammo72 wrote:

Dont you all think the part of religion was a bit forced into the story?

I think that if you're going to talk about remorse and possibility within the context of American exceptionalism, it's hard not to have the Great Awakenings play some role in that. They play a huge part in North American protestantism and populism.

What I'm saying is that we have a lot of smart people in here and I love that, but I also wish I'd had the foresight and wherewithal to get some of this fascinating discussion up in OPs.

Valmorian wrote:

An interesting criticism of Bioshock Infinite that I think really exposes its weak points:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJ2cS...

In particular,

Spoiler:

I was a bit struck by the point that while Booker is supposedly incredibly crushed and remorseful over his actions at wounded knee, he spends most of this game casually slaughtering hundreds of people, even brutally executing them.

And that's the weakest part of the whole game. Which is a problem, since it's the most game-like part of the game.

Spoiler:

Clearly he's not that remorseful. Or maybe I should say repentant. The first time he's attacked, he doesn't just defend himself, he brutally murders a man with a sky hook to the face. Actions speak louder than words. A man who completely gave up on violence would make this a very different and shorter game. It'd also completely change the story because Comstock doesn't really change and lose his taste for violence either. He just gets set on a different path.

When you believe you are a monster, you will tend to behave like a monster.

In this case, "monster" could also be "videogame protagonist." Six of one, half a dozen of the other.

Also, let's be honest with ourselves. We always said the ending we got didn't count and reverted back until we made the choices that would lead to the ideal one on the last page.

I actually had two playthroughs of Mass Effect for this exact reason: I had Big Dumb Paragon Shepard that had no idea what would happen later, and just made the best decisions he could, given what he knew.

Then I had Smart Renegade FemShep, who was eerily prescient in her decision-making throughout.

So when I finished ME3 the first time, I hated it. But I figured that it was because it was Big Dumb Shepard. I started replaying with FemShep, and started reading online, only to find out that Dumb and Smart Shepard both end up in the exact same place, with the exact same choices, and that nothing you did in the game really mattered.

I dropped it there, and haven't played it since.

If we had multiple endings in Bioshock, I'd have explored most or all of them, but the 'canon' one for me would have been the first playthrough. Subsequent ones would be wish fulfillment playthroughs, never quite as real as the "truth".

Malor wrote:

nothing you did in the game really mattered.

So I have thoughts about this sort of thing, in various games.

1) If there's no systematized difference at the end, does that mean nothing really mattered?

2) Is it valid for players to not be able to change the fate of the universe, but still be asked to make decisions with shorter-range ramifications?

For BSI in particular: Given an infinite number of Bookers and players, if all games were interconnected, would not the end result have been an inevitability?

1) If there's no systematized difference at the end, does that mean nothing really mattered?

Well, even navigating whatever possibility space has been created, you can argue that 'nothing matters' because it's all been pre-scripted. But it has the same basic impact on me that the Choose Your Own Adventure books did; my particular playthrough was unique, and given the really long series in at least that one set of White Wolf books, it might be that most longer playthroughs eventually become unique. You will usually miss many things in each book on each playthrough, and the outcome of each book could vary quite wildly, from total failure to resounding success. That was a good mechanic, and it's still a good mechanic in electronic form.

Now, imagine how people would have reacted to the White Wolf books if, at the end of the series, you had a final set of three choices that could only result in three endings, period, none of which had anything to do with anything else you'd encountered along the way, and were not influenced in any way by your stats or what you'd found or what path you'd traversed to get there, and all the choices were deeply unpleasant in some way, even the putatively 'good' option. People would have been pretty pissed off about that. Why did they even bother keeping track of all that stuff when none of it made any difference?

B:I isn't as frustrating and disappointing as those games; it's more an on-rails story, where you're just going and doing things because that's all that's allowed. You don't really have choice, and the game even kind of rubs that in. That's an okay mechanism, if you aren't pounding into players' heads that Everything You Choose Matters.

My particular gripe is that the story was remarkably unfulfilling; anything could have happened at the end, with a rationale every bit as valid. Nothing that happened in the game led to that specific conclusion in any particular way. There was no real reason for anything to have happened, no particular connection between the story and the outcome. That's why the game vaguely reminds me of Mass Effect. It was a neat journey, I suppose, but if the destination sucks, it really casts a pall on the journey, yanno?

2) Is it valid for players to not be able to change the fate of the universe, but still be asked to make decisions with shorter-range ramifications?

Well, it's valid in the sense that it can be done, as it was in Mass Effect. But, while perfectly valid, it was very stupid to do that in a game that was supposed to be about choice.

For BSI in particular: Given an infinite number of Bookers and players, if all games were interconnected, would not the end result have been an inevitability?

I can't parse that question. I recognize the words, but the ideas are coming out as nonsense; if all games were interconnected? What? How would that happen, and why would it matter? And this undefined... thing... whatever it is, would have forced some kind of conclusion?

I just can't make heads or tails of that question. I feel like you just asked me about purple giraffes changing lightbulbs, and what the inevitable outcome would be on rice production in China.

Spoiler:

Those other Booker-Elizabeth couples wandering around outside the lighthouses, if infinite, would ultimately result in at least one instance where they went back and killed Booker at the baptism, right?

Sorry, I got ahead of the conversation by linking other universes to other players' games.

Well, it's valid in the sense that it can be done, as it was in Mass Effect. But, while perfectly valid, it was very stupid to do that in a game that was supposed to be about choice.

I offer to you that choices might still matter even if they don't result in changed circumstances at a broader level. I think this is a particular problem that narrative-based games run into, as they both offer a notion of choice and volition while still restraining those choices and the potential ramifications of those choices.

Malor wrote:

So when I finished ME3 the first time, I hated it. But I figured that it was because it was Big Dumb Shepard. I started replaying with FemShep, and started reading online, only to find out that Dumb and Smart Shepard both end up in the exact same place, with the exact same choices, and that nothing you did in the game really mattered.

I don't buy that criticism of the Mass Effect 3 ending at all. Just because all playthroughs end in the same event, doesn't mean its meaning is fixed. Changing the context changes the meaning of the event too.

Mass Effect spoilers:

Spoiler:

Well, they tried to retcon it with that new ending, but in the original versions, in all three ME endings, the inhabited universe gets vaporized.

We know that a simple rock that hits a relay will wipe out the star system it's in. So then they build the most powerful weapon ever to exist, one that's repeatedly stressed as being of titanic-scale power, completely off the charts compared with anything humans have ever seen, and they fire that weapon directly into that relay network.

That is going to be a cataclysmic event; not much intelligent life in the Galaxy would survive.

They claimed otherwise, in the retcon, but it was garbage. They broke my belief in their universe completely, just left it in tiny shards on the floor, and there's no possible way they can restore it.

I know they're pulling that sh*t out of their ass, and I don't buy it.

I don't believe that attempts to change the ending necessarily soil what the ending was.

Malor wrote:

Mass Effect spoilers:

Spoiler:

Well, they tried to retcon it with that new ending, but in the original versions, in all three ME endings, the inhabited universe gets vaporized.

We know that a simple rock that hits a relay will wipe out the star system it's in. So then they build the most powerful weapon ever to exist, one that's repeatedly stressed as being of titanic-scale power, completely off the charts compared with anything humans have ever seen, and they fire that weapon directly into that relay network.

That is going to be a cataclysmic event; not much intelligent life in the Galaxy would survive.

They claimed otherwise, in the retcon, but it was garbage. They broke my belief in their universe completely, just left it in tiny shards on the floor, and there's no possible way they can restore it.

I know they're pulling that sh*t out of their ass, and I don't buy it.

Spoiler:

Considering that awful Stargazer scene and the fact that a new Mass Effect game was being planned, I genuinely believe that they never intended that interpretation, but that it was some combination of bad presentation and not fully considering the implications.

wordsmythe wrote:

I don't believe that attempts to change the ending necessarily soil what the ending was.

Oh, they broke my belief in their universe completely in that last ten minutes. It was obvious at that point that they never really knew where they were going, that they were just making everything up as they went, like Lost. It was never a real place, there was never a real rules system, it was all bullsh*t, all the time.

The retconning just made that even more obvious.

B:I reminds me of that a lot. I find it much less frustrating, nowhere near the epic-scale failure of the ME storyline, but it's fairly similar in that there was never any coherent reality underneath what was going on, no rules system that Levine had to follow.

Spoiler:

After a certain stage in the story, anything could happen, and there was no particular reason why any particular happening would be more or less likely. All logic was broken, all ability to predict anything was broken, it was just off the rails completely.

Oh, they broke my belief in their universe completely in that last ten minutes.

Broke your belief, or just made you not want to believe it anymore because it didn't go a way you wanted?