How BioShock Infinite’s Elizabeth Makes Her Mark
When I heard Booker DeWitt would always have the lovely and energetic Elizabeth at his side during BioShock Infinite, I was worried. Not because I didn't find Elizabeth magnetic (I did), but whenever you are tasked with escorting a character through danger, that companion can become a burden.
Often characters regulated to a role like Elizabeth's stand off to the side, while each encounter relies on your powers and skills. I can't tell you how many times I've just wanted to scream at characters, "A little help here?" The developers at Irrational Games read my mind, because Elizabeth is an asset in battle, not just some character standing on the sidelines afraid to get her hands dirty.
Elizabeth saved my life so many times in battle. Whether I was running low on ammo, health, or salts, she was always there to toss me the essential item. She also had her own unique powers with "tears," which are often just as important to a battle's success as your shooting skills. For instance, she could make a point of cover appear if I needed a place to recharge my shields. She also proved a worthy companion outside of battle, randomly finding money and tossing me a coin - it's expensive trying to get through Columbia alive. What I appreciated most about Elizabeth was that she wasn't whiney or paralyzed in the face of danger; instead she took charge and provided me what I needed.
Elizabeth also doesn't cling to you; she's never afraid to leave your side. As someone who has been locked away in a tower to be watched and experimented on for her entire life, she's eager to get out into the world and explore. When you walk around, she interacts with the Columbian citizens and constantly scans for new sights to see, like the Dimwit and Duke display (a propaganda puppet show) near Battleship Bay. She learns firsthand about Comstock's propaganda, and having her see the impact of the Prophet's rule adds an extra layer of depth to her tale. Elizabeth was never completely naïve, but her innocence gradually fades away in the face of what must be done to triumph over Comstock.
Moreover, I didn't help Elizabeth because I felt obligated to by the game; I actually wanted to, which is a testament to how well BioShock Infinite makes you connect with her character. Part of what makes Elizabeth an awesome companion is not only that she's your saving grace, but that you're building a bond with her throughout the journey. How Elizabeth opens up with deeper revelations as you progress is a highlight of the experience. When she finally discussed her deformed pinky, it felt intimate, like I had built my relationship with her to get her to that trust level. Creating a genuine bond is hard to come by these days in games; pacing matters, and revelations must hit at the right time.
Elizabeth could have just been another character in need of rescuing, but Irrational made her feel like a real person, not just a plot device to make the story function. She's a better companion for it, and one that I know will stick with me for some time.
Watch Game Informer editors discuss the ending of BioShock Infinite in Spoiled