The phenomenal retrofuturistic game from Bethesda Games has had various names attached to it – including Guillermo Del Toro. Now, it’s official that the adaptation of this iconic game will be helmed by Francis Lawrence. Bioshock will be produced by Netflix, with the release date still unknown.
Bioshock has been one of the most successful franchises in gaming history. The franchise, consisting of three titles (with a fourth one in the making), has sold over 37 million copies. Fans have praised the fascinating world of Bioshock and its combination of horror-set shooter mechanics with a fleshed-out story that guaranteed the game’s cult status.
Although the record of game adaptations still leans toward total misfires, there’s a faint light at the end of the tunnel for Bioshock. First, the game landed a director whose prolific career includes an ample range of blockbusters, genre films, and music videos. Francis Lawrence has directed, among others, I Am Legend (2007) and Constantine (2005) – two films that prove the Austrian filmmaker’s knack for horror chops.
Completing the dream team is Michael Green, writer of Logan (2017) and co-writer of Blade Runner 2049 (2017). Particularly the latter project gives hope because Denis Villeneuve’s unparalleled follow-up to the ultimate sci-fi classic by Ridley Scott remains an impeccable example of world-building and capturing what futuristic nihilism is all about.
Bioshock needs that kind of experience.
While it’s unclear which of the three parts the adaptation will cover, the story will probably start in Rapture – a beautifully haunting underwater city designed by a madman named Andrew Ryan.
The plot of the first chapter in the series follows a survivor of a plane crash who receives a mission to find Mr. Ryan and “kindly” gets rid of him. The mysterious man who navigates the protagonist Jack is Atlas – a voice that narrates most of the story.
Bioshock utilizes the jump scares from the first-person perspective. Players tackle hordes of Rapture citizens – horrid leftovers from the once-prosperous city. When wandering in the corridors of Rapture, one can also encounter tin can nautical monstrosities called Big Daddies and their tiny compañeros, Little Sisters. Though Big Daddies tend to be docile when assisting the Little Sisters, players may find themselves fighting against these giants when a bullet goes the wrong way.
Is Bioshock a horror, a sci-fi, or …?
There are numerous ways to approach Bioshock.
As mentioned earlier, Rupture is inhabited by creatures called Splicers. Formerly humans, Splicers could be considered as victims of genetic modifications that were both a testament to the brilliant mind of Ryan, as well as the ultimate nightmare he created.
Splicers are aggressive, and skilled in various combat styles – from using explosives to climbing on walls. Let your imagination work with an image of a monstrous humanoid that crouches on the ceiling before raging into a violent attack. Much of the city has also been heavily worn down or destroyed, and Bioshock’s ambient really sends shivers down the spine.
There’s a philosophical, sci-fi element to Bioshock too.
The game’s heavily inspired by George Orwell’s works and Fyodor Dostoievsky and Stanisław Lem. The society that once lived in Rupture has been modeled into a perfectly functioning one and benefitted from the brilliance of engineering innovations by Ryan industries. These innovations – fueled by a chemical substance called ADAM – altered human DNA to grant unique capabilities that often included elemental powers – such as the ability to incinerate, freeze or shock with electricity. ADAM works like a heavy drug, and Splicers are the remnants of Rapture’s population – addicts who have gone nuts.
That’s also how Jack grows more powerful and cunning in his nightmarish descent into the corridors and chambers of Rupture.
Players and fans have scratched their heads over the very idea of whether Rupture could exist in reality:
As well as assembled ambient mixes that soothe one’s soul thanks to the relaxing combination of hollow sounds of pipes and creaks from the vintage interiors of the city:
The film’s steampunk horror has a unique aesthetic, and it’s probably one nautical story that might break the spell of Underwater (2020).
A direct adaptation won’t cut it, for much of the game challenges players in inventive shootouts and combat encounters. Hopefully, Lawrence and Netflix will reach for the depth of Bioshock lore instead. The backstory of Andrew Ryan and the collapse of Rupture would constitute a riveting story worth a whole series.
However, let’s start with a movie first, right?