Any ideology, taken to an extreme, justifies evil.
Both triple-A giant BioShock Infinite and indie darling Gray make this political point, in remarkably similar ways:
The False Ally
One hallmark of the BioShock franchise is that ideologies are symbolized through characters. This allows normally complex concepts to be easily understood by just about anyone.
When you begin BioShock Infinite, you’re introduced to American Exceptionalism through the character of Zachary Comstock. He’s a religious zealot, vicious racist and murderer. So yeah, pretty obviously the bad guy.
Your ally is Daisy Fitzroy, a rebel leader fighting for racial equality. You absolutely sympathize with her cause; you’ve seen first-hand the brutal reality she wants to change.
The real kicker is that about halfway through the game, you succeed. She ends up getting put in charge.
And guess what? She turns out to be an anarchist zealot, vicious classist and murderer. So yeah, pretty obviously also the bad guy.
Gray abstracts the same plot device. You’re helping one faction by converting people to your side. Once you’ve succeeded, suddenly you switch color and now you’re in the minority again.
Both games want to make you feel burned. They force you to think, “Why didn’t I consider what would happen if my side was unopposed?”
Both games feature a protagonist with no strong ideological leanings. Which side you’re helping at the moment depends on your personal goal.
In Gray, you want peace. But you can never win. After switching sides enough times, you become transparent and nobody will listen to you.
The game is saying, “Even though staying in the middle is the only sane choice, you can’t realistically accomplish anything unless you pick a side.” It’s a bit of a downer.
In BioShock Infinite, you want redemption. And through the process of becoming a better person, you end up making the world a better place.
[BioShock Infinite on Amazon]
[Gray on Intuition Games]