There's a lot going on in "Burial at Sea — Episode Two," the last installment of "BioShock" from creators Irrational Games. The multiverse established at the end of "BioShock Infinite" and the shock cliffhanger to "Episode One" combined to leave many players wondering just what fresh hell had washed over the underwater city of Rapture.
So it's understandable if you don't notice "BioShock" becoming a stealth game before your very eyes.
In "Episode Two," you play for the first time as Elizabeth, long the companion to lead "Infinite" character Booker DeWitt. So you take more damage. You carry less ammo. And to top it all off, you're suddenly stripped of Elizabeth's supernatural abilities — namely the one that allows her to summon aid from staticky samurai and walking gun turrets through tears in the space-time continuum.
What she can do, though, is use the new Peeping Tom plasmid to turn invisible for a limited time and monitor enemy movements through walls. That, a nifty tranquilizer crossbow and the ability to silently drop from grapple points and stealth-kill Splicers makes her another kind of menace — one that demands plotting and patience where Booker demanded more bullets. But he always had Elizabeth to toss them.
Sure, she can scrap. She has a pistol and shotgun, as well as the radar range introduced in "Episode One" that allows you to turn enemies into human bombs. But it's just more fun to sneak. In fact, it's more fun than the bulk of "Infinite."
Playing as Elizabeth makes "Episode Two" an entirely different experience from not only "Infinite," but the prior two Rapture-set "BioShock" games. It's more like "Dishonored," right down to the lock-picking mini-games. But there's still a spiritual resemblance there: Irrational head Ken Levine co-wrote and co-designed "Dishonored's" single biggest source of inspiration, 1998's "Thief."
Different as they are from "Episode Two," "Infinite" and the first "BioShock" are crucial to understanding the story of this newest installment. What's revelatory to players who are familiar with the series could prompt just another puzzled glare from those who aren't.
Elizabeth's quest to rescue the kidnapped Little Sister Sally doesn't just criss-cross Rapture and "Infinite's" cloud city of Columbia, it's entangled in enough lore and metaphysics to become an impenetrable mystery without a companion wiki — or at least a replay. At least this chapter is worth one.