Columbia, the skyward world of BioShock Infinite, is one of the most beautifully-designed worlds I've ever seen in a game. It's a happy place in the sky, surrounded by colorful landscapes, cheerful citizens, and beautiful (and anachronistic) music. However, the more of Columbia I discovered, the more twisted and ugly it became, warped by racial intolerance and total religious perversion. Discovering, and subsequently unraveling, this would-be utopia had me constantly searching for collectibles (like Voxophones), trying to piece more and more of the world together.
Beyond the world, Ken Levine's characters also had me hooked. Booker DeWitt's tale is genuinely fascinating. Through his eyes, you get a perfect window into the insanity of Columbia. And of course, there's Elizabeth, the mysterious force holding Columbia afloat. Love or hate the ending, there was no denying that the tale provoked deep, thoughtful conversations about what Columbia is, who these characters are, and the very nature of the universe.
BioShock Infinite isn't a perfect game, and its gameplay rarely aspires to be more than "good." But, Columbia is one of the best virtual vacation spots of 2013, with memorable characters and a mystery worth experiencing.
The Shacknews Best of 2013 Awards were determined by ballot voting across the entire Shacknews staff. Stay tuned all this week as we reveal all our winners.