The demo is out now, the game is out tomorrow, and everyone loves it. More than one reviewer has indicated that they consider it art, i.e. more grist for the “can games be art?” “debate” (it’s only a debate because Ebert is racist against games). Tycho vows to buy an extra copy “exclusively to shove up Roger Ebert’s ass. If Bioshock isn’t “art,” then art is the poorer for it.” Well said.
I’m not sure emotional power is enough to make something art; there tend to be a lot of other checkboxes to tick such as complexity and (practically, cynically speaking) acceptance in the canon. But Bioshock certainly has it, judging by the demo, which presents a failed society, an underwater Xanadu, peopled with lonely madmen and with cracks forming everywhere.
If a game is primarily about exploring space, you could hardly find a more menacingly beautiful space than this. It’s great to see a game referencing things outside the medium that aren’t the usual space and/or monster cliches, such as art deco design and, say, Citizen Kane.
I’ll be buying this fer sure and giving it a good workout, time permitting.