Self-Rescuing Princess: Elizabeth
I have kicked around the idea of this column for a while. The typical tropes of women in video games has been something I’ve read about but I wanted to take a look at the strong, independent, dynamic female characters that exist. Sure, we all know about the damsel in distress (I’m looking at you, Princess Peach) and the skimpy armor that leaves all your vital organs vulnerable but lets face it; there are some female characters that exist that are pretty fucking rad.
With the release of Bioshock Infinite’s final DLC, Burial at Sea Part 2, I felt this was a good place to start. I love all the Bioshock games and bought the season pass for Infinite minutes after finishing the game because I didn’t want it to end. When I found out that Bioshock Infinite was essentially an escort quest that lasts the entire game, I was skeptical since escort quests usually send me into a rage because the NPC ends up doing some dumb shit and getting killed, which means starting over and well, that shit gets old quick. Yet Bioshock Infinite is an example of escorting done right, Elizabeth is not a pain in the ass, she’s actually useful! What a concept! Elizabeth is actually an interesting female character, and Booker NEEDS her. Elizabeth saved my ass so many times that I actually looked forward to when she would yell out to me, “Booker! Take this!” and I would be rescued from the verge of death because an NPC… that I was escorting. Mind blown.
This article isn’t about how Bioshock does escort missions right, but about Elizabeth herself. In the final installment of the DLC players get to play as Elizabeth. The mechanics of gameplay are slightly different to accommodate Elizabeth’s nature. She is not the hardened killer Booker is, she is still sweet but has matured a lot since being freed from the tower and will do what is necessary to get the job done. If somehow, you are unfamiliar with Bioshock Infinite; the protagonist, Booker Dewitt, is a former pinkerton who is given the task of retrieving a girl, Elizabeth, from Columbia, the city in the sky run by a weirdo nutjob named Comstock and that’s the spoiler-free version. Elizabeth has an ability to create tears in the fabric of space and time, which is used to gain access to items and such, and it is useful to the game play. Secondly, she picks open crucial locks and scavenges the area for useful supplies and tosses them to you in your moments of need. Lastly, she stays out of the way when the fighting starts, cannot die and you cannot even aim your gun at her without her getting snarky with you, while gracefully sidestepping out of your aim. I admit, as much as I love Elizabeth, I tried to shoot her, because I wanted to see what would happen and was not disappointed.
Elizabeth is an interesting character with a fucked up past, living in a tower and being experimented on by nutjob Comstock’s researchers. She’s intelligent yet naive, which makes sense because she’s been locked in a tower her whole goddamn life but she doesn’t take shit from anyone, including Booker. Yes Booker rescues her from the tower, but after that it’s not a matter of Booker protecting Elizabeth, they work together to get shit done.