BioShock is one of the only video game series that is filled with true wonder and mystery. Each installment has thrived on its ability to present extraordinary things with such nuanced and subdued storytelling. These games often let the atmosphere fill in the blanks in your mind as well as the amazing story and many audio diaries hidden throughout the game.
The first two BioShock games had enough audio diaries and solid world-building to give us players a somewhat firm grip of the game's setting: the underwater city of Rapture. We know its rise and fall, the doomed visionary that was Andrew Ryan, and its many twisted inhabitants. However, some players still felt that there is still some mystery left floating somewhere in its watery depths. BioShock Infinite confirmed this by flipping the series on its head in both literal and figurative ways. Not only did the setting change from underwater Rapture to flying Columbia, but it also presented an infinite amount of possibilities. Burial at Sea, Infinite’s downloadable content, presented an alternate version of Rapture that retained its mystery while also hiding many secrets of its own.
While there are plenty of narrative secrets to sink your Big Daddy drill into, this list will also be covering easter eggs. While many of these hidden things relate to the world, others have served as hilarious references and generally awesome secrets waiting to be unraveled. Before reading about these eye-opening secrets, remember this cardinal quote from BioShock Infinite: “there is always a lighthouse, a man, and a city.” In our case, there is always a secret waiting to be uncovered in this endlessly fascinating series. Beware of potential spoilers.
25 BioShock: Hidden Message Found 10 Years After Release
This hidden message was finally uncovered in 2018, 10 years after BioShock’s release. As explained by a 4chan user, these are the instructions to trigger the message: “In BioShock 1, go to the second half of Hephaestus where you first encounter Ryan in person.
“Turn on Art Captions and you’ll see a developer message about Paul Hellquist not doing his job.”
Use Incinerate to get you down to 1 HP, then use it again on the area where the cutscene triggers and walk into it. You’ll wind up in a Vita Chamber outside the map.”
24 BioShock Infinite: Hidden Music
During some areas like The Fraternal Order, ambient noise can be heard. Normal, right? Well, some players inadvertently found a secret song once they sped up the audio/video considerably. Once the track is sped up by 800% to 1000%, singing and an acoustic guitar can be heard.
This was confirmed to be intentional by audio director Pat Balthrop.
Although not definite, the lyrics are generally regarded as “And time, time for me to drown, to live. Oh, finally time will catch up to me.” If you know the ending of Infinite, this secret should serve as a stupendous example of foreshadowing.
23 BioShock 2: Plane Wreckage
During the opening level of the superb BioShock 2, a part of a familiar plane can be seen. The Apollo Air Flight DF-0301's tail can be seen in the open area of Adonis Luxury Resort. Considering the game is set 8 years after the original, the part of the aircraft can be seen rusty and stuck between some rocks. You can later hear splicers heralding the plane crash as a holy event. The secret is a nice little detail that many players (myself included) did not notice.
22 BioShock 2: Paintings Of BioShock Moments
There are more visual reminders of what transpired in the original game. While in the area of Siren Valley, there are paintings near Sofia Lamb’s cathedral with familiar subjects. One of the paintings depicts the plane crash in all its fiery glory. Another is a twisted painting of mad doctor J.S. Steinman and his subjects on crosses. Finally, the weirdest painting is of the moment where Jack injects his first plasmid. These painting will send shivers down your spine because it is a reminder that everything you did in the first game was planned and observed.
21 BioShock Infinite: Original Elizabeth Outfit
In the early build, Elizabeth wore a corset with a well-rounded design except for one detail that garnered criticism: the chest. After the backlash against this outfit, it was scrapped for the game in favor of the iconic and appropriate outfit we know today. This version of Elizabeth also boasts a more wild haircut.
The biggest change to Elizabeth, however, came when the developers decided not to make her mute.
In the final game, a much later scene shows Elizabeth’s old outfit in all its glory, when multiple versions of Elizabeth go after Booker during the end.
20 BioShock 2: Familiar Wrenches
The events of the first game still haunt the next one in both big and small ways; the latter of which comes in the form of wrenches. In the original, protagonist Jack used wrenches as his main melee weapon. In both BioShock 2 and Infinite, we can see these tools scattered throughout areas.
The wrench is a reference to creator Ken Levine's first major project with Irrational Games.
In terms of design, they bear a close resemblance to the iconic weapon. Although they are purely aesthetic and not obtainable, their inclusion is a reminder of the first game’s legacy.
19 BioShock 2: A Cat Frozen In Ice
In the Dionysus Park level, you will come across a frozen gallery. Here, you can find a cat frozen in a block of ice. The name tag reveals the feline to be called “Schrödinger.”
Quantum Mechanics would play an integral part in BioShock Infinite.
The cat is a reference to a thought experiment conducted by renowned physicist Edwin Schrödinger that proposed whether a cat would survive or perish to a 50/50 probability scenario. If you use an Incinerate plasmid, the cat can be seen still frozen but seemingly neither alive nor perished.
18 BioShock 2: 'Unstable Teleport Plasmid'
During the Fontaine Futuristics level, go to the marketing department to find a multi-colored tonic sitting on a desk. Once you press the use button, the tonic will teleport to another location. Once it is located and touched several more times, a short sequence will happen where the tonic will teleport the player to various rooms. You can then be treated to a few scenes involving the floating tonic chasing splicers. The last location shows the tonic on a pedestal with statues in worshipping positions. If touched one last time, the player will receive a Vending Expert 2 tonic.
17 BioShock Infinite: The First Sighting Of The Lutece Twins
During the same chapter as above, the player will eventually make their way to a scene where Booker is given a telegram sent from the Lutece twins. Shortly after, there is a telescope that can be used in the area. If the player is looking in the right space, they will spot the brother juggling and the sister watching while their signature theme song plays. Upon exiting the telescope, they will disappear. Many players must have felt much bemusement after seeing this eccentric pair for the first time (excluding the opening lighthouse scene).
16 BioShock Infinite: Backwards Messages
In the fairgrounds, there is a scene where Booker gains his first vigor. After a saleswoman gives him one, Booker starts to feel enamored by the vigor’s effects and hallucinates some ineligible sounds and a female phantom.
Perhaps the use of this verse symbolizes the possession vigor’s effects, considering how Romeo and Juliet perish in the play.
The ineligible sound is actually a line being spoken from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. “Give me my Romeo; and, when he shall [perish], take him and cut him out in little stars, and he will make the face of heaven so fine...”
15 BioShock Infinite: Baby Carriages And Ammo
One of the most iconic gameplay scenes from the original BioShock comes when you come across a splicer comforting something in a baby carriage. Once you had dealt with the enemy there was a glimmer of hope to see a baby, but all you find is a gun nestled inside.
When will BioShock characters learn where to sensibly pack their heat?
BioShock Infinite carried on this trope by including loaded baby carriages in Battleship Bay and Emporia, respectively. In the former, there is just pistol ammo while the latter includes a Hand Cannon.
14 BioShock: One Of The Only Easter Eggs
The first BioShock has many philosophical, historical, and biblical references. However, it is, unfortunately, light on Easter eggs. One of the only visual references, though, is a classic. In the Farmer’s Market, a round of wedged cheese can be seen on the ground followed by six circular bullet holes. If you are familiar with the retro game Pac-Man, this represents the titular hero and his dot-eating habit. The cheese is not edible but this was a delicious secret that many players stumbled upon.
13 BioShock Infinite: Saltonstall
In the famous BioShock Infinite Gamescom demo released in 2010, the main villain is a Columbia politician by the name of Henry Saltonstall. Although cut in the final game in his physical form, Saltonstall is still mentioned as one of the major driving forces behind Columbia’s main political party, The Founders. Later on, you can see part of Saltonstall, alongside other Founder leaders, pinned to a board following the Vox Populi’s uprising. Still, many players would have loved to go toe-to-toe against this overzealous and unsettling politician.
12 All Games: 0451 Code
0451 is a famous key-code that has been used in many games. The set of numbers was initially seen as a reference to the book Fahrenheit 451 but was revealed to have a much simpler origin. Deus Ex director Warren Spector stated it was the code to access Looking Glass Studios. This is the same team that brought us System Shock, BioShock’s spiritual predecessor. Series creator and visionary Ken Levine worked on the sequel. As a result, all BioShock games include the code.
11 BioShock Infinite: Rapture Records
In chapter 33, The Atrium, you are required to go to a warden’s office. In this room, you can find a record player with the label reading ‘Rapture Records.’ This is the first visual hint that Rapture and Columbine may exist in the same universe.
Hearing Sander Cohen's music while walking the streets of Columbia would be extremely unsettling...
Other hints came before in the form of Voxophones where villain Jeremiah Fink described his findings from tear-ripping into alternate dimensions. Could this mean that Fink’s brother Albert was stealing music from Sander Cohen by also using tears?
10 BioShock: A Familiarly Titled Poster
In Rapture Records, you can spot a poster with a familiar name to a certain mechanical bird. After you fought Silas Cobb, go to the vinyl store and the poster-of-interest will have the name tag of ‘Song Bird.’ It is interesting to see the two words in the first game. Still, if the picture was not important, why does it have its own name tag? The actual poster is very damaged so the subject cannot be realized so we will never know if Songbird was conceived during BioShock’s development.
9 All Games: Songbird Sounds
We all know Songbird’s signature wailing sound, right? Well, that ominous shriek can be heard throughout all games. You can hear those very same sounds as ambient noise for a few areas. BioShock and Infinite have a seemingly crazy connection linked between two separate scenes.
During the infamous Sander Cohen piano scene, Songbird’s sound can be heard.
In the last game, during the visit to Rapture, Songbird can be heard making the exact same sound. To top it all off, Booker and Elizabeth entered Rapture in the same year as the original: 1960.
8 BioShock Infinite: A Secret Big Daddy
During the same Rapture scene, a tragedy occurs. While Booker and Elizabeth are teleported inside Rapture, Songbird ends up in the ocean. He slowly drowns while Elizabeth watches. After our favorite avian robot is fully sunk, you can spot something similarly sad in the distance. In a tube platform, a Little Sister is mourning over a lifeless Big Daddy. This secret was consciously included for narrative reasons. This is because it closely parallels the relationship between Elizabeth and Songbird. These guys would later be fully included in the Burial At Sea downloadable content.
7 BioShock: Security Camera Footage Of Jack
An overwhelming twist in BioShock comes when you come across Andrew Ryan’s office where he has accumulated evidence that Atlas is using Jack as his puppet. Players are given the opportunity to piece together the pieces by exploring the board, many of whom missed some vital info on the table below the board.
This reveal is still one of the best twists in the video game medium, period.
Here, you can finally see your protagonist in the flesh through security camera footage. There is also some other important photos of Jack’s “family” and his “home” on the farm.
6 BioShock Infinite: Mechanical Crab
There is a series on YouTube called Boundary Break where the host tries to find secrets to some amazing games. He does this by using specialist tools to hack the game and take the camera anywhere he wants. In his episode covering BioShock Infinite, he uncovers a peculiar element hidden away during the opening lighthouse section. It is a strange, robotic crab that is still and out-of-bounds to the player. Most figure this has something to do with the scrapped enemy ‘Claw Daddy’ which was going to be a mechanical enemy with a design pertaining to a crab.
5 BioShock: A Clue To The Twist
The only supposed friendly presence in BioShock was Atlas, the revolutionary who was helping Jack escape Rapture. He invoked sympathy by telling the player that he was looking to reunite with his wife and son. Their names are Patrick and Moira.
Come to think of it, why didn’t Atlas come up with more original names?
However, if you are in the Fleet Hall section of the game, you can find a poster for a Sander Cohen stage production with two familiar names as the title. Yes, Patrick and Moira. This is the first clue to Atlas’ true identity.
4 BioShock Infinite: "Is It Someone New?"
In the chapter Welcome Center, you will come across a group of believers and a blind preacher. Upon entering a baptism circle, the preacher will ask “Is it someone new?” after hearing your footsteps. This is the same phrase the first splicer said when you arrived in Rapture. The splicer is also blind in one eye, which makes this scene similar in more ways than one. This phrase is an effective parallel to the first game and hints at a similarly eerie atmosphere that Infinite conveys so well.
3 BioShock Infinite: A Famous Movie At The Theater
During Booker’s discovery of Elizabeth, we get to see her interdimensional tear-shifting powers in action. She opens a tear into Paris which reveals the Eiffel Tower and a theater. The headline showing at the theater reads La Revanche Du Jedi which is French for Revenge of the Jedi. Star Wars director George Lucas changed the word Revenge to Return in the title for worldwide release. This means that the tear entered a parallel universe where the title did not change. As Elizabeth explained, these infinite universes are differentiated by “constants and variables.”
2 BioShock: Splicers And Movie Quotes
Fighting splicers is consistently unsettling so these references add a delightful mix to the horror. One funny line is delivered with, admittedly, shrieks of pain. If you use the ‘Insect Swarm’ on a splicer they will shout “Not the bees! Not the bees!” This is a reference to the infamous scene from the remake of The Wicker Man starring Nicolas Cage. Another quote is from another film, The Exorcist. Wader splicers often announce “The power of Christ compels you!” This line creates the opposite effect against the former reference by making the game even creepier.
1 BioShock Infinite: Reference To The Delays
Based in Battleship Bay, the game room offers all different games for citizens of Columbia to enjoy. Once you enter this place, Elizabeth will be ecstatic when she sees a certain mechanical game called Duke and Dimwit. She mentions that it is the newest one in the series and that the game “was delayed three times.”
Let us hope that the next BioShock comes out without the blockades that have plagued the series. We will have to simply wait in eager anticipation. This is a direct reference to BioShock Infinite’s triple delay record and the hype surrounding its release.