BioShock: Challenge Room DLC (Review)

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I recently finished my playthrough of BioShock via “BioShock: The Collection” (you can find my review of the first game here), so naturally I moved on to its singular piece of DLC, the aptly named “Challenge Room”.

As the name suggests, these rooms are not for the faint of heart.
There’s only three of them, but they’re designed to put your mastery of BioShock and its mechanics to the test. Each challenge has a different goal, utilizes different weapon/ability loadouts, and manages to use some of the mechanics from the base game in surprising new ways.

The first challenge, titled “The I in Team”, tasks the player with maneuvering through a brutal gauntlet to rescue a Little Sister from a Big Daddy. This is a scenario that happens countless times in the campaign, but this time around you’re restricted from using any weapons or damage inducing Plasmids. This is a particularly clever challenge, with a huge part of the answer relying on using an ability in a rather strange way. It teaches you how to do this peculiar method via the environment, which I found to be pretty neat.

I also found the size of the area for this challenge rather surprising. There’s multiple floors, rooms, obstacles, and hazards to navigate, resulting in a fun challenge that requires a bit of thinking.

Trophy/Achievement hunters are in for a wild ride.
While you have the standard “Complete the Challenge” trophy, the other ones are a little bit harder to obtain. Completing a speedrun with zero margin for error, finding collectible roses, and completing the challenge with one more restriction (which I’ll leave as a surprise) are the other accomplishments you’ll have to earn for that coveted 100%.

The second challenge of the DLC is titled “A Shocking Turn of Events” and it’s equally as challenging as the first, but in a different way. This challenge finds a Little Sister stuck on the top of a Ferris wheel. How, or why, she’s up there are not questions I have answers to, but I can tell you that this challenge is a whole lot of fun. You start on the upper floor of a large room with no weapons or Plasmids, with the goal being to reach the bottom floor to activate the controls to bring the top cart of the Ferris wheel (which houses the Little Sister) down to the ground floor.

Along the way are a few tools to help.
You see, in order to activate the controls and lower the cart, you have to charge the controls with electricity. This would be an easy feat if given access to the Electrobolt Plasmid, but what would be the fun in that? Instead, you have to scour the environment to find alternative sources to charge the controls. However, they won’t work on just one charge, so you have to find six ways to get the Ferris wheel up and running. One or two of them are easy enough to figure out, but you’ll need to get creative and fully scavenge the area to fully charge the controls.

Similar to “The I in Team”, there’s multiple Trophies/Achievements to earn in this challenge too. As you’ll see in the third and final challenge, the trophies all tend to be similar. Find the collectible roses, complete the challenge under a certain time, and then one unique accomplishment.  It would have been nice to see a little more variety in the Trophies/Achievements for this DLC, but the ones presented are fine, adding another layer of challenge.

Last, but certainly not least, is my favorite challenge, “Worlds of Hurt”.
Like the preceding challenges, this one finds yet another Little Sister in need of rescue. This time, she’s stuck in a giant glass prison in the middle of a large circular room. To release her, you have to travel into each room along the perimeter and fight a wave of enemies. For the most part, each room focus on one type of enemy. Spider Splicers, Big Daddy’s, Houdini Splicers, and more all have their own little area to shine.

What’s awesome about this challenge is that it’s much more open than the other two. Unlike the previous challenges, you pretty much have full access to whatever weapons, Plasmids, and Tonics you desire. Sure, you have to buy them, but each room gives you a generous amount of money for completing it. With the exception of the first two rooms, you’re free to tackle them in any order you desire. Finding which enemy types you’re the best at fighting is surprisingly fun, and results in you putting together the best way to tackle the rooms. Another neat feature is that the challenge sees the return of the research camera, allowing you to uncover enemy weaknesses and gain damage bonuses against them.

The Trophies/Achievements for this challenge are mostly the same as the others, but the unique one in “Worlds of Hurt” is by far the hardest one in the bunch to unlock. It took me roughly two hours to get, but finally nabbing it granted me 100% completion for the Challenge Room DLC pack. Something I’m quite proud of.

FINAL VERDICT

The Challenge Room DLC for BioShock is satisfying.
For starters, it’s true to the name and delivers some pretty good challenges. It tests your knowledge of the mechanics from the campaign, but then shakes things up by making you think outside of the box and do things in new ways. It’s clever, for sure, but it never reaches a point of complete and utter frustration, which is wonderful. However, although I did have a great experience with it, I don’t feel that it’s a necessary play for everyone. This definitely feels like it’s for the die-hard BioShock fans who are looking to put their skills to the test, not the casual player. If you loved the game and want to take the challenge further, then by all means, play the Challenge Room DLC. If one playthrough of the original game was good enough for you, then I think you’ll be perfectly fine with passing on this one.

– Zack Burrows

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