Thoughts on the ending and such (with spoilers!)
I was surprised that I correctly predicted that Elizabeth was Booker’s daughter. Between his wife “not” giving birth and Comstock “not” being her father, it kind of led me to that idea – it was solidified when Comstock mentioned that Booker should know why she was missing part of her finger. Elizabeth’s actual name being Anna threw me off though – I had thought that was the name of Booker’s wife, but I’m assuming that that’s what the developers intended.
The whole “Booker is Comstock” thing makes sense, but… I don’t know, it felt like a really stupid twist to end the game with. Yes, there were details throughout the story that supported it, but it resulted in an extremely anticlimactic conclusion that was more meh than interesting. And Comstock and Booker being in the same universe doesn’t make sense, but that may just be the result of me missing some detail in the ending infodump sequence.
After thinking about it a bit more (and discussing it briefly with someone) the difference between Booker and Comstock was far too drastic – I can sort of see why it might have been done that way to prevent people from predicting the twist, but in the end it leaves Comstock’s actions seeming too unrealistic for Booker’s character. Booker and Comstock are supposed to be the same person up to a point (shortly after the Battle of Wounded Knee), but the point where they split sends Comstock’s character far from what the core of Booker’s character should be. The difference also seemed to result in Comstock hating Abraham Lincoln – in one building, there’s a statue of John Wilkes Booth, the man who assassinated Lincoln, along with a painting showing Lincoln with devil horns and Booth’s face glowing.
While a happy ending where Booker and Elizabeth go to Paris would be nice, it becomes obvious early on – when the dimension-hopping begins via Elizabeth’s tears – that such a black-and-white conclusion is out of the question. However, the actual ending seems way too complex for how straightforward the rest of the story was. The completely optional voxophones suggested that the inner workings of the plot were more complicated than they seemed, but the actual missions for the game were all go here, get this, find person A, defeat person B, etc. There was no choice to it, there were no “complicated” happenings besides going through tears, and even those resulted in annoyingly simple differences between the universes.
I really wish they had allowed the story to split at the points where Booker and Elizabeth entered the tears – you get the option to do so or to find another way, which would result in a different ending. This way, the “true ending” could remain as it is, filling in all of the blanks about Booker, Comstock, Elizabeth, and the Luteces, but other endings could provide a different solution to the problems – this wouldn’t have been remotely out of place in a game culminating in an ending requiring the multiverse theory. It would also improve the replay value of the game drastically and make even a single playthrough more appealing.
After discussion in the comments, I wanted to expand on something I should have included here.
The writer(s) of the story utilized the multiverse theory very lazily. According to the story, Booker dying would theoretically erase the potential for Comstock – but what about all of the other Bookers running around the lighthouse area? In time-travel this would work, but not in a multiverse. Some of them could potentially choose the baptism and become Comstock, and why is the Comstock route always a bad end? Why is there never a possibility for a good Comstock? The Booker you play as is only one of the possibilities, and there will always be the potential for him to survive beyond that point – that’s what the multiverse theory is all about.
Even if this was utilizing a typical time-travel theory, Elizabeth killing her own father before she was even born would result in a paradox and/or be impossible. I think the developers kind of shot themselves in the foot with this, but maybe that’s just me nitpicking a theory that requires a lot of handwaving in the first place. I really just feels like the writers didn’t care about how the multiverse theory actually works and wrote off all the issues with “constants and variables.”
So basically, Elizabeth’s insistence that all Comstocks must die and Booker’s acceptance of his death were my main issues with how everything ended after the reveal, as the lingering idea that it wouldn’t actually solve the issue remained.
I also heard that towards the end there’s some clue that the Elizabeth that Booker is with isn’t the same one as before, but I never noticed it. Supposedly, her brooch was supposed to be the opposite of the one you picked earlier in the game or something, but I never picked up on a change.
My feelings on the ending are generally the same as what I think about the end of Mirai Nikki / Future Diary – sure, the direction the endings took might make sense and have had a lot of clues leading to that situation, but that doesn’t make it a satisfying ending (granted, I hated Mirai Nikki far before the ending came).
So basically, I didn’t like the ending. It’s not because I wanted a happy ending or anything like that either, it’s simply because the developers threw in an infodump in the last half hour to fill in all of the blanks and then tied up the last issue with an extremely anticlimactic conclusion that would theoretically not even solve the problem that Elizabeth insisted would need to be taken care of in that manner. Obviously, if you look at the average rating on any site like Metacritic, you’ll see that my opinion deviates from the norm – so even though I had problems with it, a lot of the things I’ve mentioned aren’t issues for everyone. However, that does not mean that they are not legitimate problems.
All images were borrowed from IGN. In case you didn’t already realize that.