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The game takes place during 1960 in Rapture, a fictional underwater city secretly built in 1946 on the mid-Atlantic seabed, entirely self-sufficient and powered by submarine volcanoes. Constructed by business magnate Andrew Ryan, Rapture was envisioned as the only place on Earth that could support individualism, and populated by those Ryan believed exemplified the best in humanity. During the early 1950s, this population peaked at several thousand, though ranks of elite emerged from the rest, discomforting many.

The discovery of "ADAM," stem cells created from a species of sea slug, by Dr. Bridgette Tennenbaum further upset the social balance. ADAM's prevalence greatly accelerated genetic engineering research, creating a plasmid industry that sold everything from a cure for male pattern baldness to abilities like telekinesis, with active types like the latter requiring a serum, "EVE." In order to improve ADAM yields, the "Little Sisters" were created, young girls with the slug embedded in their bodies. Although initially just ADAM "factories," during the war (see below) they were repurposed via mental conditioning to extract ADAM from the dead, and process it within themselves. The "Big Daddies," armed and highly-enhanced humans in diving suits, were simultaneously created to defend the Little Sisters as they worked.

For several years, Rapture was everything Ryan intended it to be - a paradise of freedom and wealth. But ultimately, the very reason it was created - Ryan's paranoia of various world authorities - caused the city's downfall. Strictly forbidding outside contact to keep Rapture a secret, a black market in smuggled goods arose, and former mobster Frank Fontaine came to dominate it. Unlike Ryan, Fontaine wanted more than wealth - he wanted control. And his wealth, combined with his monopoly on Tennenbaum's research, soon gained him enough power and followers to challenge Ryan for it.

In late 1958, Ryan lost patience with the conflict and apparently had Fontaine killed - an action that proved useless. Another figure, Atlas, took Fontaine's place as the leader of his opposition. On New Year's Eve that same year, Atlas and his ADAM-augmented followers started a riot between the lower and upper classes. This sparked off a civil war between Ryan and Atlas that eventually spread to all of Rapture, crippling the city. As the war progressed, Ryan began to betray his ideals. The advocate of reason and self-determination began using torture and mind control in his battle with Atlas. Eventually, he became so unreasonable that a number of his supporters began attempting to assassinate him. By the time the player enters Rapture, only the "Splicers," citizens with severe mental and physical problems caused by excessive ADAM use, are left, forever scavenging throughout the city. The remaining non-mutated humans have managed to barricade themselves in the few remaining undamaged areas.


Electro Bolt stun effect against living creatures and machines, medium damage if target(s) is in water
Winter Blast entangle effect against living creatures and machines in addition to medium damage
Incinerate! heavy damage, melts ice
Insect Swarm distracting effect with light damage
Cyclone Trap localized cyclones that launch enemies into the air for light damage
Enrage! make enemies fight each other
Target Dummy distracts enemies with another target
Security Bullseye paint enemies as targets for machines
Hypnotize Big Daddy control Big Daddies

Gene Tonics


Hacker's Delight regain health after a successful hack
EVE Link regain EVE with each medkit used
Medical Expert increases health regained with each medkit used
Security Evasion
Extra Nutrition
Booze Hound

Natural Camouflage


Security Expert
Hacking Expert
Focused Hacker
Alarm Expert
Shorten Alarms
Speedy Hacker
Clever Inventor
Prolific Inventor


Static Discharge
Wrench Jockey
Photographer's Eye
Frozen Field
Armored Shell
Human Inferno
Damage Research
Electric Flesh