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Judas looks like Bioshock, but it gives big Mass Effect energy too

Echoing the RPG thrills of greats like Mass Effect, new PS5 and Xbox game Judas is set to build upon the Bioshock roots of the developer’s past.

Judas Bioshock Mass Effect: The main character, Judas, standing with a determined expression. To the left is the Bioshock logo and the N7 insignia from Mass Effect. On the right is an Xbox and PlayStation logo.

The minds behind the beloved Bioshock series, Ghost Story Games (previously known as Irrational Games), dropped off the radar ever since Bioshock Infinite: Burial at Sea in 2014. Having revealed its new game, Judas, at the 2022 Game Awards with a cryptic trailer, we finally got our first real glimpse at the upcoming PS5 and Xbox FPS during Sony’s State of Play 2024 showcase. What you might not realize is that Judas takes as much influence from games like Mass Effect as it does Bioshock.

Though Sony would have you believe it’s a PS5 exclusive, Judas is reportedly lined up to be one of the most exciting new Xbox games as well as among the ranks of the many new PS5 games. Nevertheless, take one glimpse at Judas and it’s immediately obvious that it’s created by the same developer as the well-known Bioshock series. From the absurd setting to the powers you can wield, it’s by no means a break from the studio’s tried and tested approach. That’s not to say the PS5 and Xbox game isn’t trying to change things up, however.

Expanding on the action-packed gameplay trailer showcased at State of Play 2024, creative director Ken Levine unpacked how Judas plans to set itself apart from the Bioshock series. Most notably, Judas will feature significantly more player choice than the studio’s past games, bringing in elements of the best RPG games like the sci-fi masterpiece Mass Effect.

“What if you could choose between who to befriend and who to stab in the back?”, Levine explains. “Characters have always been the driving force in every game we’ve ever made”, he says, but the relationships and how the story unfolded were always rather set in stone. Sure, there was a degree of player freedom in Ghost Story’s previous games, such as your treatment of the Little Sisters impacting the Bioshock 1 ending, but not to the extent that Levine suggests.

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“With Judas, we wanted to craft an experience where these decisions and how the story unfolds is up to you.” Taking on the role of the titular Judas, you are “the driver of every event in [the] story”. As Levine hints, towards the start of the story, Judas sparks a “devastating revolution” that rocks the spacefaring city of the Mayflower, a place “whose citizens are trained to spy on one another and tear each other apart for the slightest offense”.

Rebelling against those in power, Judas is set to give you much more freedom and control over the events. “Do you want to fix what you broke or leave it all to burn? That’s a decision only you can make”, Levine closes on.

Judas Bioshock Mass Effect: Gameplay of Judas showing the player attacking a large robot using lightning powers and a rifle.

While Levine points out that the studio wants to give the player greater control over the story, including making decisions that affect outcomes, his closing sentiment paints a more streamlined picture. Levine’s ‘fix what you broke’ or ‘destroy everything’ approach suggests this new direction doesn’t quite push Judas towards a full RPG experience like Mass Effect. In other words, it sounds like these are the broad strokes of the game’s ending, with Judas either falling in line or taking her revolution to its conclusion. Hopefully there’s a bit more to it than just these two outcomes, but we’ll have to wait and see on that front.

Until Ghost Story Games is ready to reveal more, we can only imagine what a sci-fi immersive sim RPG hybrid from Ken Levine would really look like. Nevertheless, Judas’ trailer blew us and many PlayStation fans away, so it could still become one of the best games on console. While we eagerly await the Judas release date, find out why Hideo Kojima’s Physint feels destined for the PS6 rather than PS5, or how this new Death Stranding 2 feature fixes a major flaw from its predecessor – two other great reveals from Sony’s State of Play event.