Splicers are the most common enemy in the first two bioshock games, and are featured heavily in the book. The become more frequent in the story after plasmids go on sale and become popular, thanks to Frank Fontaine and the scientists Brigid Tenenbaum and Yi Suchong. Splicers are citizens of Rapture who have used excessive amounts of a drug called ADAM, and the drug has damaged their bodies and minds beyond repair. The drug, which was discovered by Brigid Tenenbaum, works by exchanging original cells within a subject with new and changing cells, changing people’s genetic structure. The effects of plasmids and gene tonics seem minimal, but technically there is no safe level of ADAM usage. ADAM is a very dangerous drug, being addictive and causing adverse side effects. Some users develop physical deformities, whereas some users (like Sander Cohen) become mentally unstable with few, if any, physical effects. The side effects are different with each individual as different users have different reactions to ADAM. The term splicer is a reference to gene splicing.
List of adverse effects (taken from the bioshock wiki) :
- Bleeding from eyes, nose and mouth
- Crystal formations on skin
- Cutis laxa
- Hair loss
- Hair patches
- Heterochromia iridum
- Hormone imbalance
- Memory loss
- Spider veins
- Swollen gums
- Tooth loss
- Varicose veins
The use of Adam and plasmids becomes more frequent once the Rapture civil war starts. Frank Fontaine used ADAM’s addictiveness to make money from Rapture’s citizens, as well as using ADAM to bribe splicers into working with him. He knew that ADAM was highly addictive but still insisted on it being sold.
In the first bioshock game there are 5 types of splicers. The first you encounter are Thuggish Splicers. These splicers are quite weak and attack with melee weapons like pipes and wrenches. They often attack in groups and later on in the game they are equip with the Electric Flesh tonic, making them immune to the Electro Bolt plasmid. The second splicer type is the Leadhead Splicer. They use firearms to attack, usually using pistols or machine guns. They keep their distance from the player and are harder to kill than the thuggish splicers. The third is the Spider Splicer. These splicers crawl on the ceilings and throw hooks at their enemies, and often run to attack them then retreat by jumping back onto the ceiling. They can be hard to hit due to this and are great at surprising unsuspecting victims. The fourth splicer type is the Houdini Splicer, who use plasmids to teleport and disappear. They usually attack using fire, and disappear after they have attacked the player to have an advantage, though they can be tracked by the clouds of smoke they leave behind. The final splicer type is the Nitro Splicer, and are rarer than the other splicer types. They attack by throwing grenades from a distance. If the player gets to close to them they throw a smoke bomb in an attempt to escape, and when killed they drop a bomb to harm anyone near it. Bioshock 2 adds one more splicer type, the Brute Splicer. These enemies are much larger than the other splicer types, and more powerful too. They attack by ramming into the player, and also by picking up heavy debris and throwing it. They are able to jump huge distances and use this to their advantage.
Splicers are known for wearing masks to cover their facial deformities. The theme chosen for the 1958 New Year celebration was a masquerade ball, and thousands of ornate animal-themed masks were created and distributed throughout the city to the revelers. Before the idea of the New Years masquerade party was thought up, the splicers would have worn simple, crude masks, made from pieces of metal and fabric with holes punched through them. The most common mask worn is the rabbit mask. Sander Cohen is known for wearing this particular mask in a black colour.