- “ADAM is a canvas of genetic modification... but Plasmids are the paint.”
- ― Yi Suchong[src]
ADAM is a chemical substance that has the ability to rewrite genetic material, allowing the user to alter their bodies, their genetic makeup and their natural abilities without any direct limits whatsoever aside from their imagination. ADAM does this by supporting the formation of potent stem cells that have the ability to differentiate into any cell type, including a variety of unnatural ones. This type of cell formation, however, is also often compared to a benign form of cancer, as the chemical slowly destroys native tissue cells and replaces them with unstable stem versions.
As revealed in the audio diary Hatred, ADAM is a viscous, green liquid in its raw form. ADAM is harvested from a special type of Sea Slug and is then processed to refine it into a usable product, creating a serum known as a Plasmid. It is the Plasmid that can then be used to alter genetic material.
In the BioShock series, ADAM is used for character ability development. The player can spend ADAM at a Gatherer's Garden to gain Plasmids and Gene Tonics to give the protagonist new abilities or improve the ones already possessed.
ADAM, in its raw form can be genetically manipulated to refine it into a usable product known as a Plasmid. The Plasmid in question can be configured to create special body tissue that grants access to abilities and functions that would not normally be present in the human body. ADAM achieves this by sponsoring the creation of potent stem cells that have the ability to differentiate into any kind of cell, including a variety of unnatural ones.
ADAM, however, can also be compared to a seemingly benign form of cancer, as it slowly destroys native cells and replaces them with unstable stem versions. While it is namely this instability that gives ADAM its incredible gene-editing ability, it also comes with the rather serious downside of causing gradual cosmetic changes and mental deterioration and degradation to people who use it habitually.
In addition to that, ADAM is extremely addictive, as the stem cells are unstable by nature and require the user to consume more ADAM to keep the stem cells stable in order to remain sane and healthy. Unfortunately, consuming more ADAM also leads to the creation of more stem cells which forces the user to consume even more ADAM, leading to progressively bigger doses of ADAM being required to maintain stability, with every subsequent dose being bigger than the last, creating a rapidly escalating feedback loop. If the ADAM user fails to consume enough ADAM in a given time, the resulting withdrawal symptoms, caused by the instability of the stem cells, will drive them insane. Though it was possible to indulge in Plasmids without becoming dependent, ADAM's growing importance in Rapture daily life and the stimulant effect it had on the mind almost invariably led users to abuse it.
Another unique attribute of ADAM is that it has some form of memory. While the exact mechanism behind this is unknown, it can recall past cell configurations and thus copy portions of a person's memory. These memories can be transferred to another individual if the same ADAM is removed from one individual and injected into another. People experiencing these accidental memory transfers will often see these memories as ghostly images.
Memories and information can also be deliberately encoded into ADAM and be used to add new information to a person's mind and overwrite or alter existing memories, allowing one to use ADAM to, for example, enhance their intelligence.
Despite its ability to allow the user to grant themselves any kind of ability, many of the abilities provided by ADAM require energy. The energy needed to fuel these abilities is derived from EVE, another Plasmid-like serum that is obtained by refining ADAM.
ADAM was discovered by Brigid Tenenbaum in a Sea Slug that had bitten one of Rapture's dock workers and healed his long-crippled hand. The Sea Slugs alone could not provide enough ADAM for marketing consumer products but it was found that when a slug is embedded in a host's stomach, it generated twenty to thirty times the yield of usable ADAM. This led to the creation of the Little Sisters through Fontaine's orphanage, as young girls were found to be the only viable hosts.
The exact date of ADAM's discovery remains unclear. A concept Teleportation advertisement seen in Fontaine Futuristics, is dated 06/16/1948. Discovery may have been before 1952, as Tenenbaum, Yi Suchong and Gilbert Alexander are all seen in a "Rapture's Best and Brightest" 1952 poster. All were key figures in Rapture's scientific community after the discovery of ADAM. It is unlikely that Tenenbaum would have been so honored prior to ADAM's discovery.
Unfortunately for Rapture, the extremely addictive nature of ADAM soon led to it becoming vital for Rapture's continued function; Everybody wanted it, everybody needed it. As the addiction began to worsen, the demand for ADAM conversely soon skyrocketed far beyond what Rapture could produce and soon withdrawal symptoms begun driving ADAM users insane, turning them into rabidly ADAM-addicted Splicers, driving them to start attacking and killing anyone nearby in hopes of acquiring more ADAM.
In an attempt to at least partially mitigate the problem, Yi Suchong adapted the Little Sisters to extract residual ADAM and EVE from dead bodies (found around Rapture in plenty due to the growing chaos) which could then be recycled back into usable Plasmids for sale. The extraction of ADAM, however, made the Little Sisters targets for the Splicers, and as such, the Big Daddies of Rapture were marshalled into serving as protectors for them by bonding them to the Little Sisters and having them protect said Little Sisters from attacks with lethal force while they would extract ADAM.
The problems caused by ADAM abuse among the population of Rapture were exacerbated by Andrew Ryan's Free Market societal beliefs. His hands-off approach to running the city meant that there was no regulation of ADAM and no research into and prevention of its side effects, allowing the abuse to continue unabated. By the time when the terrible side-effects were made clearer, it was too late. The extreme ADAM addiction of Rapture had driven the population into total anarchy, starting the Rapture Civil War.
- Main article: BioShock
ADAM is obtained by the player from Little Sisters. There is a choice regarding whether to rescue the Little Sisters by using a special Plasmid given to the player by Tenenbaum or to harvest them. Rescuing the girls destroys the slugs within them, leaving them alive, curing them but gaining only 80 ADAM in the process. Harvesting involves forcibly extracting the slug, receiving the full 160 ADAM at the cost of killing the Little Sister (rationalized in an audio diary, to being like removing life support from a terminally ill patient).
While choosing to rescue the Little Sisters provides less ADAM in the short term, after each third saved girl, a gift will be placed in a teddy bear at a Gatherer's Garden which contains 200 ADAM as well as the addition of some unique Gene Tonics and supplies. The total ADAM received from rescuing three Little Sisters is, therefore, 3×80 + 200 = 440 ADAM, which is only 40 less than the total of 160×3 = 480 ADAM received from harvesting three Little Sisters. The choice, therefore, has little difference in cost.
This choice affects the way Tenenbaum interacts with the player and the ending of the game.
Draining Fontaine of ADAM in the final boss fight grants 250 ADAM per drain (for a total of 750 ADAM), but since the player has neither access to a Gatherer's Garden, nor any way of exiting the fight without killing Fontaine and ending the game, the ADAM gained is only for show.
- Main article: BioShock 2
In BioShock 2, new ways of obtaining ADAM appear in the game. The methods are listed below.
- Adoption: Subject Delta can adopt a Little Sister and have her extract the ADAM from a corpse. Each harvest yields 40 ADAM, and each Little Sister can harvest up to two corpses. In total, this yields 80 ADAM per Little Sister adoption. The harvest bonus can be increased to 60 ADAM through the use of the Proud Parent Tonic. This Tonic is in the first gift received after saving four Little Sisters. The player can obtain a total of 12×2×40 = 960 ADAM through adoption alone (or 4×2×40 + 8×2×60 = 1280 ADAM if using the Proud Parent Tonic).
- Save/Harvest: After adopting a Little Sister, Delta has the option to either save or harvest her. The player obtains 80 ADAM for saving and 160 ADAM for harvesting. Rescuers receive three gifts, each after rescuing four Little Sisters, containing a total of 450 ADAM and two Gene Tonics and some resources. This means that a typical Rescuer will earn 12×80 + 80 + 120 + 250 = 1410 ADAM while a typical Harvester will receive 12×160 = 1920 ADAM through the harvest/rescue operation.
- Kill a Big Sister: Each Big Sister corpse yields 40 ADAM, which constitutes the main reward after fighting her. There are a total of seven Big Sisters the player will have to kill in the game, earning the player 7×40 = 280 ADAM.
- Harvest a Sea Slug: Sea Slugs can be picked off the ocean floor, and yield 10 ADAM each. There are five Sea Slugs in total, giving the player 5×10 = 50 ADAM. Three are found in the beginning underwater section of Siren Alley. Two more are found outside near Fontaine Futuristics; one at the beginning of the level, and the other can be reached by climbing the staircase near an Alpha Series corpse on the way to the hidden Plasmid lab.
- Gather from a Corpse: In the later stages of the game, the player will be able to control a Little Sister who can gather ADAM from corpses, yielding 40 ADAM each time. There are three corpses in the level, yielding a total of 3×40 = 120 ADAM.
- ADAM from Eleanor: In the level Inner Persephone, Eleanor will harvest/save Little Sisters from the Therapy and Infirmary Wards, granting the player 50 ADAM for each ward. Therefore the player will get a total of 2×50 = 100 ADAM.
To get the maximum amount of ADAM in BioShock 2, it is necessary to perform all possible gather sessions, to save the first four Little Sisters and obtain the Proud Parent Tonic, then harvest the rest of the Sisters. Saving Only will grant the player 3,240 ADAM total. Harvesting All will give 3,430 ADAM total. Combining both methods (after earning the Proud Parent Tonic) will give a maximum sum of 3,510 ADAM.
- Main article: Minerva's Den
In the DLC, ADAM is gained in the same way as in BioShock 2. In total, there are nineteen Sea Slugs, six Little Sisters, and two Big Sisters. Sea Slugs can be found during underwater sections, as well as in breakable glass jars found scattered around the DLC.
Saving all the Little Sisters in a level will grant the player the Proud Parent Gene Tonic and 100 ADAM (along with a cash reward) as a first gift, and persisting will earn the player the Armored Shell 2 Tonic and 120 ADAM. After clearing the first two levels of Little Sisters, as with Bioshock 2, a Big Sister will arrive, with 80 ADAM available from each after defeating them.
If the player chooses to rescue the Little Sisters exclusively, they will earn a total of 1570 ADAM (2050 with Master Protector) plus Armored Shell 2 and $260, which are both extremely useful in the final fight against Reed Wahl and cannot be obtained otherwise. If the player chooses only to harvest them, they will earn 1710 (or 2190) ADAM, thus creating a gap of 140 ADAM. If the player chooses to rescue the Little Sisters in the Minerva's Den level and then harvest them in Operations they will accrue a total of 1690/2170 ADAM, plus $100, which is 120 ADAM more than for a "pure" Rescuer but still 20 ADAM less than for a Harvester.
Unlike Bioshock or Bioshock 2, harvesting or saving Little Sisters has no impact on the actual ending of Minerva's Den, only whether or not Sigma receives Gatherer's Garden gifts.
BioShock 2 Multiplayer
- Main article: BioShock 2 Multiplayer
In the multiplayer, ADAM serves as the player's main form of advancement through Ranks and can be obtained in various ways. They are as follows:
- Kill. Reward: 10 ADAM. Granted upon killing an enemy.
- Assist. Reward: 5 ADAM. Granted upon dealing damage to an enemy without having dealt the killing blow.
- Hack. Reward: 10 ADAM. Granted upon successfully hacking a machine.
- Research Photo. Reward: 10 ADAM. Granted upon successfully researching an enemy corpse.
- ADAM Vial. Reward: 10 ADAM. Granted upon collecting one of the ADAM Vials scattered across the level.
- Killing Streaks. Reward: 50 ADAM. Granted upon killing three enemies in a row without dying.
- Big Daddy Suit. Reward: 50 ADAM. Granted upon picking up a Big Daddy Suit in the level.
- Big Daddy Takedown. Reward: 100 ADAM. Granted upon landing the killing blow upon a Big Daddy.
- Trial Completion. Reward: Varies depending on the trial and its level. Granted upon completing a trial.
Behind the Scenes
- ADAM and EVE are a reference to the Biblical characters Adam and Eve, who, according to Genesis, cursed themselves and the human race with death after eating the forbidden fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. This symbolizes the fall of Rapture and its citizens.
- The effects of ADAM are reversible, as explained in the Minerva's Den DLC, but the effects of ADAM have only been reversed on one person, Charles Milton Porter, with the help of Brigid Tenenbaum.
- Tenenbaum's visual description of ADAM in her audio diary Hatred, describes ADAM as it looked in the BioShock X06 Trailer. There, ADAM was a green, murky liquid dispensed via smaller, leaner hypodermic needles. In the final game, ADAM appears as a scarlet or red substance.
- In the book "Deco Devolution" — the art book included in the BioShock 2 Special Edition — there are some references to ADAM being called EDEN, perhaps in its early stages. From the Splicer section of the book; "The concept of EDEN led us to experiment with enemies so devolved in their form that they become more or less human blobs."
- Early in BioShock's development, ADAM would have been the actual currency of Rapture, just as the Rapture Dollar was in the final game.
- The BioShock developer walkthrough shows looting a Cash Register filled with ADAM. The icon is slightly different with a stylized A.
- The in-game cash register model has an ADAM symbol on its top.
- The unused advertisement for Anchor Cigarettes show the currency symbol rendered as a stylized A.
- An early version of the Kashmir Restaurant's entrance, seen during Welcome to Rapture's loading screen, features an unused poster for a presumed telephone company. The poster features the same price symbol as used by Anchor Cigarettes.
- An early design for the Old Tom Whiskey advertisement features an A symbol instead of the $ seen in-game.
- The Gene Bank still retains a small ADAM symbol under the third bottle from the right. Its earlier incarnation, the Plasmi-Quik, had more prominent ADAM symbols and a coin slot.
- Some remnants of the concept remain in the game in various public address announcements and a poster for Chechnya Vodka, featuring an A symbol instead of a typical $ symbol.
- A Rapture Reminder: we all have bills to pay, and the temptation to break curfew to make a little extra ADAM is forgivable. Breaking curfew is not. Stay on the level, and out of trouble!
- A Parasite wanders the halls. We rebuild our city and the doubters send a fly to spoil our ointment. One thousand ADAM to the man or woman who pins its wings.
- According to game developer Steve Gaynor, the enormous glowing orb seen outside the windows of Persephone was what gave sea slugs the ability to produce ADAM.
- In BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea - Episode 2, An audio diary from Frank Fontaine reveals that Drinkable Plasmids use ten times more ADAM to produce than Injectable ones. This explains why their production was canceled shortly after their release, and why they were only shown in the DLC.
- When Elizabeth is reviving Booker DeWitt after he suffers enough wounds to drain the health bar, she is shown using a slim, hypodermic needle filled with a glowing green liquid. It is unknown what this liquid is; however, the later developments of the BioShock story along with the description of ADAM in its raw form, it is entirely possible that Elizabeth uses raw ADAM to bring Booker back from mortal wounds.
- This would explain Booker's ability to survive serious injuries and recover in a matter of seconds.
- Interestingly enough, the ADAM hypos found in BioShock 2 Multiplayer appear to be labeled, while the ones found in BioShock and BioShock 2 are not.
|Items in BioShock|
|Single Use items||First Aid Kit · EVE Hypo · Spider Splicer Organ · Automatic Hack Tool · Dollar · ADAM|
|Ammunition||Pistol Round · Auto Round · Buck · Grenade · Film · Chemical · Bolt|
|U-Invent components||Alcohol · Battery · Brass Tube · Chlorophyll Solution · Distilled Water · Empty Hypo · Enzyme Sample · Glue · Kerosene · Rubber Hose · Screw · Shell Casing|
|Consumables||Arcadia Merlot · Bandages · Chechnya Vodka · Cigarettes · Coffee · Creme-Filled Cake · Fine Gin · Hop-Up Soda · Lacas Scotch · Moonbeam Absinthe · Old Harbinger Beer · Old Tom Whiskey · Pep Bar · Pipe · Potato Chips · Red Ribbon Brandy|
|Plot items||Audio Diary · Electromagnetic Pulse Bomb · Genetic Key · Quarter-Can of Ionic Gel · Lazarus Vector · Little Sister Gift · Lot 192 · Nitroglycerin · Pheromone · R-34 Wire Cluster · Rosa Gallica · Cohen's Muse Box|
|BioShock: The Collection only||Golden Film Reels|
|Items in BioShock 2|
|Single Use items||First Aid Kit · EVE Hypo · Spider Splicer Organ · Dollar · ADAM · Sea Slug|
|Ammunition||Drill Fuel · Rivet · .50 Caliber Round · Shell · Grenade · Spear · Hack Dart · Mini-Turret · Ion Cell (Minerva's Den)|
|Consumables||Aspirin · Bandages · Canned Beans · Canned Fruit · Chechnya Vodka · Cigarettes · Coffee · Creme-Filled Cake · Doc Hollcroft's Cure-All · Fine Gin · Hop-Up Soda · Lacas Scotch · Moonbeam Absinthe · Moonshine · Old Harbinger Beer · Old Tom Whiskey · Pep Bar · Potato Chips · Potted Meat · Red Ribbon Brandy · Sardines · Tate Merlot · Vitamins|
|Plot items||Audio Diary · Radio · Genetic Key · Little Sister Gift · Rose · Signal Relay · ADAM-Infused Plant · Master Key · Signal Beacon (Minerva's Den)|