It’s always said that a piece of text or film must grab its audience early on. Video games are certainly no different.
The first ten minutes of any video game can range from a dense and informative introduction slowly introducing characters and setting to an action-packed war from the very beginning, baptizing the player in blood rather than a tutorial.
Video games show plenty of voice in their openings, and the most interesting captivate their players before they even realize it.
With this in mind, there are five of the best video game introductions that grabbed us by the time we even started playing.
Uncharted isn’t a series quite known for its levels of realism. That doesn’t mean it can’t have one of the most engaging video game introductions. In fact, quite the opposite.
In one of the most thrilling starts to any video game, the player in Uncharted 2 (as Nathan Drake) begins their journey falling from a train after a crash as it hangs off the top of a mountain. Yes, you’re reading that right.
The player must climb up the hanging train cart and pass a gauntlet of struggles with death around every corner to do it.
Not only does this force the player to learn game mechanics on their feet or face the consequences, but what better way to get the player in the shoes of Nathan Drake than the threat of spectacular and brutal death from the very first second of the game?
- 4. Bioshock
It takes a lot of imagination to come up with the world Bioshock inhabits. It takes even more imagination bringing the player into it. For 2k Games and friends, this task was handled beautifully.
In the series first installment, Bioshock grabs the player with an opening video sequence perfectly fit to the world of Rapture.
After the player’s plane crashes, they swim from the wreckage to find a tower. Within the tower, a large banner that reads, “No gods or kings. Only man.” The player enters an elevator contraption and begins the descent to underwater. The beauty of the ride and journey give way to a scene of murder as the player exits the elevator. The shock and beauty of these scenes take the player from skeptical to immersed in seconds, joining in the deep, volatile, and unique universe the Bioshock series creates. Its characters come to life before the player even realizes what exactly is happening.
Much like Bioshock, Dead Space as a series brings a darkness to video games that it needs to bring players into early on. With Dead Space 2, developer Visceral Games nails it.
The game begins introducing the relationship between Isaac Clarke and his girlfriend. In a small conversation, the game makes the player care about this relationship. Then, in a matter of minutes, Dead Space 2 shatters this by revealing that Clarke’s girlfriend is dead, and that he’s having nightmares of her speaking to him. We then awaken with a concerned doctor looking over Isaac, informing him he’s locked in a straitjacket jacket, and that he’s in grave danger. Before the doctor can explain, however, he is impaled and infected, turning into a necromorph.
After this shocking introduction, the player is tossed right into the fire, forced to escape the necromorphs while locked in a straitjacket.
The game never truly lets off of this pressure either, keeping an element of suspense and terror throughout. Much of this is accomplished and has its tone set with this fantastic introduction sequence.
Lee Everett doesn’t quite seem like a criminal, but that’s how we are introduced to the fantastic protagonist of The Walking Dead Game’s massively successful first season.
Everett is riding in the back of a police car, handling a conversation with the policeman driving him. The two speak on Everett’s status as a criminal and motives, with the player choosing the options.
What begins as a fairly deep conversation as the player tries to learn more about Everett and how he ended up in this situation, the officer crashes the car.
Lee (the player) wakes up in the car on its side, and must crawl from the vehicle and gather his surroundings, eventually having to shoot the cop with his own gun after the cop becomes a zombie. What quickly went from bad to worse goes even lower as Everett finds himself in conflict with a series of zombies before finding a little girl still in her home, Clementine.
This opening sequence beautifully captures the player’s attention and shows how quick the gritty world of the game can turn on a dime from peaceful to chaotic. It also introduces the player to both Lee and Clementine as protagonists the character grows a deep connection with, capturing one of the best dynamics video games have ever created.
It all is set off by one of the best video game introductions of the last twenty years.
- 1. The Last of Us
The Last of Us got a mix of reviews, but most were certainly positive.
While the game had some weak spots, sometimes being described as a “ladder simulator,” it has what could be argued as the best video game introduction of all time.
It’s hard to make the player care about things going wrong before they truly meet their characters. The Last of Us accomplishes exactly that, better than anything that comes before it.
The Last of Us brings the player into the eyes of Joel’s daughter Sarah and their lives when disaster strikes. Through Joel we then see the downward spiral of his life as it descends into chaos (seeing his daughter shot right before him,) the player is fully engrossed in the universe from the very beginning. As well, the player tastes their first tragedy, something The Last of Us is never short on delivering with a fast paced volatile and dangerous world where few are ever truly safe.
Now that’s an introduction.