How a movie, book, or game begins can mean a lot to the story that follows. Some plots swing slowly, without surprises. Others throw right into the thick of things, so you have to unravel the ball on the go. And to create truly memorable in-game intros, you need to select a format that will match all subsequent events. In some cases, these may be staged scenes, in others, we are given freedom of movement.
How about remembering some of the most memorable video game openings of the last couple of decades. Moreover, there are not so many really leaving a mark.
# 1 BioShock Infinite
Given that this is a sequel to the BioShock series, and the details of the setting were known long before the release, Infinite did not come up with any big surprises. But the way Ken Levine put it in was great. First, the game shows a short boat trip, then allows you to explore a lighthouse, somewhere off the coast of America, right there we see the first riddles. Next comes an interesting exposition – instead of traveling along the horizontal ocean, we take off into the heavens. We rise high above the clouds and meet the sun. This feeling of delight only intensifies after leaving the capsule, where we are enveloped in soothing music. At the same time, the essence of the lyrics goes beyond the baptism scene. A few more moments later and we are already on the street of the floating city.
On the one hand, we are free to move and turn our heads, interact with the world, on the other hand, everything is unusual and all that remains is to move along a predetermined flow.
# 2 Mass Effect 2
The Mass Effect 2 intro is more like a classic sci-fi blockbuster or some kind of action movie about a brave ship commander sacrificing himself to save most of the crew. And if in many games such a move would look trivial, then it fits perfectly. Even with no experience with the original ME, the intro introduces several key characters and sets a vector for a galactic story.
There is also room for an unexpected turn. When you play the game for the first time, it’s hard to believe that the writers killed Shepard in the first few minutes of the adventure.
# 3 Prey
And this introduction is one of those that manipulate expectations, but in the end it turns out that it was all a dream of a dog. Or a physical simulation of the everyday world. Interestingly, how the first of these projection screens, reconfigurable locations and dummy people become a reference to a shared history on the Talos I space station.
Tricks like these are common in storytelling, but rarely engaging. The reason is that such sharp turns should not be the goal of the story, they should not be the main idea for which we are moving forward. We are attracted to human drama, suspense, thirst for truth, and surprise serves as a tool that keeps us in shape.
# 4 Red Dead Redemption 2
To this day, RDR 2 remains Rockstar’s controversial game. Someone finds it too slow, regardless of the chapter, others enjoy its calm pace and attention to detail. And the introductory part already warns fans of furious action that this game is about finding a place in a big world, not chaos.
Shoving through deep snow somewhere in the mountains, Red Dead Redemption 2 is breathtaking, emphasizing that the beauty of nature and the place of man in it will be one of the key themes. The hard realities of life in the Wild West, almost untouched by civilization, are immediately reflected.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is definitely not for everyone, but it can provoke a lot of thoughts, the main thing is to give a chance.
# 5 Batman: Arkham Asylum
When the game first came out, no one really knew what to expect from the Rocksteady Games team. Perhaps this was one of the reasons for the success of the Arkham series. The developers relied on the classic approach from the comics – Batman delivers the Joker to the hospital. But the clown gave up too easily and the Dark Knight does not consider it an accident.
His instinct did not fail – the Joker slams the trap, closing Archem and begins to unfold the next phase of his grandiose plan, which includes a whole range of opponents. This is similar to real quest rooms, only on the scale of a vast complex. Thus, Arkham Asylum is not only a great introduction to the game, but also to the universe developed by Rocksteady.
# 6 Half-Life 2
The beginning of the Half-Life sequel remains to this day one of the simplest and, at the same time, complex examples of intro, from which it is impossible to break away. This concerns not only the trip, the station, but also the subsequent chain of events, which ends with the capture of Gordon. The designers have shaped City 17 in such a way that you don’t feel squeezed in a linear story, and the planned actions do not seem prepared. The use of light, color and sound for direction is generally considered one of the best examples of game design.
This introduction has it all – the confusion of a new place, the first acquaintance with physics, revolutionary at the time of release, a representation of the general situation in which we find ourselves. We see the antagonist in the first seconds, leaving the platform, feeling a sense of helplessness, loneliness in this dystopia. With Half-Life 2, you can take an example in relation to various features, and the general plot is a confirmation of this.
# 7 Portal 2
Looking back at the opening minutes of Portal 2, it seems like Arkane drew inspiration from the game for her Prey. The presentation is different, but the very concept of an artificial environment that appears to be safe is almost identical. Although the developers took advantage of the surprise effect, in reality it almost doesn’t matter – because in reality Portal 2 is a story in one location. The change of scenery is necessary for fun, while the plot could be filmed in the same room with the three main characters, along with the cube and cake. In general, if you start to lay out the script, then it emphasizes how important the “texture” of the character is for the story, and not portals, platforms and solving puzzles.
# 8 GTA IV
This intro is unlike most games familiar to you – there are no gunfights, chases or robberies. It’s different from what Rockstar has presented in past and future titles. Because the task of the prologue is to surpass expectations in a different way. Its linear structure, the history of the “little” immigrant in big America and the lack of action, reflects the core values of Rockstar. The studio not only creates large open worlds, but also writes stories dedicated to people who overcome obstacles.
GTA 4 begins as a classic novel about the American Dream. Contrasting the wealth and life of the working class. And the theme of small communes in New York, which strive for the new, but are not in a hurry to let go of the old, is revealed only after we are given freedom.
What do you think are the best intros to games?