Best Beginning to a Game


#1

What’s your favorite (or, if you prefer, what is objectively the best) beginning of a video game?

Let’e not get pedantic about what counts as a beginning, but what’s a game that you actually love starting over again (and maybe, like starting over more than you like continuing?).

For me, it’s Bloodborne. The whole game is actually incredibly relaxing for me. The atmosphere is engrossing and I can get lost in it, forget my worries for a while, and the combat is so smooth. For me, the beginning (up to and/or around the cathedral ward) is the best, soon after that I find I get too strong that the fear and excitement goes away. I just started another game of Bloodborne this evening, and yep this first few areas are perfect for me.

Anyone else? Anyone else have a beginning they really love?


#2

Metal Gear Solid’s opening blew my mind as a kid, I couldn’t believe that videogames could look so cinematic.

Silent Hill 2 starts off real strong by starting slow and getting under your skin before shit hits the fan

Speaking of shit hitting the fan, Resident Evil 4’s town sequence is one of the best I’ve seen in a game, just from its versatility and tone-setting.

Chrono Trigger. Maybe for the nostalgia, but I feel like it’s lightning quick in getting you engaged from the town exploration to your first time travel sequence.

Wind Waker has the most human opening, making you care about Aryll when she gets kidnapped. I don’t want Link’s big cute head to cry.

Walking Dead S01E01 does a really good job making me care about Clementine, the voice mails are a great, chilling touch.

Gravity Rush is beautiful with its music and the apple falling from the tree. Not subtle, but still cute.

And lastly, Nier. I can’t really describe it without spoilers but BOY does it leave you with some questions!!


#3

These aren’t necessarily games where the beginning is the best part—more so their strong beginnings are hugely important in setting up their stories and gameplay.

Half-Life 2’s opening is great because it places you in City 17 as a normal citizen rather than the gun-toting gravity-defying rocket-launching warrior-scientist you eventually become, so for the first half-hour or so you just interact with guards and observe all the little pieces of the world the game tries to build. It grounds the game at the beginning to develop a palpable atmosphere and a sense of how powerless humanity is in the face of the Combine. If there’s a single game I most enjoy restarting, it’s definitely this one.

Prey (2017) has an amazing first hour or so where it sets up a simulated world and then slowly peels away that facade through strange character moments and dialogue. It establishes the game’s habit of constantly playing mind games with the player and really sucked me when I played it.

Majora’s Mask starts off with Link riding Epona through a dark forest, getting absolutely wrecked by the Skull Kid, falling into another dimension, and being transformed into a Deku Scrub with three days to reclaim his ocarina before the moon wipes out all life on Earth. And he can’t access the Song of Time to start the game’s central time loop until that happens. It immediately establishes the stakes, pushes you to explore Clock Town and interact with its characters (which sets up the game’s heavy sidequest focus), and adds a sense of urgency to the first moments of a longer, relatively slow-paced game.


#4

I really like the beginning of the first Bioshock, from the small hint of character in the plane, to crashing into the ocean, swimming through the moon lit ocean surrounded by flames, to the dark stairs leading up to the lighthouse and the sharp shimmer of light poking in the door.
You feel unsure and afraid to walk into the dark, and then when it lights up you are greeted with a giant golden face of Andrew Ryan. The dark stairs leading down to the elevator and the trip down below, giving you a gorgeous and intimidating view of the exterior of Rapture.
It was such an effective introduction to the game, not to mention the moments that follow that with the elevator being attacked by the Splicer, and walking out in the dark with no way to defend yourself.


#5

the beginning stages of any Rome 2 DEI game has been something that the mod has mastered in terms of replayability. The diversity of factions adds to that, but the quality of mechanics that underlie the progression to stability for any kingdom or republic in that game make it endlessly enjoyable. Factoring in the weather, the campaign logistics, and your population base make the pursuit of stability, constantly spurring you on towards executing your designs through challenge.


#6

I totally agree that Bioshock’s opening is amazing. So good that, for me, the actual play loop and systems couldn’t live up to it. I was tired of shooting splicers by the time I got through the medical pavilion and never finished the game.


#7

Real talk, when I first started playing Bioshock, the sense of vulnerability and claustrophobia I felt locked inside that tiny submersible with no weapons or tools overwhelmed me. I thought the moment was unscripted and that the Splicer was AI-controlled and would eventually break into the submersible and kill me. I had to turn off the game at that point.


#8

The opening cinematic to Red Dead Redemption does such a good job of not only establishing what time frame of the Wild West it takes place in but also the mind set of most people. I can not think of a game that has done a better job of making it feel faithful to the movie genre it is trying to emulate.


#9

Brütal Legend has one of my favorite game openings due to how definitively it defines its opinion on it’s subject matter - mainly that metal is rad as hell. There’s a great moment where the band that the main character is roadying for starts playing a chunky opening riff for a song before pivoting into a whiny pop song; this leads another roadie to proclaim that “metal is dead” as the main character looks on in disappointment. It’s a good fakeout to set up a contrast with the game’s expression of what type of metal should be appreciated.

After things kick off and you’re sent into the fantasy setting, you’re immediately chopping people in half and casting lightning from your guitar. I still remember the first time I performed an Earthshaker and destroyed the building I was in, revealing the amazing landscape of lava and ash around mountains of bones. It was an environment straight from an album cover, and it was awesome inspiring.

This opening showed how reverent the game was towards its themes by showing a clear perspective on how powerful and inspiring it thinks metal can be when done right. The fact that it’s surrounded by fun hack-n-slash action (at least for the first few hours before transitioning into an RTS) really accentuates the awesomeness of what you’re experiencing.

(That’s not even mentioning the FMV sequence depicting Jack Black entering a record store and describing the mysterious origins of the album that serves as the title menu.)


#10

Fahrenheit/Indigo Prophecy. When I first played it, it blew my mind. It felt like the future of story telling in games. Having to play multiple characters on opposing side, making choices and having those choices have consequences… I don’t think I have felt that way about the opening to a game since. It’s a shame the rest of the game didn’t even come close to the promise of those first scenes.


#11

i played the demo of fahrenheit like tens of times trying to see the different ways it could shake out
then i got the game proper and… yea. the more i think about it the less possible it seems to me to be able to make that kind of push-pull work in a longer game? it was still super disappointing though


#12

I feel like nearly everything I like involves me saying “just keep going it’ll find its feet soon” when I recommend it

BUT

Final Fantasy IX has I think, especially for an old console RPG, a pretty snappy and engaging opening sequence that works really well for establishing a tone and a world alongside introducing a pretty varied and big cast all without really feeling like it’s dragging its feet or really trying to introduce itself.

oh, actually echoing earlier posts I definitely love Bloodborne and Majora’s Mask’s openings I guess both for the confidence with which they just throw you into their surreal worlds without a lot to go on.

though Bloodborne’s opening was less peaceful for me and more wildly dashing to see how far I could get without dying, which culminated in getting cut down in front of the big burning wolf with my heart pumping which felt like a really good introduction of its own.


#13

That might be true. If it is possible, Cage is most certainly not the person to do it.


#14

Doom 2016 and NieR: Automata recently.


#15

Saints Row The Third. Kanye West’s “Power”. 'Nuff said.


#16

#17

Came here to say this.


#18

Metal Gear Rising. You fight a mech, run along missiles that have been fired at you by the mech, and run up a clock tower in order to cut the mech in half. It opens with a bang and still somehow finds ways to escalate.from there.


#19

Medal of Honor Frontline’s first level. It’s a very iconic setting that sets the tone for the game; storming the beaches of Normandy on D Day.

Over time the first level of Lumines Puzzle Fusion has become a stand out for me. It must be one of the best Lumines levels of all time.

Speaking of beginnings to games, I want to take a second to talk about Half Life. It is an opening sequence that would never be made today. It must take like 45 minutes to an hour before the player gets a gun. Maybe it’s just 20 minutes but feels longer. Either way, that would be focus tested out of existence these days.


#20

I would add the opening to Half-Life 2 (as well as all of the non-interactive information dumps). Not quite as mind-numbing, but still boring. I understand what they were trying to do, but every second that series takes you out of the action and forces you to sit in an interactive cut-scene, they could be pushing the momentum forward. Portal did it right, so hopefully the next Half-Life takes notice.