As anyone who has written a school essay would know, an introduction needs to do two things: 1) offer a preview of the essay’s content, and 2) set the appropriate tone. Extra points for putting in a joke or two to build anticipation.
When it comes to art, such as video games, there are an infinite number of creative ways to do this, and even more ways to get it badly wrong. Too much exposition and the intro will be regarded as dull; too little and it will be confusing. Too much action and it will tire the player out; too little and you will lose them. It’s a delicate balancing act and developers need to work jolly hard to successfully walk the line.
Still, it can be done. Other lists have already provided us with some outstanding examples, from Bioshock’s iconic reveal of Rapture, to DOOM 2016’s action-packed shotgun to the face of an opening, to The Last of Us’ slow build-up of terror and emotionally crushing conclusion.
But there are other intro sequences just as good, if not better, which you’ll struggle to find on such lists. Time to put that right, and show some love to sequences that have long slipped under the radar but deserve to take their rightful place among the greatest.
10. Bayonetta 2
This intro is difficult to describe. As is the case with the first game, Bayonetta 2 will leave newcomers more than a bit confused: the sexual objectification is anything but subtle, the visuals are near incomprehensible and while the action choreography is MCU levels of slick you’ll still be completely baffled as to what is going on.
It gets worse. The game waltzes into the prologue with all the laid-back, tongue-in-cheek espièglerie of a Sean Connery Bond, introducing first not the titular character but a man struggling to carry a mountain of presents. The first sight we have of Bayonetta herself is of her enjoying a lollipop while plopping yet more presents onto the pile.
But then, on a dime, the mood shifts. Imminent danger and Bayonetta’s intelligence both are communicated through a single perceptive glance, her keen wit and bewitching charm through some genuinely sharp banter, and her close friendship with Jeanne through the ease in which they interact. Quickly you realize that far from being dumb the game is being very, very clever.
And when the game proceeds to show Bayonetta’s raw power by having her literally punt a jet into the air, and then ups the spectacle to eleven by taking the battle to the New York skyline using the fighter as a stage, the in-house remix of ‘Fly Me To The Moon’ playing in the background, you understand perfectly what Bayonetta 2 is all about.
And there’s a great big Cheshire Cat-like grin on your face when you do.