As they say first impressions are incredibly important. Video games are no exception to this rule. It’s that idea that makes opening cinematics so important and often times they are some of the most memorable moments of a video game. With that, we have decided to bring you our top 10 opening cinematics in video games.
10. Tales of the Abyss
Tales of the Abyss’ opening, Karma, is one that hooks you right off the bat. An aerial battleship soars through the skies, and the game’s hero, Luke von Fabre, dives off of it into a horde of monsters in what appears to be an ancient citadel. It’s like a scene from the start of a Marvel movie, with Luke and his sword substituting for Captain America and his shield. From there on, the opening slows down a bit to introduce the main cast, giving us a detailed look at each of their fighting styles, interactions and as well as some of the locales seen throughout the game. The music flows with every frame of animation very smoothly, and it switches from soft and melodious to rocking and rolling at the drop of a dime. It feels like a professionally-made music video instead of an opening at times. All in all, Karma is a nice little taste of what to expect in the adventure to come.
D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die is one of those games that tries to emulate the style of a television show through episodic plot lines, cliffhangers, and a cinematic opening sequence. D4’s opening, appropriately titled “Theme of D4,” obviously took some influence from police/detective shows like CSI Miami and Angel. It even starts off with the age-old trope of a character saying some kind of quirky one-liner as the music fades in. Following that, you’ve got a long shot of Boston, freeze-frame cut-ins of the main cast (with colored nameplates to boot), quirky visual effects, and the jazzy piano, guitar, and saxophone combination that nearly every detective drama has. It sounds like it should be cliché, and it kind of is, but it has a sort of cheesy charm to it. It’s light, it’s groovy, and it’s just plain fun. Best of all, it makes you want to see just what mysteries lie in wait.
8. The World Ends with You
The World Ends with You’s opening, Twister, is a bit strange at first glance. The song has lyrics like “brainwave, mainframe, psycho got a high kick” and “morning rays, hairspray queens”. It sounds like nonsense, doesn’t it? The further you go into the game, though, the more it starts to make sense. The song’s lyrics reflect both the main character’s mindset and his surroundings in the Shibuya district of Tokyo and the gameplay mechanics themselves. For example, the line “collect and select, show you got the best set” refers to the pin-collecting aspect of the game, and there are more “aha” moments like this as the game goes on. The opening’s visuals are surprisingly lively considering the fairly limited power of the Nintendo DS’s hardware, using both screens to effectively give the player quick flashes of the game’s cast, setting, and story. If you spend too much time looking at one screen, however, you could miss a big clue that’s in plain sight on the other one. Pop on your headphones and let Twister take you for a spin.
7. Battleblock Theater
This opening may be a bit different than most of the others on here. it’s not here because of an incredible song or because it brings plenty of hype. This opening is on this list because it is hilarious. Voiced by the ever so talented Stamper, this opening sets the scene by introducing Hatty Hattington and his friends, the crew of the friend-ship, set sail in pursuit of a grand adventure as a precursor to the events soon to unfold.. While Stamper’s voice and silly sound effects are easily the highlight of this opening, I would be remiss to not mention the game’s charming visuals made to look like a play composed of adorable cardboard cutouts. This cinematic is incredibly unique and is one you should definitely experience.
6. Silent Hill 2
Back in 2001 players were treated to a strange opening that sees the main character, James, talking to an – at first – mysterious woman behind bars. It makes no sense, but that is what is so magical about this moment, it makes the player want to understand. It adds mystery. Bring in the music and everything starts to kick off. Random cutsscenes, completely out of context, showed off just what cinematic progress had been made between the first game and the second; broadcasting the appeal of the PS2 as a storytelling console. The randomness of the cinematic makes this intro memorable however, with bizarre looking characters interacting in bizarre context that just make players want to play through the game just to have a clue of what is going on. It also helps that Akira Yamaoka’s accompanying track, Theme of Laura, is a piece that players would want to watch the opening just to hear the song play.