Follow TV Tropes


Establishing Series Moment / Video Games

Go To

  • Alice: Madness Returns: The intro includes several surreal and disturbing images (such as Alice's head inside Hatter's head inside the Queen's head, and a centaur rolling a baby carriage with a doll in it, which then lights on fire) with the voiceover of Dr. Bumby giving therapy to Alice. Then the scene goes to the rabbit and her on a boat, drinking tea. The rabbit's head starts to bleed and then completely bursts into black goo. The boat sinks, and hands reach out from the water and pull her underwater while ripping her face off.
  • Advertisement:
  • In the opening sequence for Always Sometimes Monsters, a woman runs after a man pleading with him to stop, that she's changed her mind! Blowing off her protests, he replies that she'd already made her decision when she paid him, and there's no going back now. Dealing with the fallout of one's choices is a major theme in the game.
  • The trailer for the first Assassin's Creed - which is also the opening cutscene - shows a hooded Altaïr looking out at an execution taking place from on top of a bell tower, disappearing when the bell passes between him and the camera, reappearing in the crowd below, and making his way through the crowd. Gently at first, but after the guards begin to suspect him, he yanks one guard off the platform with a crossbow and shoots the other before launching himself onto his target with the trademark Assassin leaping kill with his Hidden Blade. More guards come and Altaïr legs it, leaping across rooftops over their heads until they have him cornered in front of a building, or so they think. The doors behind Altaïr open as he smiles to himself before disappearing in the crowd of white-robed scholars. This scene shows pretty much everything you need to know about the series (with the exception of the crossbow, which was cut from the game, but appears in Brotherhood) in less than two minutes, including Parkour, planning a kill, dispatching guards, social stealth, and moving through crowds, all of which feature prominently in the series.
    • The sequel's trailer/opening movie likewise shows off all the new features of the game. Two men, accompanied by a group of guards, go to a party in Venice during the Renaissance, while two courtesans are paid for something in a back alley. Later, at the party, the courtesans approach the two men and manage to lure one of them into the crowd, away from his guards. By the time he realizes how vulnerable he is, Ezio, the one who paid the courtesans, shows up from the crowd and slits his throat. The other man sics his guards at Ezio and runs, while Ezio easily dispatches the guards, with their own weapons, and pursues across the rooftops of Venice. The man manages to meet up with new guards and orders them to ambush them from behind an archway while the man himself tries to bait Ezio into it. Ezio sees through the ambush and then instead shoots the man down with the Hidden Gun. All this tells you everything you need to know about the game's new features: hiring people to help get to your target, using the public crowds to hide yourself, counterattacking with your opponent's weapons, and incorporating new weaponry into your assassinations, while still following the formula set by the first game.
  • Advertisement:
  • How do you know Bangai-O Spirits is going to be Nintendo Hard? When you're all done with the tutorial stages (it's very plausible for the average player to die in it, by the way!), the characters outright explain how to open up the cheat menu.
  • Bayonetta establishes its general over-the-top tone in the prologue, when the praying nun leaping up towards descending angels suddenly starts beating the hell out of them. Then her outfit gets slashed in questionable places, so she tears it all off and makes a suit out of her hair. While unloading several rounds of bullets in more angels, provided by a guy who takes a coffin lid to the head and doesn't even flinch.
    • And the epic tone is established even earlier than that in its OPENING SCENE, which has Bayonetta and Jeanne battling angels on top of a falling clocktower, throwing you right into the action at the get-go as the narration talks about the Umbra Witches and the Lumen Sages, their role as guardians of the Eyes of the World, and their civil war. And the music that's playing as you're doing all this? "One of a Kind." Strap in, ladies and gentlemen, because you are in for a goddamn ride.
  • BioShock starts with a plane crash, leads directly into a view of a beautiful underwater city, and THAT'S immediately followed by a man being gutted in front of your eyes by some kind of super human insane woman.
  • Every game in the Borderlands series begins with a skag being carelessly hit by a car, accompanied by the game's Real Song Theme Tune and an introduction to the playable characters. It shows off the brutal, over the top nature of Pandora, but also the relatively lighthearted tone the games are known for.
    • Played With in the title screen for Tales from the Borderlands, which shows Rhys and Vaughn arriving on Pandora and driving to a nearby town before accidentally hitting a skag. Unlike in the other games, Rhys immediately stops the car and panics briefly with Vaughn about having killed something; showing that, although Tales is indeed a Borderlands game, it is a Point-and-Click instead of the usual FPS and so is far more focused on characters and dialogue than on combat.
  • Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 begins with Yuri mind controlling someone over the phone, as an omen of how crazy this game has become.
  • Command & Conquer: Tiberian Dawn began with someone watching TV about the tiberium infestation before settling on a soap opera, as a sign of the game's cheesiness.
  • The first chest you find in the intro/tutorial of Darkest Dungeon is guaranteed to be booby-trapped, an omen to the fact that it is a vicious and brutal game.
  • Copy Kitty's Hard Mode campaign begins with Boki dismissively wondering just how hard Hard Mode can be. Cue a nigh-unwinnable stage jam-packed with tons of tough enemies while the entire floor's covered in lava. Savant then realizes that he accidentally cranked the difficulty up too high.
  • Cruelty Squad opens with your depressed loser of a protagonist being getting a call from his employer about a wetwork job whilst he watches a mass shooting outside a window, establishing how the world sees loss of life and the game's sense of humour. All of this is shown in garish, low-polygon graphics, as well.
  • Dark Souls: After the epic intro cinematic of gods clashing against dragons and the Age of Fire beginning the fade, you set off through the Undead Asylum, only for a gigantic hammer-wielding demon to drop down in front of you. Bloated, twisted, corrupted and very hostile, the Asylum Demon will kill you in seconds if you don't flee. Then after recovering your equipment and receiving your Estus Flask, you go back for a rematch, and this time you actually have to topple the towering abomination if you want to see the rest of the game. Prepare to Die.
  • The first cutscenes of Devil May Cry and Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening together establish the mood of the franchise as a whole.
    • In the first game, after establishing the setting involves the supernatural and demons, a woman drives her bike into the office of Dante, professional demon hunter, who fires off a quip at her entrance. The woman, Trish, then stabs Dante with his own sword, electrocutes him, and throws her bike at him, while mockingly asking whether his father ever taught him to use a sword. In response, Dante whips out two handguns, shoots the bike away and then reveals his demonic heritage by pulling his sword out of his chest. Welcome to Devil May Cry, the Anime-esque Urban Fantasy where wisecracks win the day and Rule of Cool are the laws of physics.
    • After the poor reception of the second game, particularly in regards to its weak combat and generically edgy and monotone interpretation of Dante, the third game introduces a younger incarnation, whose first action of answering a phone is done as dramatically possible. Then, when he gets attacked, he ignores the gun on the ground to grab a slice of pizza, punches a jukebox into operation, skates on a demon, and kills several more with a ricocheting spray of pool balls. Then the first stage begins. Welcome to Devil May Cry 3: Capcom profusely apologizes for last time and is now giving you more of what you want, turned Up to Eleven.
  • Disgaea: Hour of Darkness sets its tone with this line at the end of the first chapter:
    Laharl: Who gives a damn about you? Your new name is "Mid-boss".
  • The Doom Game Mod Deus Vult II starts off as a very good map set... and then tosses the map "Minas Morgul" at you, a giant fortress with several hordes of hundreds of monsters, hinting that it's all Marathon Levels and The War Sequences from now on.
  • The very first thing that happens in DOOM (2016) is the player-as-Doomguy waking up chained to a stone slab, naked, in a base filled with demons, ripping out his chains and crushing a zombie's head to paste with his bare hands. This within the first 15 seconds of the game. The moment Mission Control starts trying to give you an expository lecture, Doomguy takes the computer and casually smashes it. No Info Dumps in this game: from this point onwards, it's hyper-intense, hyperviolent Genre Throwback action all the way down.
  • No matter which origin you pick in Dragon Age: Origins, it always shows the game's dark fantasy setting, from a noblemen taking all the women for his own pleasure to mages at the mercy of Templars who have no qualms about killing or giving the magical equivalent of a lobotomy to any who could become a threat.
  • In EarthBound Beginnings, before you leave your bedroom where the game starts, a lamp comes to life and attacks you.
  • Façade begins with your character arriving outside the apartment door of the married couple you're visiting and overhearing a heated argument, cluing you in to how they are only pretending to have a happy marriage. When Trip, the husband, opens the door to greet you, he'll respond according to what you say next, and even slam the door in your face if he's sufficiently offended, giving you an idea of how difficult your task is.
  • As soon as you've finished naming your characters, Final Fantasy II throws you into a battle you're guaranteed to lose in 2 rounds, establishing the overall masochistic difficulty and willingness to kill off characters.
  • Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy X-2 have an interesting example in that both games' moments say a great deal about them individually and in comparison to each other. The first game begins with the monster known as Sin attacking the dream version of the futuristic city of Zanarkand, resulting in Tidus being thrown into a world where his hometown's a distant memory, and people will do anything for a temporary reprieve from Sin. The latter game begins with a pop concert held by someone impersonating Yuna, showcasing the game's Lighter and Softer nature. The contrast between those openings was not lost on some players, especially those who didn't think X-2 measured up to X.
  • Fire Emblem Fates does this immediately after its Big First Choice, setting the tone of both routes. Choose the more forgiving Birthright? Corrin starts surrounded by half-a-dozen Hoshidan allies with one axe fighter to worry about as Ryoma tears Xander apart to end the mission swiftly. Choose the traditional-style difficulty of Conquest? It's six-on-five, you're at a disadvantage thanks to being spread out and at least one character being dead weight, your only backup for the next mission can get prematurely perma-killed, you have to defeat four of the five enemies, and Ryoma and Xander's duel is still one-sided against you.
    • Story-wise, both routes get one in the first mission after the split. In Birthright, you fight off an Nohrian attack on Fort Jinya (which, for all intents and purposes, is a hospital), and one of the attackers turns out to be your character's Childhood Friend, Silas, showing that even if Nohr is the aggressor in this war, you'll still have to fight many sympathetic characters after siding with Hoshido. In Conquest, your character nearly gets sentenced to death after returning home, and is offered a chance for redemption by suppressing the Ice Tribe revolt- in this case, you get a taste of how difficult it can be for the Nohrian siblings to do the right thing while under King Garon's thumb.
  • You've been told that Half-Life is a first-person shooter, but at almost a half hour into playing, there hasn't been much action and the experience has been more akin to an adventure game. That is, until you don the HEV suit for the first time, upon which the suit's voice announces that it has a built-in munitions monitoring system. Only ten minutes later, half the people in the facility are horribly killed while others are turned into zombies. Grab the gun off of that dead security guard and prepare to shoot some aliens, because you're about to find out why this game has been credited as one of the most influential games of the first-person shooter genre.
    • Alternatively, let's say you're a fan of first-person shooters. You pick up Half-Life, expecting it to be just like Doom or Wolfenstein; as soon as you start the game, you pick up again and start shooting. But you begin the game only to find that you're riding in a tram inside some research facility. Along the way you see scientists and guards going about their business and a man in a suit talking to someone. The game identifies you as 27-year-old research associate Gordon Freeman. As the tram arrives, you say to yourself, Well surely after this I'll get to shooting, but no. Instead, you check in at a front desk, your co-workers greeting you and going about their business. You are told to get into a radiation suit and head down to the testing chamber to perform an experiment, and this is when you realize this will be a more in-depth, immersive, developed FPS than ever seen before.
  • I Wanna Be the Guy:
    • In the first screen, whichever path you take, the game kills you lightning quick once. When you think you've figured out the pattern of the obstacle, be it spike wall or Delicious Fruit, and even pass one or two of them, the game suddenly reverses its behavior on the next one, killing you, and you can just imagine it laughing at you for thinking you had it figured out. This is the iconic moment of the game; the fruit falling up and killing you.
    • I Wanna Be the Guy: Gaiden steps its game up by trying to kill you on the world map before you even begin the first proper stage.
  • Kaizo Mario World starts by dropping a Thwomp on you before you even get to the map screen to select the first level.
  • The Trails Series is an odd one because the trope name moment where things truly happen only does that during the final hours of The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky First Chapter. However, the game does establish that the overall series is not just going to be some simple adventure whatsoever. At first your main characters seem like ordinary people with an ordinary cast until the final hours of the game. This trend also continues with The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero and The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel.
  • The opening video of the first Left 4 Dead contains every single bit of gameplay you needed to know when the game was released (updates added a few tweaks here and there). Things ranging from 'when you fall, you can keep on shooting with your pistol' to 'don't shine a light in a witch's eyes' to 'you can shut a door on zombies to hold them off a while'. And then it's all capped off with this exchange after they've barely escaped with their lives, which hammers in how dire the situation is:
    Louis: We made it... I can't believe we made it!
    Bill: Son, we just crossed the street. Let's not throw a party until we're out of the city.
  • At the beginning of the original The Legend of Zelda, you're given a choice of three directions to go, and a cave to walk in on the very first screen. Enjoy exploring this really huge world, guys!
  • Similarly, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild starts off with Link being tasked with finding treasures from four shrines on the Great Plateau, in exchange for the paraglider he needs to get down to the world below. Each of them is reached by learning about some aspect of gameplay, from surviving harsh weather conditions to boosting your own stamina with food, and each of them rewards a rune that you'll need to solve puzzles later on. The entire experience shows that Breath of the Wild is less linear and more focused on exploration than some previous games, and this is even before the wider world opens up.
  • Mass Effect 2 starts with The Illusive Man discussing with a lieutenant Shepard's importance, and how humanity only has a chance at survival as long as s/he is kept alive. The next scene is an introduction of the Normandy and her crew, similar to the first game's, which is suddenly interrupted by the Collector Cruiser appearing and tearing the Normandy apart in a stunningly one-sided battle that ends in Shepard's death, announcing the series' turn into much Darker and Edgier territory that would continue further in the third game.
  • You fight your very first boss in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance roughly ten minutes into the first mission. Said boss? A Metal Gear with sword-arms, a beam-cannon for head and so many rockets you will use them as platforms to get to it, but what really cements this fight as an establishing moment is how you can and will cut it to ribbons while RULES OF NATURE plays in the background. If that didn't convince you this would be an absolutely spectacular game, nothing will.
    • It also serves as a contrast to the main Metal Gear Solid series. In a standard MGS game, a Metal Gear would be the final boss. In Revengeance? Merely the opening act.
  • Before the gameplay begins in Metal Wolf Chaos, a cutscene shows Metal Wolf, piloted by President Michael Wilson, jumping out of the Oval Office in a fiery explosion, shouting in glorious, cheesy Engrish "OKAY, LET'S PARRRTY!"
  • The first screen in Metroid serves as this. Up until then, it was habit of gamers to go right on the first screen because of such games as Super Mario Bros. Suddenly, you reach an unpassable structure and are forced to go left, which made many a gamer realize that this was going to be a game of much exploration.
  • The introduction to No More Heroes begins with the fourth wall-breaking "I know a lot of gamers out there don't have much patience," before Travis talks about his status as an Otaku entered into a deathmatch. This gives some idea of who Travis is supposed to represent and how seriously the game takes itself.
  • Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door begins with Mario getting a map to secret treasure, setting sail for another grand adventure... and then the player arrives in Rogueport, with mob violence in the background and a hangman's noose standing in the middle of the plaza. Within minutes, the game establishes a gritty setting with a sense of Black Comedy, without losing the franchise's light tone.
  • Persona
    • Persona 3 opens with the protagonist travelling through a crowded city late at night, listening to music on his way to his new school's dorm. Interspersed with this are scenes of a girl holding a pistol to her own head, nearly pulling the trigger before tossing it awaynote . After the protagonist arrives at the train station, the power cuts out, the sky and moon turning a sickly green, blood appears on many surfaces, and everyone else transforms into coffins. He simply shrugs and carries on. At the dorm, he runs into the same girl, now with the gun holstered. She's stopped from drawing it by another girl, then the power comes back and the night returns to normal.
    • Persona 4 has one that isn't initially obvious. The introductory cinematic begins by showing an Idol Singer doing a commercial, then cuts to a story about an affair between a politician and a news announcer. Within a few minutes of meeting his uncle and cousin, the protagonist meets and has a brief conversation with the gas station attendant (and, in the Updated Re-release, can also speak with a strange girl and happen upon two siblings arguing). On the protagonist's first day, he runs afoul of the Sadist Teacher in charge of his homeroom, meets and gets to know three of his classmates, sees a guy who's stalking one of the girls he just met and witnesses a Vomiting Cop run from a crime scene. It turns out that all of these characters are very significant to the narrative, going to show that even seemingly minor details and characters can be very important in this game.
    • In contrast to previous games, which tended to have the protagonist be downright ordinary until sucked into the plot, Persona 5 begins with a brief but extremely flashy ability showcase... followed by the protagonist being cornered and arrested by a team of at least fifty cops in full riot gear, subjected to nauseating Police Brutality, forced to sign a confession that runs all the way up to murder, and then sat down to be interrogated by a public prosecutor. Flash back to the beginning of the game... where the protagonist already has a criminal record for assault, which he got from stopping a crooked politician from trying to rape his date, and is spending his year's probation living in the attic of a cafe owned by someone he barely knows and going to a school where nobody wants anything to do with him.
  • Prince of Persia: Warrior Within establishes itself as Darker and Edgier than The Sands of Time by the Prince yelling "You bitch!" after getting slashed in the face by Shahdee.
  • Resident Evil: The first enemy you encounter is busy eating one of your fallen STARS comrades. Then, in one of the most iconic scenes in video game history, it slowly turns around and sets its sights on you.
  • Shin Megami Tensei I starts out normal, with the hero's mother waking him up and chatting with him. Half an hour later, the hero returns home and discovers that she was eaten by a demon in his absence, establishing a series-long trend of tragedies out of the hero's control and the deaths of those close to them.
  • Silent Hill: Harry Mason wakes up after crashing his jeep to find his young daughter missing. He wanders into the titular town, which is blanketed in a thick, snowy fog and eerily deserted, and after chasing a girl he thinks is his daughter into an alley, he finds a mutilated dog as air raid sirens start going off. This is where things take a VERY frightening turn; Harry's surroundings grow darker and he can barely see two feet in front of him, the snow turns to rain, there's blood everywhere and rusty fencing and hospital equipment popping up. Then he reaches a dead end and sees an eviscerated human corpse strung up by wires. Then monsters that look like deformed children with knives swarm Harry and stab him to death. Then he wakes up in a diner. Between the camera angles, murky visuals, and horrific noises and music, this entire sequence perfectly sets the tone for what Harry, and you, are about to experience for the next several hours.
  • The opening trailer that plays when you start up Skullgirls includes several shots from the game's various cutscenes. In choosing these shots the developers did not feel the need to stray away from some of the things that earned the game its T for Teen rating, including Ricardo cutting Ms. Fortune's head off and the creation of Painwheel.
  • The modern three-dimensional Sonic the Hedgehog games are known for being more story-heavy than 2D ones, with many cutscenes including at the beginning of the game before the player can even move around in the Hub Level to get to the first level. How does the Wii version of Sonic Colors let you know that things are going to be different? After picking "New Game" and deciding whether to have the navigator on or off, Tropical Resort: Act 1 immediately begins.
  • Starcraft starts off fine except for these weird bug things. Man, Mar Sara has some dangerous fauna. Next thing you know, the ground's alive, buildings are infested, the government is evil, the zerg are killing everything, the protoss glass the planet, and there's not a laugh to be had. This isn't like a silly Command and Conquer rip-off.
  • The first level of the first Super Mario Bros. game gives you a good demonstration of the mechanics. In the first set of blocks, you can find a mushroom that makes you grow large, enabling you to break the blocks made out of bricks, Just as you start to think that the brick blocks are useless, one gives you multiple coins and another gives you an invincibility-granting star. The first level also has a shortcut in one of the pipes that gives you some coins for virtually no effort along the way. All this shows that the Mario franchise involves exploration in surprisingly interactive environments.
  • The first level of Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels establishes just how much more difficult the game is than its predecessor. The first enemy you come across is a Paratroopa bouncing towards Mario instead of The Goomba walking slowly, the block where you would expect to find the first powerup instead has a Poison Mushroom, and the actual first powerup is impossible to reach without hitting a block under it as it moves, bouncing it out of its caged off area. All of this happens in the first screen of the game.
  • At the start of Super Mario World, Mario begins at Yoshi's house, and has the choice of going to one of two levels, which can be done in any order. The right path takes the player to a series of levels that leads to the first castle and to the rest of the game, but the left path will take the player to the Yellow Switch Palace, which will open up blocks in other levels. This shows that the game rewards exploration, and that the right thing to do isn't always the obvious thing.
  • Tetris: The Grand Master quickly establishes that it's not a casual Tetris game with the level counter: players will almost immediately notice that their level goes up not every 10 lines as per Tetris tradition, but with every piece dropped and every line cleared.
  • Most players of Undertale would think they have to whittle down the health of the first boss if they want to spare her, only to wind up killing her by accident, prompting a reset. After the retry in which the boss is spared, Flowey pops up to guilt-trip the player, mocking them that they killed her, had to reset the game to bring her back, and for thinking that killing her before didn't matter. Welcome to a Deconstructor Fleet for RPGs where almost the whole cast has Medium Awareness.
    • The sequel, Deltarune, gets another moment before proper gameplay even begins. The game opens with a mysterious voice telling you to create a character, giving you various options for different appearance customizations, as well as various personality traits such as favorite color and favorite blood type. Players familiar with the first game will likely agonize over the choices, wondering how they will end up impacting the gameplay. Finally you get to the end, and the game praises the vessel you have created...before immediately throwing it out because there's already a preset Player Character and you don't get a say in who they are. This moment represents how Deltarune is in many ways a Spiritual Antithesis to Undertale, with the choices you make having little to no impact on the story as a whole.
      Will now be discarded.
      No one can choose who they are in this world.
  • War Craft III begins with a human and an orc from two opposing armies viciously slugging it out, until a shooting star crashes spectacularly into the ground nearby. Setting aside their conflict, the two enemies approach the crater with a mixture of caution and curiosity... then the meteor reveals itself to be a giant vaguely-humanoid rock creature wreathed in green flame, which promptly kills them both. No, this isn't going to be a straightforward war with just two sides like the previous games.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: