“BioShock” is one of the best video games of all time.
It’s universally beloved by fans and critics, but it’s the game’s opening sequence that helped make it so iconic and memorable.
If you haven’t experienced “BioShock” on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, or PC — or even if you have — the opening sequence sets the tone for the entire game: It’s thrilling, eerie, utterly beautiful, and masterfully directed.
If you don’t know much about the game, or even if you do, it’s best to go into the opening sequence without knowing what’s about to happen.
As you climb the steps to the lighthouse, you realise how quiet and desolate it is. Whatever happens next, you're going alone.
The doors of the lighthouse close behind you, and all the lights suddenly come on at once to reveal a hulking, haunting statue.
The descending stairwells seem to go on and on. It's not clear where you're going, but you have few options at this point.
At the very bottom of the stairs, you see a bathysphere -- a beautifully crafted pod on rails, which suddenly descends into the ocean when you pull the lever.
A man named Andrew Ryan comes through the speakerphone, and begins describing his idea for an underwater utopia -- free from religion and government control, where science can thrive. He calls it Rapture.
The vistas of Rapture are stunning -- it's a welcome reprieve from the tension and creepiness of exploring that isolated lighthouse.
You finally surface inside a dark room. The lights flicker as a human pleads with a threatening mutant holding two scythes in his hands.
After the mutant dispatches the innocent man, it suddenly jumps on top of your pod and tries to open it. This seems like certain death.
Suddenly, the splicer vanishes, and your door opens. It could still be in the room with you, but you can't go back now. You must keep moving forward...
When 2K Games released a free demo for the game before its release in 2007, which included this opening sequence, it became the fastest demo at the time to reach one million downloads on Xbox Live. For good reason: At the outset, the game subtly directs you without explicitly telling you what to do. And it is dripping with atmosphere -- when it's scary or when it's beautiful, 'Bioshock' is intentional every step of the way. Every inch of Rapture is detailed, even in its decrepitude, and the game is as much about exploration and witnessing emotionally-gripping scenes play out as it is progressing your character and finding a way out of the city.
It's a wonderful, carefully-crafted game -- and the opening sequence sets the perfect tone. It's a big reason why gamers love to visit (and return to) Rapture.