Why Dark Souls’ Opening Works So Well

Dark Souls opens in the Northern Undead Asylum.

You start in your cell. An item drops through a hole in the ceiling so you learn how to pick an item up. This enables you to open the door to your cell, teaching you how to interact with doors and that keys can open locked doors. Enemies in the hall are docile so you can learn to attack, risk-free. To your right you can see a mid-game optional boss that’s pretty big, so you learn to observe before charging in all LEROY JENKINS style. You climb up a ladder, teaching you how to interact with them and the stamina consumption that comes with it. You interact with a bonfire and learn about it’s healing properties and that it acts as a safe zone. If you go back the way you came you learn that interacting with a bonfire also re-spawns enemies in the area.

You head through two huge doors and if you gaze up you see another big ass demon, again teaching you to observe but HOLY SHIT IT DROPPED FROM THE CEILING AND THE DOOR SLAMMED SHUT. You learn – quickly – run and observe your environment as with no weapon you’d have to be Dr Alx levels of Pro to kill this boss so you dart into a side corridor and find another bonfire. Safety.

You carry on into a long hallway and an archer at the far end peppering you with shots so you pick up a shield and learn how to equip gear and deflect arrows and then charge up, picking up a weapon from a corpse along the way. Now you can attack the first hostile, non boss, enemy. You proceed through a Fog Gate, the Souls’ series way of gating certain areas or segments of the game and also locking the player in an area during invasions or boss fights.

You see a knight through a broken gate but the wall round the corner is crumbling so you run up the stairs and an iron ball comes tumbling down. Maybe you dive out of the way in time but regardless it smashes through the broken wall and teaches you about environmental hazards. You talk to the knight and he gives you an objective and the Estus Flask healing items. You proceed up the stairs and take out the enemy who just tried to kill you and go through the Fog Gate behind him. You encounter two melee enemies and a ranged enemy and learn how to handle multi target and multi-ranged encounters. You then find an enemy with a spear and shield, and learn how to either kick the shield away or bait them into an attack.

You then proceed through a fog gate and overlook the big bad boss you ran away from earlier. It’s time to perform a drop attack and teach him some manners.

All of this without telling you any of it.