Really quick: Some of this article merely reflects an opinion on stuff. Music taste is objective! Also some minor
Music in videogames is essential.Games would be boring without it.
Imagine yourself running through a dungeon slaying demons and all you hear is echoes of blades crossing and the sounds of your ennemies’ skulls crushing under the brute force of your sword.
Well that backfired, that sounds pretty awesome.
And yet, it goes from awesome to epic with the correct underlay of sound.
Now music in games comes in a few categories (I love to categorize stuff!):
- Ambient music
- Setting the mood for action
- Intros and identity music.
Let’s start with the latter: Identity music. It is the soundtrack of a game. If you hear it, you immediately recognize the game. The most prominent and also one of the oldest examples would be Tetris. Everybody knows that 8-bit soundtrack!
But there are other examples, one of which is rather recent, the intro-soundtrack of Planet Coaster:
It just makes you feel good. And even if you aren’t quite in the mood to log on and build some rollercoaster, some part really wants to launch this game. I chose this example because it catches the essence of a child in the car on the road to a theme park. It catches the excitement, the expectations and, a little bit, being exhausted after a fun day in Megaland(c).
And while planet coaster does a real good job with their music scores, this intro still is the most interesting.
One last example:
The intro of my favourite Final Fantasy game.
Ambient music, on the other hand, often goes unseen. It just is.
Here’s an example of a titan of a game: Skyrim.
You’d notice if this background harmonies disappeared, but at first, you wouldn’t know what’s wrong.
Ambient music adds to immersion and by that, give a feeling of being right there, in your character’s place.
Most of the time, ambient music is quite positive, inviting, natural. But as with everything, there are exceptions. Good exceptions!
This is the legendary tristram guitar piece from Diablo 1 and 2. It is just so iconic, yet perfectly sets the unsettling mood of a world drowning in the grotesque. Diablo would have totally lost it’s flair, if you replaced this piece by one of the Sims’ building music (which is nice in it’s own way)
Setting you in the mood. This is the sound of “damn, shit’s about to hit the fan”. Oftentimes also referred to as bosss themes. But not only that!
As far as boss themes go, this is the first one to come to my mind:
Sephiroth’s intimidating music. You know that you have to man up now!
But getting you started isn’t a boss only thing. Overwatch for example, has a really good, motivating lobby tune:
Don’t you want to charge into battle right now?
Another iconic example of battle music is Pokemon. The theme hasn’t changed much over the years, but it still remains exciting!
The last category is “other”. As it is quite hard to put them in groups. Some examples are well used existing tunes, like the playlist of Brütal Legend. (seems quite forgotten though)
Those are all pretty good standalone songs. But they are perfectly weaved into the mood of the game.
Here’s an example:
As I really like the scores of Final Fantasy, it is only natural that I put in another. This one is one of my favourites. It kind of completely reviews the game in an nice way. No doubt though that the video material and the cut plays a major role in this!
Thus concludes this small collection of interesting video games. There are exactly 5.698.412.254,333 other examples worth mentioning, but hey, I can’t think of everything. Is there something you would have liked to be added? Let me know!