Abyssal Pixels: Soundtrack To Greatness
I’m a musical person. Ever since I was a little
spawn of Satan innocent child I’ve had this natural rhythm embedded inside of me. I was a natural dancer before I turned into a chubby reincarnation of the Undertaker as well. This affected my gaming life to a certain extent when I discovered Guitar Hero and I discovered my natural talent for shredding a plastic guitar and banging on some tupperware circles (drums, if you didn’t catch the reference). At this present day, I’m an avid listener of music and even went so far as to study the cultures behind my favourite genres. So, in short, I love music. I’m a fan of most of the more musical genres including orchestra, jazz, blues, rock and heavy metal.
I say all that because as someone that has a keen ear for music, gaming soundtracks are very important. I hear things that other people might not because of my extensive history with music. Game soundtracks have evolved simultaneously with other mechanics of games such as graphical capabilities and gameplay mechanics. They have evolved into something that can conjure up emotions inside of a person and make them feel things they would never have felt in their lives.
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I’m sure most of us have already played Telltale’s The Walking Dead already and most of the people that have played the game to completion will agree that it can stir up so many emotions inside of you that it’s ridiculous. Even I cried at the game’s conclusion, something that is extremely hard to pull off. It wasn’t just the events that made it so emotional, but the audio backdrop that it had. It’s very soft, but if you have a keen ear, you will hear every string and piano note that plays. This intensified the emotional experience tenfold, at least for me.
Numerous other games pull this off as well. More recently there was a game where I certainly did not expect a melodic orchestral score being done, but managed to pull it off rather nicely. That game was Crysis 3 of all things. I had the luxury of experiencing it with my new headphones that I got for myself and it was a rather excellent soundtrack that took me completely by surprise. I would just sit in the game’s pause menu and just listen to the music for a fair amount of time before going back into the action.
Mass Effect 3 is a stellar example of a more emotional backdrop with its incredibly composed orchestral pieces. Just listen to this song and you will know exactly what I’m talking about. I’m listening to it as I’m typing and it’s sending chills down my spine and causing goosebumps to pop up all over. That’s the power of a well composed soundtrack. If it’s able to invoke feelings of any kind then it has done its job brilliantly. If a song is able to draw out tears using nothing but a few vibrations on strings then it’s magic.
Enough with the emotional stuff, let’s go in the juxtaposing direction. High octane, adrenaline pumping intensity that’s only fueled by a high energy music that makes you want to punch people in the face and love every second of it. A more recent example can be found in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. It’s music is so high tempo and invigorating that you get this joyous smile on your face as you’re cutting up other people’s faces. Other high action games use this formula a lot to intensify the action and destruction. The Devil May Cry games have been continually excellent in creating a very high energy backdrop for their combat sequences. The heavy riffs and intense vocals make you unknowingly bang your head back and forth as you slice up some demons. DmC exploited this formula brilliantly with its high tempo “technometal” fusions. The pumping bass and heavy riffs do an excellent job at increasing your adrenaline levels and making killing demons a joyous event rather than a traditional murdering.
There are tons of other memorable soundtracks that create a beautiful backdrop to the fictional world. Too many to list actually. Some of you reading this are already compiling (heh) your favourite soundtracks from games in your mind and I appeal you to share those favourites with me.