Music in Games

Certain games are known for their soundtracks, and for good reason.

I’m not an expert when it comes to music. I don’t have a large number of songs on my phone, I don’t play any kind of instrument, and I a looking at a music sheet would probably make my head explode. That being said, I enjoy music, and some of my favorite games are memorable for me primarily due to the soundtrack.

Music add emotion to a scene, but this is nothing new. Music has accompanied media such as film and theatre long before the first videogame. A good soundtrack can emphasis the mood and themes of a scene, adding additional layers of depth to the player experience. Sometimes the best songs are the subtle ones, the ones that further push the player into an immersive experience without dominating the moment. It’s because of this that a game like Halo 3: ODST can be my favorite of the Halo series. Despite opinions that the game was not worth full price or that it was riding on the coat-tails of Halo 3, I found that the soundtrack of ODST was absolutely enchanting. Walking through the dark streets of an occupied New Mombasa with nothing but low, almost noir sounding, orchestral notes to keep me company gave me an experience you can’t find in the other Halo games. The soundtrack fits the tone of the narrative, and both elements of the game prosper from this relationship.

above link: ODST – Neon Night by Martin O’Donnell

Some time ago I wrote about Hotline Miami 2. The first Hotline game was praised for its soundtrack, and the sequel had a lot of high expectations to live up to. Both games have fast paced electronic soundtracks that emulate music of 80’s era disco. It’s energetic and it’s the perfect addition for running around like the animal mask-wearing maniac you are. At the end of levels, the soundtrack becomes much slower and calmer, creating a moment of rest until the chaos begins again in the next stage.

above link: Hotline Maimi 2 – Dust by M.O.O.N.

I often listen to the soundtracks of ODST or the Hotline series, among others, even while not playing the games they originate from. Music in games can make moments in the game, if not the game as a whole, that much more special. I’ve often seen discussions about game soundtracks be followed by people’s stories of some of their favorite musical moments in the game. Far Cry 3’s bizarre and chaotic dubstep filled field-burning mission comes to mind.

I’m going to turn the discussion to the comments. I’ve definitely not covered all the bases regarding video game music, so please comment if you have a favorite gaming song or soundtrack, or if you want to further discuss topics related music in games!

4 thoughts on “Music in Games

  1. A soundtrack that I really enjoy is the one for The Wolf Among Us. Right away with the opening credits to the game, the music sets a clear tone and really immerses you and totally places you in the world of a fairytale noir in New York. It’s great! It’s definitely one of those soundtracks that I could listen to all the time because of how much of an environment it creates. I definitely recommend giving it a listen to at some point if you’re interested!

    1. It’s the main character of the Hotline Miami. He’s who I am referring to when I wrote “the animal mask wearing maniac.” Definitely a weird guy.

  2. I find Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts soundtracks really nice for studying, particularly the ones composed by Nobuo Uematsu. If you’re in the mood for something a little more quaint and relaxing, the Animal Crossing soundtracks are great! Here’s a link to seven hours worth of Animal Crossing music:

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