Imagine this with me for a second. You're playing your favorite video game. You're looking out to the landscape of the world the developers have created for you to explore/discover/survive in and then a single note kicks in. Then a full song. String, wind, and brass instruments fill the aural environment and now you're fully immersed. You're in the game.
When games have exceptional soundtracks it adds another layer to the game that wouldn't have been there without the music. Sometimes intense moments feel a little more white-knuckled and other times the quieter more subtle moments are made more beautiful. Below I have a list of 3 games and their soundtracks that really put me into the game.
The Last of Us
When I first heard the song above play while I started up the game, I already knew it would be a different, maybe a little more serious, experience. Gustavo Santolalla's work on the soundtrack couldn't have been any more perfect than it already is. The Last of Us exists in between a place of video game and movie and by getting an Academy Award winning composer like Santolalla underlines this idea. The music builds with the narrative most times and it adds a weight to the game that wouldn't be there without his music.
Red Dead Redemption
I try to talk about Red Dead Redemption as much as I can. As one of my favorite games, there was a lot I loved about it. It's soundtrack being one of the things that are high up on that list. The music in the game was recorded in a way that allowed the song to come up with songs depending on what the player was doing at any given moment. If you were in a chase, drums would show up. As you galloped on your horse, a bass line would speed up or slow down. It really let the player take in everything around them. With a game as beautiful as Red Dead Redemption, this kind of music is necessary. It gives the player a much-needed rest from the constant gun-fights of the game's narrative.
This particular soundtrack is one that sits with me for a lot of reasons, most of them personal. But I honestly come back to this soundtrack whenever I get the chance. In a game that has no dialogue, the music is the star. Even just listening to the full soundtrack (which I left above for you, instead of a single song) you can form a narrative within your head. It's somehow larger-than-life and deeply personal. As a whole, it's a beautiful piece of art. No wonder it was the first video game soundtrack to be nominated for a Grammy back in 2012.
What's your favorite soundtrack? And by this, I mean more of a score and less of a collection of songs the company licensed to put in the game. Are there any that stick out in your guys' mind?
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