Music makes such a big difference in games. And here I’d like to discuss some of my favorite uses of it.
(an unofficial list)
First of all, the Silent Hill series. Silent Hill has such richly textured atmosphere and a truly unique gaming environment. Akira Yamaoka’s scores had much to do with it’s creation. What would Silent Hill be without it music? Just a crap load of weird images and noises. It would be scary, definitely. But the music brings an emotional complexity to the Silent Hill world. It would never be the same without it. My favorite musical usage of the three games is 4: The Room. It has many pleasing musical moments. One in particular was made one of my favorite Silent Hill moments just because of the music! I’m referring to the “return to the apartment” when “resting comfortably” over Henry’s exploration, echoing in the red halls. Silent Hill 2 also has many notably great music moments.
Next is Mass Effect – the original – not 2 or 3. Mass Effect’s music is simply terrific. The oddball electronic/futuristic noises combined with solid and interesting melodies. They really are able to elevate the game and not just rest as background noise. What is probably my favorite video game moment of all time came from this game, and it’s mostly because of the music – During the exploration of Ilos, Shepard and crew discover the ancient Prothean cryo-chambers and the virtual intelligence named, Vigil. Shepard then begins to ask vigil about all the mysteries of the universe and Vigil does its best to answer while the song, also called “vigil”, plays. It’s a beautiful videogame moment if there ever was one.
I have to also mention Mirror’s Edge. The menu theme is really beautiful. And the glitch-style electronic music helps to add a LOT of excitement to the chase scenes. I actually listen to Solar Fields’ (the game’s music composer) solo work and love it. So I am biased. But I think it’s obvious that the atmospheric/ambient tracks add a great deal of dimension to the sparkling rooftop environments.
Lastly, I will mention Skyrim. I think I’m probably the only one who likes Skyrim’s music. Yeah, it’s kind of hoky, and the music-scripting is really random-seeming some of the time – you will be walking along the trails shooting at rabbits while an overkillingly powerful crescendo of orchestra plays as background music. It’s kind of funny, but the music itself is very well-made. And… it does sometimes match up with what’s going on, like when you find a really nice view of the landscape.
If any readers have any at all thoughts on this subject, I encourage you to comment.