Why is Music Important in a Video Game?
When you play a video game, you probably aren’t playing it because you heard the music in the game is spectacular. Most people decide to play a video game based off of the gameplay or story. While I agree that the soundtrack to a video game is not the most important aspect of the game, having a quality soundtrack, that adds emphasis to whatever is happening in the game, can really enhance your gameplay experience. In my time of playing video games, I have heard some really amazing game soundtracks. Today I am going to list my personal favorite video game soundtracks and why I enjoy them! I’ll also attach links for the soundtracks in the title of each game in case you want to go listen to some of the games’ great music.
This game definitely falls into a different category than the rest of the games on my Top Five List. But honestly one of the most impressive things about Stardew Valley is the music you hear as you go about playing the game! Eric Barone, the creator of Stardew Valley, wrote all of the music for Stardew Valley as well. The music is very calming, and there are dozens of songs you can hear while playing the game. The game has songs for every season, activity, and character. What impresses me about this game is that each individual song is VERY well written, and I get super excited when I’m playing and hear a theme I haven’t heard in a while.
I also really like that the game switches up what songs you hear pretty often so that you don’t get sick of any one song. Something I have noticed in similar games where songs tend to repeat is that they get stuck in my head, and I get really annoyed and end up hating the song. I have never had this problem with Stardew Valley.
The main reason I love the music in this game is because overall the type of music you hear really contributes to the small farming town vibe you feel in the game. And I feel that if a game’s soundtrack can draw you into a game even more, it was a really good soundtrack and did its job.
I was first introduced to Halo 2 by my dad and some cousins. At first I mostly played through Multiplayer Split-screen in the Custom Lobby Mode. But eventually I tried the Story Mode and really enjoyed it! There’s not any music in the Custom Lobby Mode, but that makes sense because the music would make it harder to focus on fighting other people playing against you. However, the music in the Story Mode is very well orchestrated. It has more of a heavy metal vibe with some choir vocals and electronic elements mixed in. The music really adds to the intensity of the battle against the Covenant.
The first time I really thought about the music in Halo is when I got to go to a concert where the band performed different Halo themes while also playing clips of Halo gameplay in the background. I think before I mostly focused on the gameplay of Halo. But when I actually took time to listen to the music, I really started to appreciate it and how it adds to the drama of the game.
I LOVE this game. And anyone who plays this game can tell how much work went into making the game as a whole. To be honest I could probably write a whole post on how amazing Breath of the Wild is and why everyone needs to play it (and maybe I will someday), but today I just want to emphasize how impressive the soundtrack to this game is. The people behind the music of Breath of the Wild really thought of EVERYTHING. Different characters throughout the game have their own personal theme, enemies in the game have a unique theme, any town you walk into has a distinctive theme (that has a day and night variation), and the theme you hear while walking around or riding a horse changes depending on what region of the game you’re in.
What’s also impressive about how they wrote the music is that it loops seamlessly. It’s not obvious when one track ends and another begins, even when you’re walking into a totally different part of the map with new music. And what’s nice about most of the background music you hear while exploring, is that it’s subtle in the background. I can imagine if I heard the classic Legend of Zelda theme in the background for 100 hours I would probably get super sick of it. And when you hear a more intense song in the game, it fits perfectly in with what you’re doing (such as fighting a boss or while watching a cutscene).
All of the themes contribute to the type of person, place, or thing they are attached to. I’ve noticed certain characters have themes that emphasize some of their qualities and describe their stories and character development. Zelda, for example, is a complex character who throughout the story learns more about herself and her destiny. I’ve noticed throughout her cutscenes the piano is the main instrument that plays when she’s on screen. Through her cutscenes she learns to get along with Link and accept his help in figuring out how to awaken her power to seal Ganon away. As she goes through ups and downs and progresses through the story, the piano parts you hear in the cutscenes really give physical context to her emotions and character development. When she feels helpless and sad, her piano part is played on higher notes and is slower. When she finally unlocks her power and realizes she has to save Link, her piano part drops lower and speeds up, emphasizing her haste in fulfilling her destiny.
On a side note, I’m also very impressed with the sound in general with this game. The creators did some very subtle things to make the sound in the game feel natural and also match whatever is going on in that moment. If you are wondering what I mean, go check out this video.
*Mild Spoilers Ahead
Long story short, the plot of Horizon Zero Dawn centers around Aloy, an outcast who learns she is the key to saving the entire planet from getting destroyed by machines. Along the way she also learns more about her past and who she really is. The game is really confusing when you first play because you aren’t sure if the game is set in the past or future. Everything about the world is primal, except for the massive machine animals that roam the Earth. Eventually you realize that the game is set in the future, but that the world in a sense has been reset, which explains why human civilization is back to square one and why machines exist in such a place.
What I really like about the music in this game, is it perfectly describes Aloy and her world. A lot of the music is tribal, which makes sense seeing how most of Aloy’s world lives in tribes and there aren’t a whole lot of cities. What’s cool is a lot of the themes that involve machines make unique robotic and machine sounds blended into tribal music. As a result the song sounds more advanced, but also ominous. Aloy’s theme is also a perfect mix of tribal and machine-like sounds in her song, which demonstrates musically her place in both worlds. She also has a lot of other elements in her personal theme, such as a female vocalist and even a violin. These two things are very specific to her theme. I do hear violin in other themes, but I feel it is very prominent in Aloy’s theme. And any other time I hear a vocalist, Aloy is always involved in some way or another with what is happening. Besides Aloy’s theme sounding spectacular, it is also more complicated than some of the other music. Aloy is a complicated person who is out of place in her world, and her theme really demonstrates her struggle to find where she belongs.
*Mild Spoilers Ahead
Not only did they remake Final Fantasy VII, they also remade the music as well! They actually use a lot of different types of music in this game. In certain parts of the game you hear electronic music, then in other parts of the game you hear more adventurous renegade music, you also hear a lot more calming themes when you are around certain characters, like Tifa and Aerith.
The story of Final Fantasy VII: Remake follows Cloud Strife, an ex-SOLDIER turned mercenary. He teams up with Avalanche, an eco-terrorist group trying to save their planet from the evil electric company Shinra. Throughout the story he has an internal struggle with his own complicated (and partially unknown) past. What I love about the music in this game is when you need to get pumped up for a battle, the music pumps you up. I know that’s the purpose of any battle music in any game, but Final Fantasy VII stands out among the rest. I would play this game with my husband, and there would be times we would hear a song come on in a battle and we would actually say out loud “Dang, this song is so good”. And when you pair the battle music with game play, you get an awesome action scene, unlike any other game before.
But I don’t just love the exciting music, I also love the character themes throughout the games. The themes really match the characters and contribute even more to their purpose in the game. For example, Tifa is Cloud’s childhood friend and a love interest. They meet up for the first time in five years and find that they both have changed a lot, but their relationship is still really strong. Tifa’s theme is very sweet, and almost romantic when you hear it. It also sounds a little sad, which makes sense because Tifa had a lot of trials in the previous five years of her life, which you learn more about if you play the game. Her theme perfectly describes her as the tough girl who secretly has a soft side.
Overall, this game does a great job with using the music to emphasize what is going on in the moment. From using the music to describe the areas of Midgar they are in, to better explaining the characters through their own personal themes, the music of Final Fantasy VII: Remake really draws you into the story even more. But honestly what’s amazing about this music is it doesn’t need to be paired with the game in order to be good. The soundtrack complements the game, but can stand alone without any problems. I could listen to this soundtrack all day!
Thanks for Reading!
Thanks for Reading! Have you ever played one of these games before? What is your favorite video game soundtrack? Let me know in the comments below!