The music of gaming is not just an afterthought anymore. The high-calibre games of 2018 possess such detail and finesse in their plots, characters and designs that it would be a crime to underscore the whole affair with the repetitive elevator music of old. For one genre in particular, this is of even greater importance – the RPG (role-playing game).
As a format, the RPG has come a long way. Gamers are now treated to the astonishingly accomplished works of art that are Skyrim, Diablo and The Witcher. These are not games that one simply plays, they must be experienced in all of their glory, of which music is no small part. From the great Nordic choirs of Skyrim to the creepy ambience of Diablo’s dungeons, music turned up to full whack through headphones can move a player to tears or scare the living daylights out of them with equal ease. Where immersion is key, a good soundtrack is an absolute necessity.
But what of other games?
The cheesy, looping music of yesteryear is still very much alive and kicking in many respects. Nintendo, in particular, began with this form of soundtrack decades ago and appear to have just stuck with it. And to be fair, when it comes to pretty much every Mario game ever, the situation is very much one of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. After all, what might not work on an open-world RPG can become possibly the world’s best known theme tune on a simple platform jumper.
My favourite piece of music from a game though, it has to be said, is from the as-yet-unmentioned Fallout 4. The opening theme tune is, in my opinion, one of the most post-apocalyptically rousing pieces of music I have ever heard. If ever you need to survive the apocalypse, make sure you have that track playing on repeat.
Music is vital to the gaming experience. It helps to build worlds and fuels us through the story by raising us up and keeping us on our toes. And if you do get a dud of a soundtrack, just remember that regardless of how bad it may be, I think we can all agree that playing alone and in silence would be decidedly worse.