How much does music have an effect on how great a game is for you?

I’m just listening to the Last of Us soundtrack, and those of you who read the PS3 purchasing thread might remember that I said that this game was my favourite since PDS… making it my second favourite of all time.

One of the main reasons for this is of course story - I play games for the experience but I will remember them for the story. TLOU has an exceptional narrative, that explores multiple aspects of human interactions. PDS also does this. albeit in a drastically different futuristic setting.

But on top of story, both gameplay and music are the next two disciplines that form the whole that is a groundbreaking game. No one wants to play a game that isn’t fun, but if you have both a great story and gameplay that makes you want to keep playing, are both of those really enough to create a top tier experience without a soundtrack to go along with them?

A musical score has to be perfectly matched to what your eyes are seeing… be it a game, a film or a television show. The architects of audio experiences are at their best when they know exactly what symphony to orchestrate to the right action on screen, and this is where I think both PDS and TLOU excel, in surprisingly similar ways.

Sound is broken down in two main aspects; one being the presence of sound, and the other being the absence of it. Both are equally as powerful when used properly, and both can have as much meaning as each other if you’re prepared to listen to it.

Now, it’s been far too long since I played PDS, and a few months since I played TLOU, so I won’t be citing any examples. However both games deal with a sense of isolation and heroism that enables the audio to follow the leading protagonists with an equal amount of both support (uplifting, motivational tunes) and sincerity (silence, or deep, foreboding ambience).

I’m surely not the only one here, amongst you most attentive of gamers, that have been emotionally entwined with a game because of it’s musical score. So, my question is, what other games have affected you by the way they sound? What other games are only made as great as they are due to the right music at the right time?

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For me music is everything. Games like: Chrono Trigger, Chrono Cross, Skies of Arcadia, Panzer Dragoon Saga, Shenmue, the Final Fantasy series to name a few; and anime like Escaflowne, Last Exile and the Hayao Miyazaki films; would all lose something precious if the soundtracks weren’t on par with the presentation/visuals.

There are times even, when a game can look phenomenal and be very engaging; but because the music is so horribly bland, I struggle to play through, having to force myself to continue on (Especially in rpg’s). A bad musical score can sometimes ruin the emotional impact or attachment to the viewer/player completely…

I believe when a soundtrack can compliment the visuals and sound organic to the world it presents, that is truly something special. And music of course can affect your mood, adding to the
emotional impact of important key story developments as well as how attached you feel to the setting and characters.

I remember as a kid I really didn’t like FF7 because Cloud as a character was so
unemotional and some of the more depressing music complemented this character trait. Chrono Trigger had a more prevalent emotional impact on me because each character’s musical score was to me, an extension of their personalities! Each piece of music complemented the characters or the setting in such a charming, grand and whimsical way. I didn’t want to leave that world.

I might give Panzer Dragoon Saga as another example here. Can you imagine any other soundtrack playing? The music just feels interwoven into the fabric of the world and it’s characters. No?

To answer the question: yes, game music definitely has a great effect on me. Game music is just as important as the story and visuals.

The music is a strong reason why Panzer Dragoon Saga had such an impact on me. On it’s own, individual elements such as the story, gameplay, and visual style are all well done - but it’s the fusion of these elements overlaid with Saori Kobayashi’s soundtrack which makes Panzer Dragoon Saga the masterpiece that it is.

Other games? Journey’s soundtrack is an incredibly important part of that experience, timed to match the gameplay and progression of the journey.

Shadow of the Colossus and Skies of Arcadia as well.

I agree with Shenmue, although much of Shenmue lacked rememberable music during the gameplay sections.

The Halo trilogy is set apart from other first person shooters thanks to the work of Marty O’Donnell.

Music has a profound effect on my engagement with a game, maybe more than even the visual art in the end. A couple of my biggest examples have been mentioned already, JetSetRadioFuture and Shadow of the Colossus. Not many others I can think of in a similar echelon with Azel and those two: Gunstar Heroes & Guardian Heroes; Radiant Silvergun; Sylpheed (Mega CD); Diablo 2; Zelda:OoT; Shadow of the Beast.

I’m sure I am missing some, and many other games come close. And I know that a day will still come when ‘scolars’ recognize the artistic contributions of the age of chip music as something equivalent to opera or the blues.

Add this and Ikaruga to my list. Especially Ikaruga.

Any problem if we link to Youtube videos for some songs? Feels rather odd to talk about soundtracks without linking to examples :slight_smile: While I haven’t played NieR, I’ve often seen it mentioned in topics asking for the best soundtrack in a video game. Having listened to it now, I can see why.

NiGHTS into Dreams is also one of my all-time favorites. I was amazed to find that the music changed, depending on the mood of the Nightopians inhabiting it. The game just wouldn’t be the same without it. I also heard great things about the Okami OST.

More recently, Life is Strange is a great example of a game that uses its soundtrack to create a melancholic mood that really sets it apart from other games.

Yeah, Nights is a true gem of an OST!

I would also say many if not all of the Ys games have really good soundtracks!

Some of my other favs are:


Lunar Silver Star and Eternal Blue

Astal (Saturn)

Sonic CD (love it or hate it!)

Sonic After the Sequel (you have to listen to this OST it’s awesome!)

Final Fantasy 10

Legend of Mana

Granstream Saga

Beyond Good and Evil

Legend of Legaia

Breath of FIre 4
Mario Galaxy/Super Mario RPG Legend of the Seven Stars

Brave Fencer Musashi (I really adore this OST!)

I don’t see why it would be a problem. Also, Bandcamp is a great resource for game soundtracks, particularly indie games. You can stream (and optionally buy) the entire Journey soundtrack for example:

My favourite track is “Apotheosis” and this is in part because of how well it enhances the particular section of the game.