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Video game soundtracks: They deserve more respect

[Another contribution from Thomas Dennett who thinks we should be paying more attention to the music we hear in video games – AC]

On one of my frequent trips to EB Games in the Eaton Centre, I overheard the following conversation between two of the employees:

Employee #1: So what’s your favourite band?

Employee #2: I actually really like the Final Fantasy soundtrack.

I paused, and thought to myself, “What a silly answer, that’s not a band.” I mean with all the great music out there I just assumed that everyone’s favourite thing to listen to would be some sort of musician. After a little more thought, I came to realize I couldn’t even remember the soundtrack from my favourite games.

That’s when a little light popped on in my head to remind me of that adage; half of what you see is what you hear. If the music and sound is produced correctly in a movie, video game etc., you don’t really notice it. Sound serves to accentuate the visual components of a piece in ways we aren’t aware of.

What do people talk about when they get a new video game? It’s usually a comment about the combat mechanics, the crystal-clear graphics or some other visual element to the game. Rarely does someone say “Wow, the sound design in that game was great!” So about a year ago, I started to pay more attention to the music. And lo and behold, there is a cornucopia of incredibly high-quality music being produced for video games that lots of people will never get to experience because they’re not into that ‘nerdy stuff’. Well luckily, I am. If you’re a gamer, start to pay attention to more than just what you see on the screen. If you’re not a gamer, I can get you started on the right track with a couple examples.


FURI is a dual-stick action shoot-‘em-up developed and released by The Game Bakers in July of 2016. As a prisoner in a hi-tech jail, you are forced to slash, dodge and laser beam your way through a series of increasingly more difficult boss battles to gain your freedom. The game has heavy sci-fi influences and the soundtrack reflects this perfectly. As opposed to having one company produce all the music, the developers reached out to several independent electronic music producers such as Waveshaper and Carpenter Brut. Imagine; the epic scale of a Howard Shore composition mixed with the gritty electronic vibe of 80’s synth pop. If you threw some of these on at a club, I have no doubt people would go crazy.

The Witcher 3

The Witcher 3 is a 2015 adventure role-playing game developed by CD Projekt Red. You play as Geralt of Rivia, a Witcher, who is basically a bounty hunter for monsters, beasts and phantasms. I think you could pick and place any one of The Witcher 3 songs into a fantasy epic like Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings and no one would be the wiser. From orchestral battle pieces like ‘Hunt or Be Hunted’ to subtler songs like ‘Wake Up, Ciri’, this soundtrack has as much range and quality as some of our favourite film franchises. The perfect backdrop for fending off ghouls, chimaeras and werewolves. At the very least, it’s a great backtrack for my Dungeons and Dragons nights.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38569 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

4 thoughts on “Video game soundtracks: They deserve more respect

  • Stuart Chatwood (of The Tea Party) has done the music for Darkest Dungeon and the Prince of Persia games. I think, tho I’m no certain, that he actually won some sort of award for Darkest Dungeon… And its available on vinyl!

  • Some of my all time fav albums are Soundtracks to video games. WipeOutXL for the original Playstation features a big Electronica list of bands like Fluke, Underworld, Leftfield. Rob Zombie did some tracks for Twisted Metal 3 or 4 for the Playstation and the game Rage Racer (Ridge Racer 2) has some GREAT original electronca tracks on it’s soundtrack. Plus we can’t forget about Trent Reznor’s Quake soundtrack.

  • The music from Cuphead was nominated for Instrumental Album of the Year at this year’s JUNO Awards. It was probably the closest I’ve ever looked at the instrumental category. :p

  • Pingback: This Fortnight in Music Supervision and Sync (04/05/18) - Synchblog by Synchtank

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