I can safely say that at this point in time I have slacked in my actual playing of video games. Does this suck for me? Yes. But is it something I would declare out loud and in public for all to hear? Never. I also remembered that I am writer – of life, thoughts, stories, dreams and yes, you guessed it: Video games. So now, faced with an existential crisis of not doing enough of what I love to write about, a lightbulb switched on (also quite literally mind you, as there was a power outage just a few hours prior to me writing this – hooray!). I started doing some thinking about the things that make video games so memorable to me and I realised that one of the most powerful components of a game is the soundtrack. From your nostalgic do-do-do-dum-dum sounds on the 8-bit genre to your more sophisticated full orchestra – this is the power that makes video games memorable. There is a beauty to video game soundtracks that lies in its paradox. As subtle as it may appear on your radar, it also shouts as your cheerleader on your campaign.
Those who know me will know that the very first game I bought was Assassin’s Creed. I thought back to the scenes; from the cinematic short scene that plays when you don’t interact with the menu screen, to the wonderful moment when you view Damascus on your horse, to the elaborate rooftop chases and even the sombre moment after an assassination. When I close my eyes and think about these moments, I cannot envision them without the accompanying music. For the rest of my love affair with the Assassin’s Creed franchise, I would become an unknowing fan of Jesper Kyd and Sarah Schachner. If these names are unfamiliar to you: Jesper Kyd composed the soundtracks to the first Assassin’s Creed game, the award-winning soundtrack to Assassin’s Creed II and the Ezio trilogy. Sarah Schachner composed the soundtrack to Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, Assassin’s Creed Unity as well as the incredible Assassin’s Creed Origins (I STAN THIS QUEEN!).
The work that has gone into these soundtracks is nothing short of incredible. Don’t judge me, but it was only recently that I discovered that these works of art were performed live for an audience. The increase of video game soundtrack performance events like Video Games Live and shows during Gamescom are a testament to this. The music is able to transport you back to your favourite moments in the game: it triggers a smile when you see Ezio don the Assassin’s robe for the first time in his father’s secret room, you cry with Florentine after losing more than half his family and you blush when he oozed his irresistible Italian charm with the ladies. Soundtracks make us feel the game.
If you want to take a trip down the Animus, take a listen to some of the classics:
Jesper Kyd – Ezio’s Family soundtrack for Assassin’s Creed II
Sarah Schachner – complete Assassin’s Creed Origins soundtrack
Have a favourite video game soundtrack? Please share it in the comments below.