How important is a game's music to you?

Most games I tend not to notice it. I think Ubisoft tends to do some interesting things with licensed music, and some indie games, like Stardew Valley, come up with some great stuff, but I guess music doesn't really matter that much to me in games unless I don't like it. Car Mechanic Simulator 2018 is so bad that I'm constantly hitting the radio to change songs (sometimes I just turn off the music audio). Some of the music is like what you would expect to hear from a five-year-old banging on an organ. And I played an indie game demo the other day that was set in the medieval period, and it had really inappropriate modern music which I couldn't turn off, and it drove me nuts. I think, unfortunately, that I tend to only really pay attention to the far ends of the spectrum, either the great stuff or the terrible stuff.

What's your take on game music? Very important? Not so important? Got some good game music soundtracks to recommend?
 
I can't listen to Journey's music without wanting to play game... but for most part the games I play are ARPG and I tend to play them a long time (Torchlight 2 I have 1300 hours in) so it really helps if the music isn't annoying and for most part I think I been lucky.

I do know I have been known to turn music off and just have other sounds instead so clearly some games in past started to bug me, but none stand out.
 

Frindis

Moderator
Good topic! For me, it depends on the type of game, but also on what I am doing. Take the time I played WoW as an example: Starting a new character in the beloved starter zones and listening to the music is a pure nostalgia trip. It takes me back to the time when I got my first 7 days US trial back in 2006. Then if I were grinding for raiding mats or similar, I would turn on some high-octane music so it did not feel as much of a chore.

As for soundtracks to recommend (you can also search for soundtrack as several older threads got some good ones), this is the first thing that came to mind:

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9F1l6xXLSI0
 

Kaamos_Llama

Moderator
Jan 31, 2020
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Music definitely helps to set the mood for a game, although the ability to turn it off in the menu save games from being ruined by it if it becomes annoying.

I'm pretty sure all the Spectrum, Atari ST and Atari games I played as a kid have insinuated themselves into my subconscious and informed a large part of my general musical taste later in life, I'm sure like many others whether conciously or not.

Funnily enough I've been playing Endless Space 2 this week, and the OST by Flybyno is really something else. I really just came here to say that because its amaZing.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uN6JFzeSAz0&list=PLtzah_dj5hUXssVw_j55Fnwjud0fZRle6&index=2


I also need to mention the Cultist Simulator OST, which I also absolutely loved recently.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JNZonBIr-XQ&t=342s
 
One thing on music I'd like to mention is that in Warframe, if you have one particular character (Octavia), you can write your own songs that you can then play on your ship or on missions, and they give you different boosts in battle. I spent an unseemly amount of time writing songs for her. It was so much fun that I bought Music Maker to fiddle around with. Most people didn't write original music, though, they just put well-known songs in, like Another One Bites The Dust, which was pretty fun to fight to.
 
Jan 16, 2020
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In the grand scheme of things music isn't the most vital element if gameplay holds up. But boy howdy is it a force multiplier. The right music just enhances the experience, makes events that much more epic, that much more memorable that it practically becomes integral. Just think about l4d if the tank sound track is memorable as it just brings out the power/horror of facing something so powerful.

Conversely, a poor, annoying soundtrack dents the experience. I remember playing alone in the dark 4 the new nightmare and that soundtrack was just bloody awful and really was noticeably terrible. other times technical issues are even more apparent when soundtrack/music just cuts out randomly ruining an experience.

Some games can get away with no music but even then i think they would implement subtle ambient stuff. Stuff like playstation doom or Doom 64 ambient wasn't quite my taste. I still prefer a rocking soundtrack like ROTT or James paddock's, stewboy's stuff are more my thing. that said, i do also enjoy catchy stuff from 8-16bit era.

Recent tracks i've been listening to for a while:

I'll plug this one, Valley's soundtrack was just amazing and this one in particular as you run around the abandoned underground rails making mega leaps over gorges and the tempo changes.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q4i7WP8s004&list=PLIquCqbH2phw6LE8Q5Sv1bcoF8U1yR28g&index=83



View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5YNhIJVUfk&list=PLIquCqbH2phw6LE8Q5Sv1bcoF8U1yR28g&index=101




This i listened to playing doom 2 wad

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QvEf-Xx9WoI&list=PLIquCqbH2phw6LE8Q5Sv1bcoF8U1yR28g&index=95
 

Zloth

Community Contributor
Game music is HUGELY important! Luckily, most games get it right. A few are bad, some are "meh", but most are good and some are really exceptional.

BioShock Infinite is easily in the latter category and might be the best ever. First, the music is just plain good - they take lots of modern(ish) songs and re-do them as they might sound in 1910. Second, there's a great in-game reason for those songs to be there. Third, they sneak in another level on a lot of the songs. "Will the Circle be Unbroken" not only fits the 'city in the sky' business, but it really resonates with some other parts of the game as well. Sneaking "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" in there was not only fun when you realize it's there, it fits the story perfectly as well - Elizabeth had just been freed from somebody who wanted to hide her from the rest of the world.

Ugh - if I try to list off the ones I really like, I'll be here all night!
 

Brian Boru

Moderator
I tend to only really pay attention to the far ends of the spectrum, either the great stuff or the terrible stuff
I'm the same, I'll turn it off if it's annoying but that's rare—mostly in casual or indie games.

First great stuff I heard was Frank Klepacki's epic soundtracks for the first 4 Command & Conquer / Red Alert games. The originals have been completely re-recorded by Frank for last year's C&C Remastered release and add a lot to the game experience. If you want a taste, try the classics 'Hell March' and 'Act On Instinct'.

Next was Civ4's epic orchestral soundscape—more than a soundtrack. Christopher Tin's 'Baba Yetu' may be the greatest Civ track of them all—which is saying something, all the Civs I've played have had glorious music. It was the first game music to win a Grammy. He's also worked on the Humankind soundtrack, which I haven't heard.
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJiHDmyhE1A


Ubisoft tends to do some interesting things with licensed music
Last soundtrack I totally enjoyed was Far Cry 5, which had loads of old classic 20th century popular music in it—playing on radios mainly, I don't think they were part of the actual soundtrack, more opportunistic events when you entered a vehicle, house etc.

There are a bunch of YouTubers who make some great stuff too. My fav is Miracle of Sound, who has tracks made for lots of big games—he broke thru with 'Commander Shepard' based on Mass Effect, and has produced in a wide variety of genres.
This one 'Take it Back' is his collaboration with Bioware for ME3's launch:
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nAI814u0vQc


One of the cool things in Far Cry Primal is Ubisoft composed 3 Neolithic languages for the 3 tribes in the game. So I was chuffed when Miracle of Sound made a song in the Wenja language—don't worry, it has subtitles :)
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ADT6EUlFmiU
 
Aug 8, 2020
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Music can definitely elevate a game. Oblivion's soundtrack is god tier, and The Witcher 3's is awesome as well. The music when you are alone exploring Skellige is just awesome. But, as has been said previously in the thread, I tend to only really notice the music at either extreme. If the soundtrack is just sort of there but neither annoying or great, then I basically tune it out entirely.
 
Nov 27, 2020
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Very important. Hugely important. Music can make or break immersion in any game. I've never turned off the music/sound in a game, as I don't even know of a game I've played that had a sound track so bad that I'd turn it off.

The intro music/soundtrack can (and should) pump you up for playing the game. I can't listen to the into soundtracks of Morrowind, Oblivion, Skyrim, Fallout New Vegas, or Mass Effect without wanting to stop what I'm doing and play those games.

A good sound track of a game should reflect the environment you happen to be exploring, but not so intrusive as to override the ambient sounds. It should also transition when you find yourself in a combat situation, and the combat music/soundtrack should reflect the intensity of the situation. What music is appropriate varies upon your personal tastes, but as Zloth said above, most games get it right.

There are times when I'll mod different music into a game, not often, but there are times when you play a game so much, you want a bit more variety. Take Fallout 4, while the base soundtrack is fine, I use the Dark Apocalypse mod by Digital Nightmare exclusively now. Exploration music is subtle, but fitting, and the combat music just rocks, and fits the the post apocalyptic world.

Digital Nightmare - Dark Apocalyptic Soundtrack at Fallout 4 Nexus - Mods and community (nexusmods.com)

Metal Meets Magic

Sometimes, not often, but sometimes, music that you wouldn't think appropriate for a given genre of games just works. I'm a confessed metal head from the '70s, and while I appreciate almost all types of music today, I still have a soft spot for some good metal. It doesn't always mix well in a fantasy setting, but when it does, it freaking rocks. Grim Dawn does it right, and is the closet to that "Diablo Feeling" I've had since Diablo 2. Grim Dawn never gets the press it deserves.



Another one of my favorite ARPGs,, Sacred 2, had a unique quest to actually find an in-game concert preformed by Blind Guardian. Just a side quest that evolved over a large part of the game, but I felt it was truly unique as I've never experienced anything like that; basically a quest based on music. It's an old, and under rated game, but it still stands out.

View: https://youtu.be/JyfE55c_ZjI


And then there's the music of promo videos for a game. The music in a prom can greatly influence a gamers purchasing decision. That can be good, but it can also be deceptive (look no further that Cyberpunk 2077). But there was one promo that influenced me to buy a game that I do not regret, and that was the first Witcher game. It's metal and magic again, Vader, but how can you not be pumped up by that video? I've never regretted that purchase. It had it's issues when first released, but with the free enhanced edition, CD Projekt Red corrected most issues.

View: https://youtu.be/A3GEPkjNh6k


This topic (thanks Zed) brings to mind a related question. Do you ever, after playing a game for a long time (whether hours, or days, or weeks), hear a certain soundtrack in your mind over and over and over; maybe when lying in bed, or at work, or wherever? Sometimes I'll wake up in the morning and have a particular soundtrack playing through my brain. Weird, I know, but it happens.
 
Do you ever, after playing a game for a long time (whether hours, or days, or weeks), hear a certain soundtrack in your mind over and over and over; maybe when lying in bed, or at work, or wherever? Sometimes I'll wake up in the morning and have a particular soundtrack playing through my brain. Weird, I know, but it happens.
I don't. I love music and listen to it all the time, but for some reason I tend to tune out soundtracks when I play. Other things happen to me when I play for a long time, though. For instance, I was playing a game once where I was constantly looking for things, and when I got in my car later, as I was driving, I got a glimpse of something in my peripheral vision and thought, "There's one!" I guess that's called the Tetris effect.
 
This topic (thanks Zed) brings to mind a related question. Do you ever, after playing a game for a long time (whether hours, or days, or weeks), hear a certain soundtrack in your mind over and over and over; maybe when lying in bed, or at work, or wherever? Sometimes I'll wake up in the morning and have a particular soundtrack playing through my brain. Weird, I know, but it happens.
I still get the music from Monkey Island stuck in my head sometimes. I haven't even played the games that often, but that music just lodged itself in my brain and has refused to come out.
 
Aug 26, 2021
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Definitely depends on the type of game. There's games where it isn't so much a big deal, and games where it elevates everything around it. The Bioshock trilogy has fantastic music. Not in your face, but heightens the presentation that much more. Undertale's soundtrack is godly, and is the best part of the game IMO.

But games like The Binding of Isaac - the music doesn't matter, or maybe even detracts a little bit. It's designed to be played so, so much that those tracks just burn themselves into your brain.
 

Sarafan

Community Contributor
Jan 14, 2020
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The music is very important for me. It's a crucial element that influences the atmosphere. I think that in video games it plays even a bigger role than in movies. The games are an interactive medium, which make you feel like an actual participant of the depicted events. In movies you're frequently only an exterior observer. That's why music in games is more important.

There's so much good soundtracks that I don't even know where to start. It depends what you're looking for: Heroes of Might and Magic 3 and 4, Planescape Torment, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Pillars of Eternity 2, Tyranny, Doom 2016 and Doom Eternal, Quake 2, Morrowind, Oblivion and Skyrim, The Witcher 3... I could list them further... :)
 
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The music is very important for me. It's a crucial element that influences the atmosphere. I think that in video games it plays even a bigger role than in movies. The games are an interactive medium, which make you feel like an actual participant of the depicted events. In movies you're frequently only an exterior observer. That's why music in games is more important.
I would say that because movies aren't interactive, the music is more important to immerse you in the experience.
 
Aug 29, 2021
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Very important, music kind of drives the tone of the overall game. For example, God of War's gameplay is fantastic, but when it's joined by the epic background score, it becomes something else, especially Kratos' theme.
 
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