I have the puzzle for the 40th time today Model played through. Well, not really. But somehow yes. Let me explain

I’m actually not a great music person. I don’t play an instrument either way, not even the recorder, and I don’t listen to too much music either. Sure, I have my artists, whom I value very much, for example Leonard Cohen or Eric Clapton, but that I consciously sit down and just listen, and also that I let myself be showered, for example while at work – that hardly ever happens.

Why is that? Well, on the one hand I am probably just a trivialist, on the other hand I have always been a person who likes to put the things he enjoys into context. I don’t associate a lot with a song at first, even with a very good one, but as soon as it triggers memories of moments or feelings in me, then I can really enjoy it.

Not surprisingly: When it comes to game soundtracks, I like to “click”, and then this feeling is mutually beneficial. I enjoy the game more because I like the music and I hear the music because it reminds me of great game moments.

About the author

The Power of Sound: How Music Brings Games to Life (6)

The Power of Sound: How Music Brings Games to Life (6)

Source: Lukas Schmid

Lukas Schmid has been working in various functions at Computec Media and thus at PC Games since 2010, first as an intern, then as a freelancer, then as a volunteer, editor and now as editor-in-chief for pcgames.de, videogameszone.de, gamesaktuell.de and gamezone.de. He loves action, adventure, action adventures, shooters, jump & runs, horror and role-playing games, you can hunt him with strategy titles, most rogue likes and military simulations. Every Saturday at around 9 a.m. he tells you in his column what is annoying or happy about him. Hate comments and love letters in the comments under the column [email protected] or on Twitter @Schmid_Luki.

And so back to the beginning: Today I felt I played through Maquette for the 40th time. Since I’ve played and learned to appreciate the title, the really famous, licensed indie soundtrack has been in Spotify’s permanent rotation.

And when I hear the music, I experience the actually banal, but wonderfully told relationship story from Maquette over and over again. Once again I witness how the couple experienced their ups and downs from the game, including the very emotional ending – don’t worry, there are no spoilers at this point. When I hear the music, I’m immediately back in this world, and it’s as if I were starting from the beginning every time, even if in truth, of course, I only really wandered through the campaign once (plus one more time for the Trophies).

Nice puzzle gameplay, very nice story: Maquette would be a nice game even without the music, but for me it only becomes unique with the music – and almost immortal. I am reminded of it again and again, and I know that even years from now I would remember details and moments from the adventures, which would not be the case without the soundtrack.

Emotional travel support

And that’s the case with me, someone who, as I said, is anything but in love with music. This shows how immensely good sound (don’t worry, that’s the only bad pun, but you can’t do without it) is for video games.

Second example: Celeste, as mentioned a couple of times in my columns, one of my all time favorites. What do I think of first when it comes to my mind? The tens of thousands of deaths that I’ve died? The touching act?

No, even here, where I adore every single aspect of the adventure, the music pops in my head first and before I know it, I hum it to myself. It is indispensable for me and expresses the feeling I have when playing, just perfectly. So what power music can have!

It’s also amazing how sounds can guide you as a player. I am happy to take the boss music against Ganondorf in the final boss fight of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker at hand. It basically perfectly depicts the emotions you feel when you face the Demon King for the first time. At first the music is loud, chaotic, the many sounds overwhelm you. Then it becomes quieter, you can find your way around, but it continues to boom threateningly, because the danger is still great. Only then does it gain positive power, i.e. at the point in time when you finally recognize the weak points of your adversary, and ends in hopeful sounds, when finally good triumphs over evil and Link sinks his blade into the boss’s skull.

Am I interpreting too much in here? Maybe, but if the music is able to trigger these emotions in me so perfectly coordinated with what is happening, then as a composer you’ve done everything right, regardless of whether it was entirely intentional or not.

Now as a counterexample, Uncharted, no matter which part of the series. I really appreciate the series, especially Uncharted 2 and Uncharted 4. Remember individual moments? It’s not that easy for me to do, even though the games are bursting with great set pieces and narrative moments.

Why? Well, again I can be accused of seeing connections here that do not exist. But Uncharted’s soundtrack, as elaborately produced as it may be, is just that: Elaborately produced. In the end, it’s just beautiful orchestral sounds that do nothing other than accompany my shooting and climbing orgies nicely and inconspicuously.

It is only with difficulty that I succeed in recalling individual scraps of music here, if at all. My memory has no audio framework that it can cling to, and ergo the games blur into a beautiful mass of gameplay and story for me, which I still like, but which after all this time doesn’t trigger much in me.

So: A cheer for video game music, which is of course underestimated, but in my perception its effect is underestimated. While you’re walking through the virtual lands of PC and console adventures, don’t turn off the music and listen to the podcast because it doesn’t matter. Get involved with what is being served to you auditory, because it is not an appendage, but, if done well, an integral part of the experience.

The rewards are wonderful, significantly intense memories, and the opportunity to relive your favorite stories over and over again, even if the credits have long been over.

My other columns

Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 – 10 wishes to the Switch successor
Live service games: If you have to, then please do it right!
They all look the same: Why do modern graphic styles bother me?
Nintendo Switch 2: a flop with an announcement? That’s why Nintendo has to be careful …
Electronic Arts vs. Creativity: At the end of the day, everyone is screwed up
Is violence awesome? Why some games go too far for me …
Remakes, remasters, and reprints are a mistake
Well-known on the PS5: Sony has a creativity problem
Whistle on creativity: Dear developers, steal ideas!
Achievements, trophies and co .: Stop doing stupid tasks!
Realism is annoying: Why games should just be games

Identification with video game characters: a bizarre sham debate

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