I recently came across an interesting article about the psychology of sound in video games, which got me thinking, what games have I've played over the many years that really create an immersive experience through sound?
Originally games were limited to sounds from a synthesizer but now that technology has moved on considerably, it's no surprise that today's game developers are beginning to follow the examples of big budget films and TV series. That may sound a little extravagant for a video game but developers like Naughty Dog are trying to blur the lines between games and movies in order to create a more cinematic and immersive experience. One of my favourite Naughty Dog games, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, contained a behind the scenes featurette that showed you how the composers invoked a sense of culture for certain locations when creating the background music. Whilst playing the game you would notice when enemies were about to surround you because the tempo would pick up and percussion would be very prominent. Also, a nice little touch would be the ringing of bells when you're searching for a clue and your character catches sight of it in their field of vision, thereby allowing you the player to know you're on the right path.
Another great game for having an amazing soundtrack is the Japanese RPG Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch. This is quite a unique experience because the game's score is composed by Joe Hisaishi, who has worked on many film scores for the famous Studio Ghibli (Japan's version of Disney). It may not be for everyone but I would recommend watching "Spirited Away" with young kids.
GTA V is another recent example of great soundtracks in games and I'm not just talking about the radio stations. I really enjoyed the music scored for different missions, which was great at creating atmosphere and tension. The same can be said for Diggs Nightcrawler as this is a game set in the 1940's, so in order to create that film noir feel the music incorporates a lot of instruments from the era.
Nowadays music in games doesn't just stop with the sound that comes from your TV, I've noticed that controllers are starting to have speakers added to them. It's a great enhancement to a game's experience when say you hear the reloading of a gun from your controller or an upbeat ding to tell you everything is alright. Nintendo were the first to make good use of this with the Wii remote and then the Wii U gamepad. It's fun to see that most recently Sony has added the feature to their Dualshock 4, which I can't wait to try once I can get my hands on a PS4.
I can't write this post and not talk about the sounds created by either the Sega Megadrive or SNES (the most popular consoles during my childhood). Despite the lack of memory it was still able to create some memorable tunes that have aged well, or maybe it's just an old head like me feeling a sense of nostalgia. I remember playing Alex the Kidd to death on the Master System and feeling so joyous when you reached the next level and see Alex sitting down next to the map eating a burger (well that's what my brother and I thought!). However, it was so disheartening to hear that tune played when you died and a transparent Alex floated up to the sky.
Obviously this is just my thoughts on sounds in gaming but I enjoyed taking a trip down memory lane. Has anyone else out there played a game and thought "Wow that sounds really good!" or felt a strong emotion because the music was uplifting?
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