We all know the effect that music can have on a work. If the music is awful, then it kills our immersion no matter how rich the game world, but if it’s good? Ho boy, does it complete the experience. The right soundtrack can get right into your head and put you in the right mood to lose yourself in someone else’s story for upwards of forty hours. Here are a few selections of my favourite themes from games that embody that sense of adventure best.
Final Fantasy – ‘Prologue’
Everyone knows this one. If you’ve somehow managed to avoid the series entirely, firstly that’s actually incredibly impressive and secondly you’re missing out on some amazing moments. Final Fantasy is known for its rich musical legacy, with dozens of albums arranging its iconic tunes for piano, rock, orchestras and even chiptune, and as all good stories do, it starts with the ‘Prologue’. Once you hear this you know you’re about to be whisked away to some colourful land for dozens of hours, and you know you’ll love every second of it.
The Legend of Zelda – ‘Medley’
You know what, I couldn’t choose just one theme from the series. Composer Koji Kondo captures the moods perfectly in every single game he scores, and it’s just too damn hard to narrow it down to one. So here’s incredibly talented violinist Lindsey Stirling performing a medley of some of the game’s best tracks. Zelda is one of the series that captures the idea of an adventure best, and its music is a massive, massive part of that.
Pokémon – ‘Title Screen’
If there’s one thing that 90% of my generation have in common, it’s that the Pokémon games were the adventure of our childhoods. As soon as we hear any of the music from those games, the memories come flooding right back. Hell, start singing the first theme to the anime even now, decades later, and any crowd of twenty-year old nerds is likely to start singing with you. While looking around on YouTube for the Generation 1 title music, I found this nifty little arrangement that updates the Fire Red & Leaf Green version nicely, while keeping the nostalgia totally intact!
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – ‘The Song of the Dragonborn’
As soon as we heard this one in Skyrim‘s first trailer, we all knew we were 200% on board with it. Soaring orchestras swell and give the track a downright heroic feeling, like you should be proudly standing at the top of a mountain surveying the adventurous potential of the land below. The fact that the vocals are sung by a choir in the invented dragon language gives it that much more of a connection to the game world, making it feel real and alive. It’s just one of the most downright badass themes in a game ever, simple as that.
Mass Effect – ‘Shepard of the Galaxy’
I love Mass Effect. I love it so much. I admittedly haven’t played the third game, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love every inch of its beautiful sci-fi landscapes, its inventive and well-realised alien races and its deep, three-dimensional characters. It truly transports you to another world – or rather, another whole bunch of worlds, each gorgeous and just stunning to look at. Jimmy Hinson, one of the composers on Mass Effect 2, created this amazing mashup of music throughout the series that perfectly captures the spirit of the games – a spirit of mystery, wonder and adventure.