I would like to take some time to talk about two of my favorite game soundtracks of all time: Oblivion and Skyrim. Of course, those are my favorite games of all time, but the soundtracks are sophisticated and go beyond the normal game soundtrack and even more so than movies. After listening to Oblivion for a long time I didn’t think Skyrim could be better so I lowered my standards when the game came out. To my surprise, it was deeper, longer, and had more impact than Oblivion. Let’s take some time to talk about the Oblivion soundtrack first.
This beautiful 26 song soundtrack is something you can listen to straight through without getting bored. The songs are magical and give you a feeling that most soundtracks probably wouldn’t. Jeremy Soule is simply a genius in the way the music is orchestrated. It has soul, life, power, and you get deep emotions that sweep across every song. The soundtrack finds a middle ground with a medieval tone with lots of violins, harps, flutes, and various light percussion and wind instruments. Each song marches through your ears and sits deep in your heart thanks to the constant change in tone and atmosphere from within the song and throughout the whole soundtrack.
Songs like Through the Valleys, Watchman’s Ease, Reign of the Septims, and my personal favorite, Wings of Kynareth are just perfectly composed. I have never heard an orchestral soundtrack sound perfect throughout and this one does it. Each song sounds organic and more like the music of the soul and not music done by human hands. If you never thought music had the life you will once you hear this soundtrack. You can buy it digitally on the website for only $10, and it will be some of the best $10 you ever spent on music.
The Skyrim soundtrack may not be as magical as Oblivion, but it is more powerful and has more overtones, plus there are over double the number of tracks. Skyrim has a lot more atmosphere than Oblivion with a slower pace and deeper instruments. This soundtrack has a Nordic theme so you get more sad tones, lots of drums, and something more war-like. It doesn’t mean the soundtrack is worse just a side step from Oblivion. The main theme is a remixed version of the Morrowind theme and is absolutely amazing. I felt a few songs were just there for filler, but there is more variety here and you get a whole spectrum of songs for battle, towns, exploring, and different encounters. Songs like Dawn, Dusk, Whiterun, The City Gates, are very powerful with deep tones and more light galloping strings than the crescendo of wind instruments and various percussion. You can get the Skyrim soundtrack on four discs for $30 and if you are lucky enough you can get a signed copy by the master himself, Jeremy Soule. This is well worth a purchase for any Skyrim fan.
Overall game soundtracks are becoming that of movies and sometimes beyond. Even in first-person shooters, there are sweeping scores that help drive a cinematic flair that games in the past couldn’t do. Soundtracks are some of the most underappreciated elements in games and need to be recognized more because these are what help drive emotions and feelings in your Final Fantasies and Call of Duty. Next time you play a game turn the music off or mute the TV and see if you get the same reaction to that terrible death scene or plot twist. I bet you won’t, and this may even make you more aware of the music driving the experience.