Indie Video Game SoundtracksMay 19, 2020
Music plays a huge part in video games. From traditional ‘soundtracks’ that act as backing to the gameplay and visuals, to immersive and dynamic music which reacts to the player’s actions whilst playing.
Many of today’s AAA games developed by the huge studios have budgets not far off Hollywood movie productions, and the music benefits from big orchestrations and teams working on the audio.
Smaller indie games usually have a much smaller budget and resources available, and the developers might need to take a different approach to the musical content in their games. This could be using stripped down arrangements, taking a ‘less is more’ approach, or choosing a more electronic based score, taking advantage of the incredible advances made in digital audio and home recording setups.
Having a smaller budget or minimalist approach to sound design doesn’t make the music in Indie games any lesser than the big budget games. In fact, many smaller indie games have produced excellent and iconic soundtracks and pieces that are respected outwith their existence within a video game. Anyway, here’s a quick roundup of some of our favourite indie video game soundtracks available to stream and buy on Bandcamp:
Composer: Chris Remo
Firewatch is a game about a park ranger working as a fire lookout in Shoshone National Forest, Wyoming during the summer of 1989. The minimal soundtrack of piano and guitar with a slight country twist suits the visuals perfectly.
In addition to the Firewatch soundtrack, Chris Reno also composed the score for the indie games Gone Home & Thirty Flights of Loving.
Composer: Austin Wintory
Music plays a big part in the gameplay of Journey, created in 2012 by thatgamecompany and Santa Monica Studios. The game itself doesn’t have any speech or text, and the music reacts dynamically to the players actions.
You’d be forgiven for thinking the soundtrack of Journey actually belonged to a Hollywood film score, rather than a video game. Auston Wintory’s orchestral score for the game was performed by the Macedonia Radio Symphony Orchestra and a small group of soloists.
Journey won several awards for its music, and was nominated for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media at the 2013 Grammy Awards.
Game: Super Motherlode
Composer: Eric Cheng
The sequel to the original Motherlode adobe flash browser game from 2003, Super Motherlode is a game about mining on Mars for precious metals.
Eric Cheng created an electronic synthesizer soundtrack to accompany the game (which was the obvious and best choice), giving a much needed retro futuristic space vibe.
Composer: David Fenn
The soundtrack for Moonlighter has everything from dark guitar driven melodies, to relaxing piano pieces in the shop and village areas of the game.
The contrast in musical styles mirrors a big part of the game – the main character of Moonlighter is a shopkeeper by day, and a treasure hunting adventurer by night.
Game: Stardew Valley
Composer: Eric Barone
Not only is Stardew Valley an incredibly relaxing and entertaining game, it also has a great soundtrack. What makes this even more impressive is that the creator Concerned Ape (Eric Barone) did all the programming, art, design and the music!
This is a game recommended for both veteran and casual gamers alike – here are some beginner tips for getting started in Stardew Valley.
Game: Night Call
Composer: Corentin Brasart
For the noir murder mystery game Night Call, composer Corentin Brasart created fitting soundtrack with a dark atmospheric vibe. Ambient soundscapes and subtle synthesizer parts drive this soundtrack along.
Are there any other indie game soundtracks we’ve missed out on? Comment below and let us know.
Our future articles will be featured at our Article Category on the site.
Guest post by Side Mission Blog.