Video Game Music Spotlight #14: A Moment of Calm - ArticleTaneli Palola , posted on 17 April 2020 / 2,196 Views
With the situation around the world being what it is at the moment, I thought this would be a good time to just sit back and listen to some calm and tranquil pieces of music from the world of video games. So, if you have a little bit of time to spare, just sit back for a while and listen to a few of these relaxing tracks. Also, once you're done, please feel free to share your favourite relaxing video game songs in the comments section below for others to listen to.
Castle in the Mist
There are very few games that have successfully created such a unique atmosphere that nearly two decades after their release there's still almost nothing else like it, but Ico is one such game. There's something very dreamlike about the game, its setting, and the story. Part of this is due to Ico's wonderful score, which subtly and quietly builds and supports the tone that's evident throughout the entire experience.
Early Afternoon in the Village
(from Tsugunai – Atonement)
The score for Tsugunari – Atonement is one of Yasunori Mitsuda's less recognized works, but it is by no means any less excellent than his other, more well-known scores from across his long career. In fact, the soundtrack is likely the highlight of the whole game, which wasn't very well received and sold quite poorly both in Japan and the United States. That doesn't take anything away from the excellent music, though, and for fans of Mitsuda who might have missed this particular score of his it's well worth seeking out.
Home Sweet Home
(from Beyond Good & Evil)
Beyond Good & Evil was a game I bought years ago practically on a whim for the PS2. I had heard good things about it, and thought I'd give it a try. I'm very glad I did, as it remains one of my favourite gaming experiences from that particular console generation. One aspect that doesn't get brought up very often in discussions about the game is its music, but I thoroughly enjoyed the score. Wonderfully chill tracks like 'Home Sweet Home' are a major reason for that.
(from Dragon Quest IX)
Dragon Quest as a series is one I've had fairly little experience with, having only ever played Dragon Quest VIII back on the PS2. Of course, much of this was because the first seven games weren't released in Europe, and I never owned a DS to play IX on. However, the one aspect of the series I have been able to enjoy regardless of that is the music, which has traditionally been very good. 'Heaven's Prayer' from Dragon Quest IX is a perfect example of the style of music the series has become known for over the decades.
FTL: Faster Than Light is a game that at first doesn't really inspire calming or relaxing thoughts in my mind, as there's always a certain sense of urgency and threat running right below the surface of the game. Yet, when I went back and listened to more of the game's music, I realised that there were many quiet, slow moments to be found within it as well. I honestly didn't pay too much attention to the score when I first played the game, but when I later returned to both the game and its soundtrack it really hit me just how great and varied the music in FTL is. From intense combat music to slower, more ambient pieces like this, the score is filled with excellent tracks and is well worth listening in its entirety.
A Cat Relaxing in the Sun
(from The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky)
The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky is the game that introduced me to the series, and it instantly made me a fan. Since then I've played three other entries, with another one waiting its turn in my backlog. One element that immediately stood out to me was the music, with several pieces getting stuck in my head just in the first few hours of gameplay. This quiet, reflective piece is among my absolute favourites from the game.
In a Limestone Cave
(from Xenosaga Episode III: Also Sprach Zarathustra)
One sad reality of video game localization, especially in generations past, is that many great and interesting games never make their way to some parts of the world. Xenosaga III was one such game, as it was never officially released in Europe. As such, I didn't actually hear the game's score until many years later. Among the pieces that stuck out to me was 'In a Limestone Cave', largely due to its calm tone and lovely instrumentation.
(from Gravity Rush)
In my opinion, Gravity Rush and its sequel are easily among the most underrated games of the last decade. The world is wonderfully unique and unlike anything I've seen in other video games, the story and characters are genuinely engaging and interesting, and the gravity-flipping gameplay is a joy. The music is also fantastic, featuring many beautiful and evocative pieces like the one above.
One of the most audiovisually gorgeous titles of recent years is without question Gris. It boasts some of the best 2D animation I've ever seen in a game, and that's pretty key to its success because the music & visuals are used to convey every emotional beat & storyline detail to the player (there isn't any dialogue). I could have picked almost any piece from the game's exceptional score, so I strongly recommend playing Gris and experiencing it all for yourself.
Yonah ~ Pluck Ver. 2
Another highly underrated game, though admittedly one that has earned some well-deserved recognition in recent years thank to its incredibly successful sequel, NieR: Automata. Although in terms of gameplay the sequel was a vast improvement, in many other ways both games are great in equal measure. The story, characters, and indeed the soundtracks are all excellent, as this piece from Nier perfectly demonstrates.
Question of the Month:
What Are Your Favourite Relaxing Pieces of Video Game Music?
There are countless wonderful pieces of music from video games that I could have picked here, but the one that first came to mind when I thought of the question above is 'Dream of the Shore Near Another World' from Chrono Cross. It's one of my absolute favourite pieces of music from Yasunori Mitsuda and I can listen to it pretty much forever without getting tired of it.