Memorable main themes from video games

The perfect themes for setting the mood

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Quintessential themes for setting the narrative. 

The main theme of a video game sets the mood for the narrative. Whether it is horror or action, the stylistic choices depict what players are going to encounter. The following are some of the most memorable main themes from video games:

1. Beyond: Two Souls 

This video game’s narrative focuses on the hardships of a woman named Jodie Holmes. She goes through trauma and often is turned away by society because she is haunted by a spirit named Aiden. The main theme of the game composed by Normand Corbeil and Lorne Balfe, uses a single vocalist to hum the melody, creating an eerie yet sorrowful tone. Bowed strings play long notes that crescendo and decrescendo in the background, creating a dramatic tone. Together, the two sections create notes that feel breathless. 

2. Far Cry 5 

In this installment of the Far Cry series, the setting is Hope County, Montana. Due to the country influences this game has, the composer, Dan Romer, decided to include instruments in the game’s score that are influenced by the countryside with the banjo and acoustic guitar taking over the melody of the main theme. The slow tempo reflects the stillness of the open roads Montana has.  

3. Overwatch 

Superheroes are used in many forms of entertainment such as movies, television, and games. Typically, composers will depend on brass instruments to carry the power heroes wield. Overwatch is no different. The game revolves around picking and switching characters that are “heroes” in their own personal narratives. Neal Acree utilizes brass to lead the motif while strings, woodwinds, and percussion back up the main section. The theme feels empowering to the listeners and will likely become an earworm. 

4. Yoshi’s Wooly World  

Yoshi games are typically portrayed as family-friendly. They use a bright color palette, and they also use instruments children usually learn first. In Wooly World, the composer, Kazumi Totaka, decided to use the recorder to play the main theme. This creates a warming sound due to the recorder not having a serious tone. If another instrument took over the melody, the mood of the game would feel significantly different. 

5. Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune 

The Uncharted series focuses on action and the fun of treasure hunting. Some players may tie the connection to other treasure hunters like Indiana Jones and Laura Croft. In this game’s main theme, Greg Edmonson gives the spotlight to all sections of the orchestra. This makes the theme feel vibrant and exciting due to some composers using a group of instruments for one purpose in the whole score. Uncharted brings all the sections alive to create a sense of excitement for all. 

There are many video games that have memorable themes due to their composers utilizing instrumentation in different ways. However, when players are playing the game, the main theme should set the mood of the narrative they are going into. If the composers created a score well, the main theme will likely be sung by players when they put their controllers down.  

This is a selection from the Oct. 21 issue. To view the full issue, visit:

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