Dropping Mics: 6 Times Video Games Manipulated You With Music

Hey, guys. This article was originally posted on NowLoading.co, which is sort of in the process of closing down. This is the only “exclusive” article I wrote for them, so I wanted to get it up here before it (might) disappear forever.

We all know that a good soundtrack can add layers of depth to a video game. When used correctly, music can give us the feels in ways that words simply cannot. Sometimes it’s obvious, and sometimes the developers sneak in little musical hints to see if their fans are paying attention. Here are six times that video game music unexpectedly dropped hints and dropped mics.

  1. Dragon Age: Origins — ‘In Uthenera’

A beautifully haunting melody by composer Inon Zur with a wonderful vocal performance by Aubrey Ashburn, “In Uthenera” is an old Dalish song sung by Leliana to the Grey Warden after completing the quest to recruit the Dalish elves. While at first blush it’s a poignant reminder of what the elves had lost, the translation from Dalish to English reveals a song about a dying culture that holds on to its humanity and its heart to the very end. And how fitting that Ferelden faces destruction from the Blight as it rallies for one last stand.

Credit to phantomdernachtt

  1. Dragon Age: Inquisition— ‘The Dawn Will Come’

Credit to DragonFire Studio

Easily a song that could be sung at a religious service in real life, “The Dawn Will Come” is a fabulous and unforgettable tune that the survivors of Haven spontaneously begin singing at the end of the first act of Inquisition. But the feels unexpectedly attack during the second verse:

The Shepherd’s lost, and his home is far.

Keep to the stars. The dawn will come.

I wonder if there is another Shepard that BioWare might be nodding to — one who walked among the stars and who, depending on your choices at the end of the game, can no longer return home? Clever, clever BioWare.

  1. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess— Midna Hums Her Own Theme

A little Zelda Easter Egg more than anything else, but to taunt Link, Midna leans back and hums a short phrase of her own song. It’s all the more poignant when it comes up later in the game for much more dire reasons.

Credit to sagesaria

  1. Metal Gear Solid— Before Meeting Psycho Mantis

Another small moment, but this one is so profound that even Solid Snake comments on it (it’s at the very end of the video):

Credit to A0den

Why does this matter? Well, chances are that up to this point you had barely noticed the ever-present music in the background, and now it was gone for no reason. Sure, it was a great moment of breaking the fourth wall, but it also suggested something strange was coming next.

  1. Dragon Age: Inquisition— The Bard’s Songs

These ditties are right up there with the sea shanties from Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, but the reason Dragon Age gets the spot over Assassin’s Creed is because if you listen closely, the bard’s songs evolve over the course of the game. Her music stays current, commenting on the state of the world and your actions in it. Listening to the bard’s songs in order paints an intricate picture of world events, even if you haven’t ever been on the frontline with the Inquisitor and her/his friends. It’s a nice, often unnoticed detail that makes immersion in this world of Thedas that much richer.

Credit to Hikaru Kuma

Bonus points for some of the melodies coming from other Dragon Age games, particularly the Leliana’s Song DLC. The original song, titled “Suledin,” comments on experiencing and moving on from heartache (for those of you not up on your Elvish), and the bard’s song in Inquisition talks about longing for someone to come and save them. Of course, “I Am the One,” the ending theme from Dragon Age: Origins, also makes an appearance (in English this time).

  1. Mass Effect 2— Meeting Ashley/Kaiden (And Other Original Mass Effect Companions)

Did you notice how in Mass Effect 2, any time you interacted with a character you originally met in the original Mass Effect game, the music subtly changed to the original game’s theme song? This continued into Mass Effect 3, but the reunion with the Virmire survivor in Mass Effect 2 seems particularly poignant.

Credit to FluffyNinjaLlama

What music moments in video games have made you experience all the feels? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll see you soon!
~ Athena

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  1. Breath of the Wild has a fascinating moments with music that made me feel the, well, feels. The games mostly silent aside from the occasional piano jingle and fights with enemies or bosses. But when you get on a horse and get to a full gallop, the piano jingle grows into something more and you start hearing elements of the main zelda theme. It’s an awesome realization of that hero feeling that makes itself apparent during this moment and ride through the wind basically. Another is near the end when you get to hyrule castle. The music is full blown orchestrated goodness with several elements and calls to old zelda themes, and it’s freakin’ epic. Loved those 2 moments.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s really cool. I heard it also used variations of old Zelda themes hidden within the environmental sounds, so that’s pretty neat, as well. I think Red Metal commented on how powerful it can be to have a “simple” song grow as the intensity of the actual gameplay increases, as well. Those sound like such amazing, moving moments in the game!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Lots of horror games have a musical piece start up when the pursuer is after you. I keep wishing that one of them will do some sort of fakeout with the music, scare you that you’re in danger when you’re not, but they never seem to.

    Music is one of the most powerful tools games have for conveying emotion. It’s always a fun experience when you find a game really playing with that.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Also, here for the Bard’s songs love! I heard them before I played Inquisition, and I enjoyed them so much I tried to learn how to play a couple of them on a twelve-string guitar. I am afraid to say that the only one my sister and I managed to figure out is Empress of Fire (not that I mind much, because it is one of my favourites). Shame about Celene being…well, Celene.

    I am not sure I can name just the one music moment, but here are a few:

    -I’ve always had a soft spot for the camp theme in Origins. It just makes me feel like I am home, even though it lasts about half a minute.

    -Aurora’s Theme for Orchestra from Child of Light feels magical and otherwordly, I never tire of it.

    -Bastion’s Build That Wall (Zia’s Theme) and Setting Sail, Coming Home make me a crying mess every time I listen to them.

    -Speaking of crying, Priscilla’s Song from The Witcher III is a really creative use of song to enhance a story, and it makes everyone in-game cry.

    -Jason Graves’ A Survivor Is Born from Tomb Raider is just perfect for the end of the game’s introduction.

    -And lastly, The Siren Song from The Secret World is exactly what a siren song should be: eerie, yet I cannot get enough of it or its melancholy, repetitive and meandering melody.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s excellent! I’ve been trying to figure the songs out, too. So far I know In Uthenera, Sera’s Was Never, and The Dawn Will Come on guitar and piano.They’re rather enjoyable haha.

      I love the camp theme in Origins, and I totally understand the safe feeling. Also makes it more poignant if the Warden (spoiler?) stabs Morrigan in Witch Hunt, because *guess which song plays??*

      These sounds like fantastic songs, and some of them are from games on my to-play list so I should get on listening and playing!!! Thanks for sharing these 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Dang, that is impressive! Sera Was Never seems like it would be difficult to play, my hands hurt just thinking about it.

        I could never kill Morrigan, but that is a low, low blow from Bioware.

        You’re welcome. 😃 Like I said, I am always up for the music talk.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. I really suck at crosspicking, so an up-tempo song like that seems like a hard time to me. 😬

            Hah! Well, they probably wrote themselves into a corner with that one. And there are only so many lyrium ghosts you can have in a sequel. 😛

            Liked by 1 person

                1. Elvhen magic, who know?

                  Ah, nice! That’s quite a lot of barre chords, though… you could also start it on an Am chord and do the entire song in 1st position if you don’t want to kill your index finger. Yes, this just happened on a gaming blog haha

                  Liked by 1 person

                  1. Haha, right. Too bad they did not have Morrigan say “’twas but a scratch”. Like, come on Bioware, it was right there in front of you.

                    Thanks for the tip! Hopefully I won’t have trouble with the barre chords, but all help is more than welcome. 😀

                    Liked by 1 person

  4. Someone likes Dragon Age and a certain badass bard a lot… 🙂 I loved the Marketplace background music in the Leliana’s Song DLC. I like it even better than the FFXIII battle music. Here are some of my special feelz music:

    1) The music during the movie that plays on Final Fantasy XIII’s title screen – It just takes me back to how I felt when i first played the game and makes me wanna cry like a wimp, haha.

    2) Labyrinth of Chaos from Final Fantasy XIII-2 – It plays near the end of the game so I can’t say too much. It carries the weight of the situation perfectly, and makes me feel all “whoa!”.

    3) The final boss theme from Lightning Returns – It’s this chaotic/weird mashup of a bunch of themes throughout the entire trilogy, with a choir. It made me feel super pumped and excited, and also kinda sad since I knew my shero’s journey was coming to an end.

    4) Suteki Da Ne from Final Fantasy X – It plays during the end credits and ALWAYS brings tears to my eyes. I’ll leave it at that.

    5) The two songs that play near the end of Hellblade – OMG that was such a perfect combination and left me with so many feelz as I watched the credits.

    6) Homecoming from Horizon Zero Dawn – Again, plays at the end of the game so can’t say much. It did make me cry like a baby for several minutes – the 2nd only time a video game has made me do that.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I have no idea what you’re talking about.

      Those sounds like excellent songs, and I can see how they’d give you (or anyone) the feelz. It also sounds like I have some listening (and playing!) to do! Thank you for the recommendations 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. The first time I ever heard Leilana’s Song I immediately burst into tears, and I couldn’t explain, but then again I’ve always been like that with beautiful music. Obviously, you know I’m going to answer with Final Fantasy for the game with music that gave me all the feels. There are too many songs to name, but that whole series has a “gives TSN chills” factor through the roof.

    Liked by 1 person

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