Mass Effect’s Soundtrack Was Beautiful And Vital To Its Success
Mass Effect is still a game I have a huge soft spot for. When ever I’m asked about my favourite RPGS, its name is never far from my thoughts. There’s a number of reasons to why I treasure Mass Effect. I could talk about the story, the epic space drama set among the backdrop of mystery. I can talk about how effective the dialogue system was at making me feel in control of the conversation. Perhaps I could spend time gushing on about the fantastic cast of characters.
In truth, it’s the music of Mass Effect that has remained with me. Often overlooked, the soundtrack is the main thing I remember time after time. Cut scenes can tell a story, dialogue can fill in the gaps but the music is what placed me into the universe.
There’s a strange lull to each piece of music featured. It’s familiar in nature, yet alien in sound. Mysteries waves of sound tied directly into classical methods. Bioware seemed fully aware of the sounds that graced their game. The game never leered over the music, far from it. Each planet and ship became a stage for unique sounds.
Mass Effect’s main theme conveys everything the game has to offer. It builds up into such a bizarre sound. Explosions of exploration roar, but that alien sound is always there, as is the mystery. Dramatic spikes kick in, breaking away from the pace of the intro. The theme perfectly mirrors the main plot of the game, a rarity in most games.
The Normandy’s deck echoes with yet another brilliant piece. Dark and brooding, laced with electronic sounds. Perfectly crafted to fit the exploration planed. It’s the little things that add up to the powerful affects. Little touches of wonder mixed with dangerous sounds, reflecting how each mission could lead to danger.
As the game progresses, the music changes with it. The relaxing sounds and mysterious sounds soon become aggressive. With the dangers unmasking, the soundtrack no longer needs to hide. Robotic chimes hiss at the player, sharp beats prod and poke reminding of the hazards ahead. Shifts in sound are natural, hand in hand with events of the game. Almost like the ink colouring the outlines of picture.
If there’s one section that represents just how important Mass Effect’s music is, it’s the Citadel. Each section has a unique sound. Initial areas are accompanied by dazzling sounds of wonder. I clearly remember sitting back and looking at the screen in awe. Such an realised environment filled with imagery. The music made this a moment in video games I would not, could not, forget. From the Wards to the Presidium, they all host sounds that make hairs stand on end.
Depending on decisions made in game, the end credit track has varying levels of relevance. The lyrics feel perfect for the games focus on choice and consequence. Regardless of how the player walked their path, characters met harm. By the time the credits hit, and the scale of situation is made clear to the player, the closing track is perfect.