This week, I’m continuing the trilogy (which I’m referring to as a “Thrillogy” because I make poor decisions and my friends would rather watch me crash and burn than correct me) of piano pieces I started last week. The previous one was a villain’s theme, but this week I have something a little more somber for you guys.
Anyone who says video games aren’t an art form has never finished the final installment in a series and walked away reflecting on it, letting the story, characters, and their experiences as a protagonist in some far-flung world resonate in their mind for days. Sure, the games that have this effect on me are few and far between, but every now and then I’ll finish out the closing confrontation in a game that really effects me, and not just in a “Wow, the rendering on the final boss’s exploded brain matter is something I’m going to tell my grandkids about” kind of way. I’m talking emotionally.
See, in a great movie, you might walk out of the theater still pondering over what you saw, because you feel connected to the characters you just spent two hours with. You feel invested in their struggles, their triumphs. But the thing I love about games is that you can have this same experience, only amplified, because those same struggles and triumphs happened to you. In a video game, you, the player, are the center of the story, and when that story ends, it can hit much harder because it ended due to your actions, your decisions.
For me, the best way to round out an experience like that is with a really thoughtful final composition, which is usually played during the final cutscene, or over the end credits after it finishes. Something that encourages the player to sit in silence for a few moments rather than popping in a new disc or heading off to bed and really think about what they’ve experienced.
Below is one of my favorite examples:
Say what you want about the ending to Mass Effect 3, but that final track, which accompanies the ending cinematic no matter what your choices in the final moments of the game were, really spoke to me. After hours of action followed by a tense final confrontation, the somber piano and slowly-building orchestral writing really lent a sense of finality to the end of the game. You knew there wouldn’t be a sequel this time, and the music encouraged you to consider the consequences of your actions.
So here’s my take on a track like that. Hope you like it: