Recently, I begun a new Blog series titled ‘AAA Games’ or ‘Atmospheres And Aesthetics’. The series sees me discuss with you, the internet, my favourite art styles, soundtracks and general atmospheres found within video games. Last week in the first entry into the series we talked about the bloody, demonic, and very eerie re-boot of the classic DOOM. This week we’re taking a slightly different turn, as we are going to be taking a look at Bethesda’s Skyrim. This Open-World RPG was originally released in 2011, with a Special Edition released this year in 2016 in which included higher resolutions, smoother textures, improved lighting as well as some small bug fixes. The game itself is renowned for the freedom it gives you the player. A vast open-world that is easy to jump into, as well as being sprinkled generously with quests, miscellaneous tasks, secrets, random encounters and more sees the player constantly immersed with things to keep them busy. Over two years ago in 2014, Skyrim had sold a staggering twenty million copies of the RPG, making it one of the highest selling games of all time, so without further ado, let’s get right into why I personally love the atmospheres and aesthetics of this game.
I briefly mentioned in the opening paragraph that Skyrim gives the player a lot of freedom in a vast world, and I wanted to delve deeper into that. Due to the huge scale of the world in Skyrim, a lot of travelling is required. Even if the player chooses to fast travel to as many locations as they possibly can, a lot of walking, running or horse riding will be required to get from place to place. It is during this time of wandering through this lush fantasy world, that I always remember why I love Skyrim. Even just walking through the world, allows the player to take in fruitful, expansive, contrasting and downright inspiring terrains. Snow sprinkled mountains in which are indeed climbable, autumn infected forests nearby to a town called Riften in which display deep lovable colours. Long forgotten, trap ridden caves in which foliage is beginning to take over and so many more terrains make this world one to remember. This world is one of the reasons why I have uploaded hundreds upon hundreds of screenshots to Steam for everyone to be tormented with. Well, blessed with really. The games aesthetical basis really means something to me, due to the fact that I in the real world am a true admirer of woodland terrains, particularly within the autumn period.
Continuing on, I wanted to move onto something that has a very strong correlation with the terrains of this game. The weather. Like most Open World games of the modern era, there are various weather types that are implemented into this game, and the game randomly selects a different type of weather as the day progresses, or as you move around the world. A very cosy and homely atmosphere is created by the tapping of the rain, as it is by the soft howling of the winds during a white out Blizzard. I feel that there is a comfort that comes with things such as the rain, or cold winter howling winds when we’re admiring those particular weathers from the comfort of a warm place. Whether that be as we admire the blustery conditions within a video game, or through pictures on the internet, I do feel that I, as well as many people love to be immersed in these weathers as they essentially create a mood. I certainly have a love for the autumn in particular when it comes to real life. Continuing, I know many people who aren’t big fans of video games in general however show a keen interest and love for Skyrim, and I do feel that that is because of the homely nature of the game; the deep, immersive ambient soundtrack to this game, infuses with the immaculately detailed world that Bethesda have created. Furthermore when I find myself inside a local pub within Skyrim, and there’s a lute player literally taking requests, there’s a cracking clementine fire and a warm room to rent, I get that feeling of relief when you come inside from a freezing cold day. You essentially, feel like you’re, well… Home. Skyrim just creates a true escapist experience.
Skyrim’s soundtrack makes for the perfect companion when travelling the Province. Tranquil pieces such as ‘From Past To Present’ which caress your ears convert to tracks such as ‘Steel On Steel’ when you must fight an incoming group of bandits, or a dragon. The soundtrack was composed by Jeremy Soule, a man whom I don’t know much about, however I do know that he created a masterpiece soundtrack that I, and many others hold dear to our hearts. The accompanying music is soft, and always appropriate for the situation at hand. It meshes perfectly with the high fantasy setting. The game understands well, that you might be taking in some gorgeous scenery, or if you’ve entered a dark and dank cave and so the game caters to those situations, making you feel even more immersed in the experience. As solo violins intersperse with the rest of a creeping orchestra to create a sudden, epic piece of music it really does take you the player back. It truly is a soundtrack that I appreciate.
There are a lot of games that have Atmospheres and aesthetics that I appreciate, however only some of them can inspire me to try to create my own thing outside of the game. Skyrim is a game that has inspired me to write certain pieces of poetry, and to start writing a fiction story. I have written a fantasy short story in the past, however after getting back into Skyrim, I became so inspired by the terrain, the soundtrack and the general aura of the game that surrounds the player, that It made me want to create my own universe, and I think that is truly amazing. A piece of art, leading the viewer and or player to want to create their own piece of art is something truly special. Of course I’m not the only one who has been inspired by this game. Impressive photo edits, GIF sets, fan art, fan fiction and more have been created as a result of people playing this game, and it really brings to light the passion that people feel for this game.
To wrap this entry up, Skyrim includes a soothing soundtrack which is extremely appropriate for the game you are playing. The high fantasy aesthetic of the game, combined with the dynamic weather systems and ambience of the experience really make for a truly immersive experience. While gameplay mechanics are not a spotlight topic for this blog series, it is important to note that the vast nature of the world in Skyrim, and the uncanny ability to explore so many terrains truly makes the game feel like a second home in many ways. While writing this, all I can hear in my headphones is the soughing wind of the fantasy universe and it only makes me yearn for a warm bed in Riverwood. Thanks to Bethesda for creating a truly incredible world which includes beautiful fantasy terrains and never ending exploration.