So over the last few months I’ve come to realize that the most important thing to me within a video game is the soundtrack, the ambient sounds in which can be heard, and the general mood that is created through these sounds as well as the aesthetics of the game. It’s the art style, and the ambient sounds and soundtrack that fuse together to create the general tone and atmosphere of a game. They make the world that you’re delving deep into come alive, and they give the soul to the experience itself. At least in my opinion. I often find myself simply listening to ambient sounds of a game on YouTube, or the official soundtrack itself so often. I reflect on the emotions that I feel as a result of playing these games, and I take vast amounts of inspiration from these worlds at the same time, which I then spin into writings that I enjoy to create. It’s for these reasons that I have decided to venture out unto a journey where I write about my favourite video game atmospheres and aesthetics in a new series called AAA games (Atmospheres and Aesthetics)
To get this series off the ground, I wanted to start with an incredible game that has an extremely in your face tone to it the entire time. The DOOM series was re-booted earlier in 2016, and the game features an explosive soundtrack in which was composed by the extremely talented Mick Gordon. As modern metal riffs fill your ears, you’re encouraged to continue mowing down all in your path. The absolutely devastating sound of an 8-string guitar’s lowest string being smashed constantly gives the player the motivation to continue traversing their way through this hellish world. People say that many different games make you feel like a true hero or “badass”, however in my opinion, DOOM truly lives up to that claim; through fast fast paced smooth, gore filled gameplay, and a melodic, eerie, and low toned soundtrack. DOOM makes you feel like a badass more than any other game has managed to over the last couple of years.
Crimson blood stains tattoo the surfaces that you climb and sprint past, while the sky above is cracked open with pure hell energy pouring out of it. The game is pure mayhem and it truly doesn’t let up. However if you just stand still in an area after you’ve cleared it out of the demons that sprawled themselves around it, and take in the smokey, deep orange ruins of the world that sort of remind me of The Pitt from Fallout 3, but with a slightly deeper and darker colour tone, then you’ll hear the howling of the winds, combining with occasional audio flashes of synthesized ambiance. There’s an edge to this ambiance. It’s relaxing to listen to, but when you’re in the game, and you’re staring out into the distance at a broken, desolate world, you are reminded through the ambient music that hell awaits around every corner. I was watching Mick Gordon’s Pax Australia panel from this year and he was discussing the DOOM soundtrack. Something very interesting that he talked about was how the thrash metal riffs that find their way into early DOOM games in 1993, didn’t so much fit into DOOM 2016. Gaming and technology has evolved since then, and so has music, particularly within the Metal scene. I particularly like the following quote from Mick that touched on this.
“The difference we realized between DOOM in 2016 and DOOM in 1993, is that you’re the bad guy. The Demon’s are scared of you. You’re the enemy, so the music for that guy needed to be evil music.” Mick Gordon then went on to explain that that’s how the use of 8 string guitars came about. He wanted lower, heavy, mean and evil sounding riffs instead of upbeat Metallica like riffs for DOOM 2016. That whole story and Mick’s Pax Panel in general led to me to realize another reason that I love DOOM. I already knew from the word go that I loved the gameplay, and I fell in love with the OST instantly, however it opened my eyes to the fact that the evolution of games and music have been recognized and combined skilfully. First Person Shooters have only become more and more fluid and smooth over the years, with the opportunity for gore to look very realistic and sickening. While metal music has taken the road of getting lower and heavier all the time with bands like Black Tongue and Meshuggah pioneer this energy filled devastating sound. The two just go hand in hand so so well. It’s the perfect concoction.
The technical side of games doesn’t really fit into this series that I am starting up, however I find it essential to mention that this game runs so well. Even on consoles the game maintains (for the most part) a 60FPS frame rate, despite the constant flow of destruction and enemies, as well as the gorgeous graphics.
Bethesda and Mick Gordon teamed up, and created something of a masterclass level. Smooth, relentless gameplay in a bloody, broken dystopia of a world, combined with modern, low metal riffs, make for something of a masterpiece. The ambient sounds that can be appreciated at quieter points of the game, are eerie and relatively spooky. The sounds remind the player of the hell that they are going to face (literally) and the monsters and enemies displayed are brilliant representations of hell. DOOM overall is an amazing game; one that I feel developers across the world could learn a thing or two from.