Game music of the day: Mass Effect

Game: Mass Effect

Song: Saren

Composer: Jack Wall and and Sam Hulick

Above: Saren from Mass Effect

The Mass Effect OST is one of those soundtracks that's so strong overall that it's incredibly difficult to pick a standout track. Every song builds on interrelated themes to weave a larger sense of atmosphere, that along with the massive Codex entries within the game, creates a fully-realized universe. You can definitely hear the influences of Dune and Blade Runner throughout too, but it still has a sound all its own.&

The insidiousness of mind control is a major theme in Mass Effect, with the Reaper ship Sovereign slowly asserting its will on both Saren and Matriarch Benezia without either of them realizing what's happening until it's too late. The key to Sovereign's mind control is in its subtlety, and as the sound of Saren's track ebbs and flows, you can imagine the not quite audible background hum of Sovereign's influence seeping into his subconscious. Maybe we're reading too much into it, but it sounds like you can even hear Saren's mind fighting back near the end before Sovereign hammers down his free will once and for all. It's fitting that the beginning of this track is also the game over music, because it embodies the kind of total domination, of odds stacked impossibly against you that almost makes you just want to give up forever.

And since I actually just beat Mass Effect for the first time last night (yes, I'm way behind), I have to include the end credits track:

Above: M4, Part II by Faunts

While the lyrics may seem like they don't quite fit, it doesn't matter because the song itself is still totally in line with the feel of the game. It conveys a reserved feeling of relief at their victory over Saren, with the foreboding sense that Shepard and crew's respite will be brief.

Jul 29, 2010


Game music of the day: Amplitude's David Bowie and Freezepop 
Everyone Says Hi by David Bowie and Tony Visconti



Game music of the day: Shadowgate
Main theme by an unknown artist



Game music of the day: Fallout 2 
My Chrysalis Highwayman by Mark Morgan


Game music


  • AnthonyGalindo - September 17, 2010 6:59 a.m.

    This is without a doubt, my favorite soundtrack to anything. Ever. Movie or game.
  • MightyMorphinPoltergeist - August 8, 2010 4:13 p.m.

    Having just finished Mass Effect 1 myself last week actually I had to instantly buy the end theme. Great stuff!
  • Samael - August 2, 2010 5:23 a.m.

    I was just about to ask when Brett was going to do a Mass Effect GMOTD. When you make one for #2 (and you will!), you have to include "The Illusive Man" and "Suicide Mission".
  • MassSaber - July 31, 2010 12:50 p.m.

    The Ilos battle music is my favorite from ME as for ME2 well thats a bit harder I'd say the Endgame mission but I leaning toward Illuive Man's theme
  • R_U_Guys_From_British - July 30, 2010 12:02 p.m.

    This is the best track from Mass Effect. When you come round to doing the Mass Effect 2 music one day you have to choose "Suicide Mission" as the entry. Suicide mission for me is the stand out track for the ME series (so far) with "Thane" coming in as a close second.
  • philipshaw - July 30, 2010 10:58 a.m.

    The music is this game is amazing, love the end credits because it sort of sounds like a Tool song
  • AngryScotsman - July 30, 2010 9:03 a.m.

    I (by which I mean TV Tropes) noticed that a variation of Saren's theme plays whenever you die. If you play on harder difficulties, then you'll grow to absolutely hate it. They condition you to hate Saren subliminally. I feel abused. Nevertheless, great music.
  • aniq16 - July 30, 2010 8:22 a.m.

    Another great game music of the day article.I personally think the ME2 OST was better than the first game,but the first one was great too.
  • JayBeat - July 30, 2010 7:19 a.m.

    My favourite games ever :) Love both the songs to death! thanks Carolyn.
  • WoodyWoodrowAndThePanfluteOfDestiny - July 30, 2010 4:13 a.m.

    Mass Effect owns, get that great feeling I had at the battle of the Citadel everytime I hear that end credits song
  • BLOODmuffins - July 30, 2010 3:17 a.m.

    Love it! Mass Effect has some of my favorite game music of all time and I'm glad to see you guys do a piece on it. I hope the music in ME 3 is as good as it was in the first two games!
  • michaelmcc827 - July 30, 2010 1:35 a.m.

    The end credits song to Mass Effect is still amazing, I hope they use it again for ME3.
  • grappler51 - July 30, 2010 1:28 a.m.

    Still haven't played this series but I'm definitley going to at some point. Can you guys please do a GMOTD article about Anamanaguchi?! Their new stuff for the Scott Pilgrim game is amazing!
  • eNdo602 - July 30, 2010 12:59 a.m.

    I swear to Allah, I want to play ME2 again because of this page. I already beat it twice. Must I do it again?!
  • goochbiscuit - July 30, 2010 12:17 a.m.

    ME 1's soundtrack captured the sci-fi feel of the game so well. Just fantastic music. I was initially disappointed by some ME 2's music because it seemed to shift to a more orchestrated score, instead of ME 1's electronic and synth tones, but I of course grew to love it just as much.
  • JohnDagger - July 29, 2010 11:52 p.m.

    As awesome as the ME1 soundtrack is, I have to say that ME2's is twice as good. Both are amazing achievements in scifi music, but the second game's music is amazing.
  • JohnnyMaverik - July 29, 2010 10:55 p.m.

    100% agree. Mass Effect had a great OST, and that final track just let me lay back, wipe away the sweat and angst of a 6 hour binge attempt at finishing the game, and enjoy. Completely awesome. My only complaint with the music in that game was the over-use of the sinister place track (duno how to explain it better) but they used that SO many times, nothing wrong with the track it self, I just bored of hearing it. Plus it was always used for the boring ass side missions.
  • Psylockerules - July 29, 2010 10:22 p.m.

    both fantastic tracks also love the bopping dance music in the club hen u dance. you lucky devil, u get to experience mass effect 2 for the 1st time. i was blown away- wait till you meet Morinth ;)
  • Defguru7777 - July 29, 2010 10:17 p.m.

    The Saren track is definitely the stand-out song of the game.
  • TURbo - July 29, 2010 9:47 p.m.

    My favorite piece of music in Mass Effect is the Uncharted Worlds in Mass Effect. I has great polyphonic texture, that someone from the the baroque period would enjoy greatly like Johann Sebastian Bach.

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