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 isstill totally in line with the feel of the game. Itconveys a reserved feeling of relief at their victory over Saren, withthe foreboding sense that Shepard and crew's respite will be brief.

Jul 29, 2010

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