The Soundtrack of Bioshock
Bioshock’s soundtrack is perhaps one of the most powerful game soundtracks I’ve heard – And I’ve never even played the game. Although the game itself recieved numerous excellent reviews, the sound design did too.
In particular, Bioshock’s theme tune, “The Ocean on His Shoulders” sounds so ethereal and emotional that it’s so easy to enjoy it as a piece of music in its own right without ever having to have played the game or know what it’s about. Most of the tracks are composed using a full live orchestra, rather than digitally created, which makes the music sound all the more epic and movie-like.
Indeed, 2K Boston, the developers of the game felt that everyone should have the opportunity to listen to the soundtrack and decided to give it away as a free download.
In an interview with Garry Schyman, composer of the soundtrack, Music 4 Games asked what kind of emotional pallet he worked with:
As it turns out this game has a soul. Deep down there is a tragic and very sad aspect to it. After all it is the story of humanity’s quest for the age-old hope for utopia on earth (or under the sea in this case) and its utter failure. So besides writing scary or eerie music, I wrote a very sad theme that gets to play every now and again. Otherwise one can imagine being in one of the scariest carnivals ever and trying to escape it; then writing music to match that.
The sadness really comes through in such tracks as the main theme and the “scariest carnival” aspect can be found in the fourth track, “The Docks”, which sounds like a ship swaying back and forward while carnival music is heard in the background. It’s done in such a way that it makes you feel like you’re in the mind of the main character, experiencing the horrors and dangers that are presented within the game.
I find that because the quality of the soundtrack is so high, I can happily listen to and enjoy it all of the way through. There aren’t many game soundtracks that can claim to do this. The score was so good that it won Best Original Score at Spike TV’s Video Game Awards.