The music in Destiny tells a strong tale…
This month, I have been playing the beta version of Destiny almost ceaselessly on the PlayStation 4. The game, even in its beta stage, feels absolutely solid and looks remarkable. However, the main thing that caught my attention is the music, which is powerful to put it lightly.So far from what I have heard in-game, the music seems to have been carefully composed for different scenarios, and even though it has its epic moments, it mainly hooks you with its subtlety. It has been made to attenuate the game’s adventurous storyline and even tell a story of its own, which is apparent from the get-go via the opening cutscene.
In the opening cutscene, as the screens fades in from black, we are given an astonishing view from space as a spaceship enters the scene and appears to be heading to a distant planet. That distant planet is soon revealed to be Mars as the astronauts set foot on it, looking around for something. In what was brief for us, they trek through miles and miles of the uncharted planet to reach what they were probably trying to find. This entire scene feels mysterious in a very interesting way and it draws you in. That was largely thanks to one very important thing, the music. The intro has been linked above, which you should try watching both with and without the music. The music is just so carefully composed and has such intricate layers that give you the sense of exploration and discovery. The highlights are definitely the vocals and the rhythmic percussion, two staples of Martin O’Donnell’s work, that give it a very alien sound.
Another aspect that stood out about the game’s music so far is how it is used during gameplay. There are some exciting parts, but the composers rarely try to overdo it by using loud sounds to provoke tension. Instead, they rely on subtle orchestration techniques and nuanced performances to give you an array of distinct emotions. They’ve used music as a language to speak to you so far. Another particular area that I really like is the travel screen. In this screen, you are floating in space above earth and get to select your next destination. The sets of music that play during this are absolutely astounding as with their light-hearted melodies and mysterious percussion work that give you a sense of scope. Reminding you that the game isn’t centered on a single planet but rather a much more epic scale consisting of multitude of planets.
Now, I do not want to beat on this drum as much as others do, but it is deeply concerning that Bungie fired O’Donnell. As sound director of the score, O’Donnell worked closely with Michael Salvatori and Paul McCartney while creating the entire score. Though the soundtrack was a collaborative, you can certainly distinguish O’Donnell soul in some tracks that just scream his involvement. It is like hearing something from John Williams and knowing it is by him. There is an iconic sense of serenity to O’Donnell’s music. Whatever happened may or may not have been fair, but lets just hope that with the game’s release, we get a proper soundtrack and the planned stand-alone Music of the Spheres. If we don’t, it would certainly be extremely disrespectful to the talented maestros behind this intricate score. This soundtrack is without a doubt, going to be one of the hallmarks in video game music.
I hope you get a chance to listen to the tracks yourself if you aren’t able to play the beta. For now, I am off to play more of Destiny, even if it is only to hear more of the music.
Posted on August 9, 2014 by Harris Iqbal. Last modified on August 9, 2014.