Soundtrack Evolution: The Bioshock Franchise

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A few weeks back, I decided to revisit one of my favorite video game franchises, “Bioshock”. I was very excited to touch up on it, so I played the entire series. One thing intrigued me. The soundtrack from the very first in the series, “Bioshock”, to the most recent, “Bioshock Infinite”, has evolved extremely. It seemed that the more the game’s plot evolved, the music progressed as well.

Let’s take a look at the first installment, “Bioshock”, and the sounds that inhabit this game. You’ll take note that the music isn’t very expansive. Rather, it’s just an ominous back tone that picks up in moments of climax, especially to fit the story. However, this is perfect for the game, as “Bioshock”‘s story line and lore completely negate the lacking soundtrack. You can feel the presence of the sheer horror that is around you at every moment. Sometimes, a soundtrack doesn’t have to be loud and advanced to be right for the game. I apply this same analysis to, “Bioshock 2” as well, since “Bioshock 2”‘s location and lore are similar to that of its predecessor.

Source: film-intel.com

This simple soundtrack uses a more classic approach to horror themes, as it uses a variety of stringed instruments, all with sharp tones to invoke a sense of fear into the player. Since the series also takes place during the 1960’s, there are also charming little bits and pieces of tunes that were inspired by that era. You’ll find them during the loading screen, or even in rooms filled with blood. It’s funny how a tune that’s so innocent can fit the disturbing scenario so perfectly!

Now we enter the world of “Bioshock Infinite”, a game with one of my new personal favorite soundtracks from any video game. While the predecessors of the series were less focused on the music, “Bioshock Infinite” took it to a different level. I’ll begin with the anachronistic (classic piano sound) style of music that is played so frequently in this game. It is all over the map, being played in various locations. The track titled “Solace” is also played throughout the loading screens. However, what I found interesting is that different parts of the song were playing during different parts of the game. When the game picked up in the story, the section of the song which contains the slow paced, sharp sounding piano was playing before the level began. When the story was taking a “break”, from the constant action, the music was innocent and calm.

The barbershop quarter covering "God Only Knows". Source: gaming.stackexchange.com
The barbershop quartet covering “God Only Knows”. Source: gaming.stackexchange.com

Did I mention that there are anachronistic covers of hit songs from the 80’s? Oh, how silly of me. Well, there are a lot, so I’ll give you my personal favorite. The hit song “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears for Fears is remade beautifully in this game. The creators re-imagined this song into a Jazz-Waltz style, which makes the song move at a faster pace. These covers are quite excellent, but there are more songs with different styles. In the beginning of the game, if you explore the city of Columbia a bit, you’ll find a barbershop quartet covering “God Only Knows” by The Beach Boys. If you head over to the carnival in the second mission, you’ll hear a circus-themed version of “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper. These covers are everywhere, and it truly reflects the brilliant effort that was put into this game.

Elizabeth from “Bioshock Infinite”. Source: filmvz.com

There is plenty more to talk about, but I think I’ll let you find out for yourself. Check out the official soundtrack on iTunes or Spotify. As always, stay tuned for my article next week, and I’ll see you soon!

Thanks for reading! If you’d like, you can buy “Bioshock”, “Bioshock 2” and “Bioshock Infinite” all on Amazon.