VGM Playlist #7 – ‘Europe’

This is a series of posts and playlists showing off video game equivalents to the themes of Classic FM’s Saturday Night at the Movies shows – this week, Europe

Not a May goes past in Europe without the over the top spectacle of glitter, key changes, capes and novelty acts that is the Eurovision Song Contest, where the whole continent (and Australia this year for some reason) comes together to celebrate… well, I’m not entirely sure, but celebrate it and have a grand old time they do. To commemorate the occasion this week’s theme is Europe and I’ll be looking at the attempts that various composers have made to convey the feeling of a city or country in a game to the player.

I feel the best way to start this off is to look at the ‘globetrotting’ games – adventures and stories where you move from country to country, diving head first into various locations around the world in order to advance the story. A great example comes from Barrington Pheloung’s scores to the Broken Sword games. Throughout the series, you travel across the world with many stops along the way, particularly in Europe. Whilst you can hear hints of Pheloung’s Morse themes throughout, his location pieces really do capture the essence of the area the game is portraying with its colourful 2D aesthetic which still looks impressive today.

Another globetrotting series comes in the form Sly Cooper, the stealthy, thieving raccoon. Pete McConnell captures the levity and humour of the games in his wide-ranging soundtracks from the series. Sly and company visit Paris multiple times and each trip brings with it a theme reflecting both the stealthy heists that Sly is famous for as well as the feel of the city around you. Looking at another title, some great work has been done to convey the likes of Italy, Turkey and France (amongst others) in the Assassin’s Creed series, Jesper Kyd’s work on Ezio’s trilogy standing out in particular

A notable genre of games when talking about Europe of course comes from some of its darkest hours; war. Valiant Hearts and Medal of Honor focus on the First and Second World Wars respectively but both treat the subject with respect, especially in the musical department. While Medal of Honor goes for a more serious Hollywood tone, Valiant Hearts leans towards the emotional side with a touch of levity. This War of Mine, a title inspired by the Siege of Sarajevo, also represents games based on war well with a dark, harrowing soundtrack to boot.

Elsewhere, the UK is represented by zombies and Sherlock Holmes (not at the same time), while Sweden (Year Walk), Italy (Ryse) and even the ancient Greeks (God of War) all get a look in this time round, as well as a couple of fictional wars based on dystopian futures. Europe certainly has a rich history in the video game world, leaning very much on its history to make it a viable gaming destination and we’re lucky that some of these locales have music of a high quality to reflect that.


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