The problem with video game soundtracks is that either they become too repetitive after you play for a while or they’re not so good, to begin with. One of my favourite pastimes is finding songs which fit the game’s theme and mood, becoming a new custom soundtrack. In fact, I already wrote a few posts about it in the past. This time, the topic is dystopian totalitarianism.
So you want to be a resistance hero fighting oppressive regimes in the grimdark future? Or maybe just impersonate an ordinary citizen trying to survive the boot stomping on his face, forever? Since one of my earliest childhood memories is attending a Labour Day parade and waving a tiny paper red flag towards some fat Communist Party officials standing on a balcony, I may be the right guy to do the job and recommend you five songs which will get you into the Orwellian mood.
Our sons will be born with their fists raised up! An anarchist classic from the times of the Second Spanish Republic and the civil war. Recommended for stories set in Latin America and the Caribbean, like Just Cause or Red Dead Redemption, but also for the few games portraying the Spanish Civil War. Unless you want to feel ironic and listen to it while playing Tropico and executing those pesky revolutionaries.
Every time I about a Western rock star or another celebrity doing something supposedly brave, risky and controversial, I immediately think about Yanka Dyagileva and then just sneer. Wanna see a real punk rock rebel? The Russian songwriter and singer was a member of an underground music movement during the final years of the decaying Soviet Union. Of course, being a subversive in that time and reality could get you into real trouble, including harassment and torture by the Communist police, and all this reflected in Yanka’s lyrics. The song above is particularly haunting story about a couple of young lovers getting arrested and murdered by the StateSec for the grave crime of having a walk down the tram tracks. It works very well if you want to immerse yourself into the world of Papers, Please.
The enfants terribles of Slovenian music scene have recently gained some notoriety in the news after playing a concert for the North Korean regime, including the Glorious Leader himself. Even before this happened, they’ve been always known for using Fascist and Communist aesthetics, supposedly to mock the modern popculture and the mindless masses bowing before their music idols, or so the critics claim. Geburt Einer Nation is typical for their work: they took a cheerful song about peace, unity and understanding, and turned it into a cover mixing 80s disco with a marching song. Including a video clip which would make Leni Riefenstahl swell with pride. All this seems perfect for the new Wolfenstein games.
Since I used an image from Pink Floyd’s The Wall, it’s only proper to include a clip from that film featuring a musician who suffers from a mental breakdown and starts to impersonate Sir Oswald Mosley himself. Weed out the weaklings. A song tailored for We Happy Few.
Our courage wants to laugh. Our anger wants to sing. Lonely struggle of individuals against oppressive powers is the constant theme in the work of the Luxembourgian artist Jerome Reuters. Frankly, I have no idea which particular game to recommend for this one, but you’ll like it if you’re a wannabe rebel anyway.
How about you? Do you have any favourite songs which would sit well with games set in dystopian settings? If your answer is yes, then the comment section is waiting for you.