Monday, June 12, 2017

Gaming Soundtracks: Stranger Things (Volume 1)

Image by Lakeshore Records.

This is post number 12 in the series “30 Days of Tales from the Loop,” a celebration of the game set in an 80s that never was.

Today I want to talk about another soundtrack that features useful background music for a Tales from the Loop game. It’s Stranger Things!

If you’ve seen the show, you probably noticed the cool, creepy, electronic music already. I’m a sucker for electronic music, anyway (TRON being one of my favorite soundtracks), so I loved this one. And it’s just as good listening to the music separate from the series.

Here are some notes on how you might use the individual tracks during scenes in your game. (You might want to grab an Eggo waffle before we start in on this, because we've got a lot of tracks to cover.)

  1. Stranger Things. The very-recognizable title theme. You might want to skip this while playing your game if you think it would make players think of Stranger Things and thus take them out of your setting. Or not, if you think it would put your players in a desirable Stranger Things mindset.
  2. Kids. Somewhat slow-paced, almost cheerful, with a nice melody. Would be good for introducing Kids!
  3. Nancy and Barb. Still electronic, but with a more traditional feel. A good backdrop for interaction between Kids, or perhaps between a Kid and a friendly robot.
  4. This Isn’t You. Much more mellow, but also peaceful.
  5. Lay-Z-Boy. This reminds me a little of the Close Encounters theme. Another good one for meeting a robot!
  6. Friendship. A light, peaceful track. Maybe play this when the Kids are at their Hideout, or when one is using Lead to heal another.
  7. Eleven. Slower, and perhaps a bit sad, or maybe it’s just relaxed. Also useful for Hideout music or for introducing a young NPC.
  8. A Kiss. A higher-energy track where something interesting is clearly going on. Such as when a Mystery intensifies!
  9. Castle Beyers. A tense track that implies an impending threat. (Here come the dinosaurs!) But then it gets peaceful. (There go the dinosaurs.)
  10. Hawkins. Slow, low-volume track, useful for anything other than action.
  11. The Upside Down. This track starts out pretty peaceful but takes a turn for the creepier about halfway through. You could play this when you want a scene to start shifting in a similar way after about two minutes. This is perhaps my favorite on the album.
  12. After Sarah. Sort of an ambient background track.
  13. One Blink For Yes. A light piano piece, perhaps useful for an investigation scene.
  14. Photos in the Woods. Another semi-ambient piece, with a sinister undertone. Definitely something spooky going on when this is playing.
  15. Fresh Blood. A somewhat lighter track signifying some sort of rising action.
  16. Lamps. A happy little electronic melody.
  17. Hallucinations. This one, to me, evokes mystery.
  18. Hanging Lights. A medium-intensity track suggesting someone is taking definitive action.
  19. Biking to School. Jaunty and friendly, suggesting the world is full of possibility.
  20. Are You Sure? A somber piece, but still emphasizing the electronic sound.
  21. Agents. Jazzy electronic beat that suggests something is happening, or about to.
  22. Papa. Not especially melodic, this track seems like it would have good general-purpose non-combat usefulness.
  23. Cops Are Good at Finding. Another one good for investigation, with an upbeat feel.
  24. No Weapons. A relatively quiet track of slowly building menace.
  25. Walking Through the Upside Down. An interesting, electronically-driven piece that builds dramatically. Good for setting up some surprise or climax.
  26. She’ll Kill You. A relatively slow track of intensifying action, featuring an accompanying drum beat.
  27. Run Away. As the title suggests, the pace of this percussive track would be good for a chase scene, or a scene with a time limit.
  28. No Autopsy. This is ephemeral-but-not-quite-scary sounding music good for general purpose use.
  29. Dispatch. Short, quick, and exciting. Good for a chase or brief moment of action.
  30. Joyce and Lonnie Fighting. A quiet track, with an undercurrent of excitement.
  31. Lights Out. The sounds in this track are disconcerting, from the buzzing synthesizer to the periodic louder percussive beat. Use this to unnerve the Kids.
  32. Hazmat Suits. A menacing, eerie track. Good for introducing an adversary.
  33. Theoretically. A pleasant and optimistic track of scientific wonder.
  34. You Can Talk to Me. A short, quiet track that’s peaceful and with perhaps a bit of wonder.
  35. What Else Is There to Do? Creepy, mysterious, and low-key. Good for exploration.
  36. Hawkins Lab. A deep-sounding track that starts out menacing and quiet but increases in activity and interest (and perhaps hopefulness) in the last 45 seconds.

(Earlier in the month, I discussed another useful soundtrack for a Tales from the Loop game called Island Tracks.)