In Virginia the soundtrack is a first-class citizen. It’s not simply just a well-written collection of pieces made for each scene, but additionally is a living, breathing creature itself. It weaves its way through you when listening, conjuring images either from the rural Virginia of the game’s setting, or any other place you care to find your mind wandering through.
Even playing the demo, the title screen alone has such a beautiful score that I was instantly hooked.
Virginia – A brief description of the game
Just to give you some context, the game has absolutely no talking in it whatsoever. You progress the story by investigating the current area, essentially playing through an interactive film. All conversations between characters are handled by well designed scenes; expertly-timed reactions and shows of emotions; and the score which seamlessly takes you by the hand.
The story is about an investigation into a boy’s disappearance, which soon leads to a bigger conspiracy overall. The two protagonists find themselves in a town very similar to Twin Peaks. In fact the aesthetic that the developers went for was Twin Peaks / X-Files / Outer Limits. And they nailed it with both setting and characters. The soundtrack for me however, is the real main character in Virginia.
Also worth mentioning is that this was recorded live by the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. It was recorded in the same location as both the ‘Lost Highway’ and ‘Mulholland Drive’ film soundtracks were. ‘Lost Highway’ and ‘Mulholland Drive’, in case you didn’t know, where both made by David Lynch, as was Twin Peaks.
Soundtrack as a character
Like any great character, the soundtrack to Virginia is consistent whilst remaining varied enough to stay interesting throughout. Even though the soundtrack blends seamlessly together, much of it is still distinctive enough to be able to pinpoint the scene of the game I remember it from.
A number of key pieces stand out for me as being particularly memorable. The first piece I remember loving, I actually heard from the demo I played before. This is called “In Dreams” and, as the title suggests, accompanies a dream sequence had by our heroine. It ends in a unique, abrupt way that brings back the feelings of its creepy scene instantly.
“Little Thugs” is different in that it’s probably the most frantic sounding, which fits its scene very well. It’s also one of the few pieces to be diegetic, meaning it is music whose source is actually shown in the film (in this case from a portable stereo owned by some thugs).
One other stand out piece, also seen within the game, is called “Sojourner’s Truth”. I truly don’t know how to emphasise the power of this song within the scene, and indeed in its own right. This piece of music is absolutely dripping with that ‘Twin Peaks Vibe’. If you hadn’t seen Twin Peaks for a few years you could be forgiven for thinking that this is from it. But please don’t think that it’s a poor-person’s Twin Peaks. This song, and indeed the whole soundtrack, comes from a place of huge admiration and respect for those influences, and stands high as the best homage to the previously-mentioned shows I have ever seen or heard.
In short, the soundtrack to Virginia is one of the best I’ve ever heard – and I mean out of all soundtracks; not just games. I have included my favourite scene from the game below, with “Sojourner’s Truth”, but I highly recommend actually playing the game through yourself to experience the whole package first-hand. It’s a short game, clocking in at about and hour and a half for me, but it is one of the best games I’ve ever played.