The Video Game Composer That IMPROVED Star Wars’ Music

Dark Music: A Video Game Composer’s Dream

This Game IMPROVED Star Wars’ Music by taking it to places the movies never dared to explore.

Working on Emberlight’s music has given me the opportunity to create some really dark video game music.

That kind of darkness in music is something I fell in love with when I first heard the music for Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II back when I was a kid.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II cover art used under Fair Use.

My step-dad had it on PC and when I’d go over there at weekends, I’d just sink hours and hours into it the game, over and over again.

It’s such an amazing game and the music goes beyond the Star Wars music we know and love from the movies. For those of you who played the game, I think you’ll agree, it goes without saying that as a video game composer, Mark Griskey just nailed this soundtrack.

The game’s dark twisted music takes John Williams’ fantastic work in the Star Wars movies as a jumping off point and goes to incredible new places…

If you’ve never heard the music for KOTOR II before, listen to this while reading and you’ll see exactly what I mean.

The music for KOTOR II is every bit as cinematic as Williams’ original score and yet it goes to places the Star Wars movies’ music never went to. And that, I think, is because this game, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II, went to places with its story and its characterisation that the core Star Wars movies never explored as well as they could have.

Obsidian Made The Right Choice With Video Game Composer Mark Griskey

If Obsidian had just gone, “Right, we need Star Wars music, so we’ll get a few tracks that sound like Star Wars” we would have had a soundtrack that was… Good. Alright but not breaking any new ground. And it would have done the job. But what they got with Griskey as their video game composer was next level video game music.

What we got was a soundtrack that, yes, fits seamlessly into the Star War musical canon but also told a story of an even darker side of the force than we had seen in the movies.

KOTOR II is a game that explores light and dark but also shades of grey in between that the films – to this day – have not even begun to consider. Where the hollywood movies have always played out good versus bad black and white stories, KOTOR II did something special.

And Mark Griskey did what all good video game composers do, he elevated the game’s core. He brought out the best in the game and elevated its story with what has, at least for me, become unforgettable music.

The music of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II is a video game soundtrack that captures the Machiavellian impulse of its antagonist precisely. And there’s a richness and depth that could only have been achieved by leaning into the darkness already present in some of Williams’ Star Wars music and then some.

In this way, KOTOR II’s music underlines what sets it apart from the music of its older sibling KOTOR I and from the original Star Wars canon. KOTOR II is not afraid to explore the true power of the dark side of the force. And it’s not afraid show the middle ground between the light side of the force and the dark side of the force.

And I for one am very excited to revisit this incredible game when the remake is released.

When Video Game Composers Do Dark Video Game Music Well

My love for the darkness music can portray started with Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II but it was only compounded when I played through games like Dragon Age: Origins.

Dragon Age: Origins cover art used under Fair Use.

In Dragon Age: Origins, you hear the work of a video game composer who truly knows their stuff. You hear mastery, even with the technical constraints of the time. (Digital orchestras and sample libraries just weren’t what they are now back in 2009)

The layers of yearning and loss Inon Zur built into what was also an incredibly dark soundtrack is part of what made Dragon Age: Origins such an unforgettable for so many. It underscores the game’s powerful story. A story of sacrifice, duty and courage in the face of near insurmountable odds.

That is how, when a video game composer does their job well, can elevate a video game and give its story a whole new level of depth. That’s how, when a video game composer does their job well, they can bring the best out in a video game and put it front and centre for all to hear – and feel.

When I turned my hand to Emberlight’s music, I brought that love of darkness in music with me.

As a video game composer, creating Emberlight’s music continues to provide me with opportunities to explore these emotional depths and write them into music. It continuous to provide me with opportunities to bring out the most thrilling and moving aspects of the game and illustrate them in the game’s music.

You can check the music I composed for Emberlight here.

If you’re interested in hiring a video game composer to create bespoke music for your video game, click here.


Published by Andey Fellowes

Since 2016 I’ve been creating bespoke music as a music composer, working with game developers and business owners to take their projects to the next level. I’m a 3rd generation performing and composing musician. As a child I absorbed music by observation and resisted the structure of academic teaching. This allowed me to hear and deconstruct music from the inside, rather than having it imposed by formal teaching. As you can imagine, that frustrated the hell out of my family, who wanted to share their gifts with me but that came later, when I reached out to find the missing pieces and when more structure was required in order to teach others music. My background is in rock, folk and electronic music. Today, I compose orchestral and electronic music for my clients.

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