This is one of those times where it is incredibly difficult to talk about the music for a game without talking about the game itself. Designer Jenova Chen and thatgamecompany have released three games for Sony's PlayStation Network (this means the games are only available via download, so you don't purchase a physical disc, and the game doesn't cost the usual $60 either).
Austin Wintory wrote music for thatgamecompany's first PSN game, flOw, and also for their newest, called Journey.
While you can play Journey by yourself, it's designed as an anonymous two-player experience. Not long after you begin a new Journey, you're paired up with a total stranger. In normal online multiplayer experiences, you'd see a person's online moniker. Not in Journey.
You can't speak to the other person, and since you have no idea who they are, you can't send them a message. If you press the circle button, you can chime to each other, which makes pretty great additions to an already great soundtrack. You simply work together toward the goal of getting to the mountain.
Create timeless entertainment that make positive change to the human psyche worldwide.thatgamecompany's Mission Statement
And yes, it's that simple.
Get to the mountain.
Thatgamecompany designs games for people who didn't know they like games. They also design games for people like me, who love games, but also long for an experience that doesn't involve shooting something.
Here is their mission statement: "Create timeless entertainment that make positive change to the human psyche worldwide."
In Journey, I get to dance; I get to make music. I get to fly on the backs of huge kites that move as gracefully as blue whales through the air. I get to slide down sweeping hills of sand and snow on my feet, like skiing. It feels like magic, and it's fulfilling.
All of this is an incredibly satisfying experience — and then we get to Austin's music.
The best way to describe the way Austin's music works with the game is ballet. It's just like ballet. I never thought a game would make me think of ballet, but this is exactly how the music works with the game — the gameplay and music are as cooperative and seamless as I've ever experienced in multimedia.
If you have ever once had a fleeting thought of dabbling in console gaming, this is exactly where you start. Listen to Austin Wintory's story behind creating the music to Journey on the newest episode of Top Score from Classical MPR, also available on iTunes.