GAMING, DISCUSSION – Ever since I first saw gameplay footage for NieR: Automata, there’s always that glorious, wonderful soundtrack accompanied with vocals that seem to be gibberish. It wasn’t long when I noticed the soundtrack that plays when you get into Pascal’s village had vocals that sounded German in pronunciation.
What was up with that?
The NieR franchise and its soundtrack was composed by Keiichi Okabe with members of his studio, Monaca. The reception of this soundtrack was so well-received that Square Enix released four albums of the said soundtrack.
Apart from being praised for its originality, it was also praised for Emi Evans‘ vocal work. So it got me curious about what kind of vocal work did she do? Did she speak gibberish in a recording? Or was it some sort of language but distorted in a way?
First off, the game’s director Yoko Toro had only one request when it came to the soundtrack: it would use a lot of vocals. Okabe, also, did not want to use traditional lyrics since it felt like it would break the game’s world design.
Because of this, Okabe asked the vocalist Emi Evans to write her own lyrics using a new futuristic language. The composers gave her prototype versions of the songs and the style they wished the language to be in. She was told to follow the language styles of French, Scottish Gaelic, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, English, Japanese and add in invented words.
What’s amazing in this unique and new language was that she gave effort in making sure that it would sound almost exactly as those aforementioned languages.
She wrote the songs by listening to songs in many languages as possible and just mixed them all together. For other languages, she tried to imagine what they would sound like in a thousand years.
There are a few reasons why Keiichi Okabe and Yoko Taro decided to make the game’s soundtrack this way.
First, they wanted to use vocals for the majority of the game yet they did not want the said vocals to disrupt character dialogue during a cutscene. Instead they preferred the song to evoke emotions within the player.
Secondly, they wanted to have a futuristic feel emanating from the soundtrack as the NieR franchise is set in the distant future. What better way to give a futuristic feel by making a new language based on what we know now and how Emi Evans imagined them to sound like in the future.
This makes it clear to the player that in no way is the world we are in right now the same with NieR‘s world. If you look closely, the events in the game are set in the 1100+ AD – a very distant time towards the future.
It’s no wonder why NieR‘s soundtrack has won best soundtrack of the year. The first three soundtrack albums topped Japanese Oricon music charts, which reached rank 24 for original soundtrack, 59 for the first album, and 77 on the second one.
This is just for the original soundtrack.
The NieR: Automata soundtrack was highly praised by critics and its album peaked at rank 2 on the Oricon charts.
Vocals set on futuristic language based from multiple languages, music that fits the emotional aspect of the game – it’s without a doubt that the soundtrack for the Nier franchise deserved its awards and praises from the community.
It was a good call by game director Yoko Taro and composer Keiichi Okabe to do these things since without it, I don’t think NieR: Automata’s storyline would’ve made any impact to the player. The music in this game sets the emotional tone of a cutscene or a scenario.
Here’s a video about the soundtrack which would play when you got into Pascal‘s village in NieR: Automata.