Inspiration Through Music: The Walking Dead Game Soundtrack

Last year, I learned that one of my favorite television shows, The Walking Dead, would be getting a video game adaption made by Tell-Tale. I was very excited. Tell-Tale has made a few CSI games which I’ve thoroughly enjoyed playing and I knew that they would do a tremendous job on The Walking Dead. But when I saw the finished product, I was still blown away. This is one of those few video games that I count as a piece of artwork. It plays a lot like the game Heavy Rain in the sense that it’s more of an interactive story. The player has to make a lot of very difficult decisions that will affect his relationship with other characters later on in the game and can decide the fate of these other characters, too. The game’s voice acting was top-notch (especially Melissa Hutchinson who voiced Clementine), the characters were realistic and entirely believable, and the scenery and plot always had me guessing what was going to happen next. Most of all, there was some extremely atmospheric music composed by Jared Emerson-Johnson to fit this gritty and dark landscape, music that was so immersive that it pulled you into the game before you had a chance to take a breath. It made the time to make the tough decisions tougher and depressing moments even sadder. And even better, the music was never right up in your face. It was never something that you truly noticed. It assisted the scene and did so without becoming the center of attention. That is what good soundtrack music is. You don’t realize its there until… you do. My favorite Let’s Player HarshlyCritical just finished up a playthrough of The Walking Dead which can be found here. Today, I’ll be sharing 6 songs with you and show you what I saw when I listened to them.

Alive Inside: He huddled under the thin awning, watching the rain pour down in front of him. Lightning split open the sky in the distance. He clutched the little girl close to him, feeling her every shiver. Every time she whimpered, it would send chills through him. He didn’t know what he was supposed to do. He didn’t have kids. Nothing had prepared him for a moment like this. He’d done the only thing he could think of which was to let her hug him and tell her it was going to be okay. He hated to lie though. He hated to give her false hope because he knew things would likely never be okay. The way this world had turned so violent and sinister so suddenly had him worried about the worst to come. And being stuck out in the rain with no place to turn to wasn’t much help either. What was he going to do?

Armed With Death: The car raced over the hills, taking them further and further away from the escalating danger. Every time she looked over her shoulder, she thought she saw one of them chasing them and would scream. It took her a long time before she realized there was no way they could have made it out of that city alive. There was no way that any one would have had the stamina to keep up with a car going so fast. They had made it out okay. Finally, when she could tear her eyes away from the back window, she curled up in the back seat and faced the front, staring through the crack between the door and the driver’s seat. Darkness was all she saw. Sometimes the black outlines of pines. In those few moments, she didn’t care where they were headed. Sleep was a temporary comfort, shielding her from the questions she’d ask later. All she needed was a little rest to help her get through the night.

Safe: He picked up the scrap of newspaper that had brushed up against his boot. Though it was just a single shred, he recognized the words. They talked about an upcoming election. He sighed as he dropped it back onto the street. Oh, how it was when things were normal. It had seemed crazy then, all of that hubbub of getting ready for elections, getting ready for work, getting ready for parties… if only he’d had some sense that this was the true definition of crazy. People had died left and right and now the only way to survive was by fending them off, to keep yourself from becoming one of them. He walked further along the road. It was quiet. But that didn’t necessarily mean it was safe. He had to keep moving and leave the scraps telling how it used to be behind.

Tension: She hid behind the wooden pallets, their strong smell making her squint. The single light overhead was a sickening white that lit up the area near the docks. And in the shadows just beyond the light, she saw them moving. These weren’t natural movements, like a person walking or running. This was something else, something bigger. Once it moved close enough to the light for her to see its body shape. Long, like some kind of an animal, with a large boxy head. And teeth; fangs that glinted under the reflection of that light. But it had all disappeared into the darkness in less than a second. Was she seeing things? Was she letting her imagination run away with her mind? She didn’t know what to believe. A knot deep inside her told her she wasn’t. And so she stayed hidden, not daring to go any further into the dark.

The Best For You: His hand dug through the garbage, his fingers passing over slick, slimy papers and old food scraps. The creature had wandered out into the middle of the road. It hadn’t noticed him yet but it would soon. When it did, he needed to be armed and ready. He hadn’t noticed anything he could use lying around the dumpster. There had to be something inside. Then, there was the sound, a low hiss that grew closer. He turned. The creature was scenting the air, turning in his direction. His hand dipped deeper into the garbage. Come on, come on… he chanted. The creature stepped closer… closer… closer. His fingers wrapped around something cool, rough, and metallic. He hefted it out of the dumpster, the weight of it throwing him off. A rusted monkey wrench looked up at him. Suddenly, it was the most wonderful thing he’d seen all day.

Falling: He trudged through the ancient ruins, staring up at the long white pillars. This place had always been empty. But now, it seemed hollow. The meaning he used to garner from these old stones was lost on him. It carried no story and ushered no wisdom upon him. He sat on a rock and gazed out at the dark world, the grass turned ashen on the hill he’d just climbed and the waters churning violently in the waterfall in the glade to his left. There was no going back. There was no saving her. He hadn’t been there when he should have. And worst of all what that he’d seen it coming and had still been unprepared for it. He put his head in his hands and breathed in.

Next week on Inspiration Through Music, we will be taking a look at Three Days Grace, a band I’ve recently gotten back into listening to while working on Book 3 of The Monstrum Chronicles. Stay tuned!



3 thoughts on “Inspiration Through Music: The Walking Dead Game Soundtrack

  1. Hey Katherine, this is Jared Emerson-Johnson. I am so glad you enjoyed the soundtrack so much. Thanks for the great writeup, and the kind words.

    all my best,

    • You are very welcome, Jared, and thank you for reading. I’ve enjoyed listening to your work while writing my upcoming apocalyptic novel. Will you be composing the music for The Walking Dead Game season 2? If so, I’ll be waiting with anticipation to hear what you’ve composed for it.

      Thanks again,

      • You heard it here first: yes I am composing the music for season two. I’m glad the WD music is serving a double purpose for you as you write! Good luck with the novel, and I hope you enjoy the second season’s score as much as the first!


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