Diegetic Singing in Games?


#1

Looking for examples of in-game singing for a side project I’m working on - specifically, performed songs that convey narrative information about a character or a part of the world. Here’s what I’ve got so far - additional input would be appreciated! :slight_smile:

Red, Transistor (multiple songs)
GLaDOS, Portal & LEGO Dimensions (multiple songs)
Audren, Darkstone (“The Darkstone Will Shine”)
The Gref’s Rest Bard, Pillars of Eternity (“The Sea and Her Love”)
Shymone and Scarbunkel, NWN2: Storm of Zehir (“Sword Coast Tavern Song”)
Leliana, Dragon Age: Origins (“In Uthenera”)
Maryden Halewell, Dragon Age: Inquisition (multiple songs)
Lohse, Divinity: Original Sin 2 (“Come to Me”)
The Karnaca Street Performers, Dishonored 2 (multiple songs)
Shan Yun, Dishonored: Death of the Outsider (multiple songs)
Tariq and Celeste, Pyre (multiple songs)
Priscilla, The Witcher 3 (“The Wolven Storm”)
Lauren Gambino, Cosmic Star Heroine (“Talk Back”)
King Dice, Cuphead (“Die House”)
The Barbershop Quartet, Cuphead (“A Quick Break”)
Zia, Bastion (“Build That Wall”)
Various Bards, Skyrim (multiple songs)
Anne Bonny, Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag (“The Parting Glass”)
Yuna/Lenne, Final Fantasy X-2 (“Real Emotion”, “1000 Words”)
Steampowered Giraffe, SteamWorld Heist (multiple songs)
Tequila Belle, The Sexy Brutale (multiple songs)
The Goblins, The Bard’s Tale (“The Chosen One”)
Neumond Recordings, Wolfenstein: The New Order (multiple songs)
Finn and Jake, Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion (multiple songs)
Razitof, Mira Bas Masquerada: Songs and Shadows (“Razitof’s Chime”)
Ratika, Omensight (“The Cage”)


Elizabeth, Bioshock Infinite (“Will The Circle Be Unbroken”)
The Bee Sharps, Bioshock Infinite (“God Only Knows”)
Shantytown kids, Bioshock Infinite (“Shake Sugaree”)
Carol MacLaine, Deadly Premonition (“Miss Stiletto Heels”)
Luna, Lunar Silver Star Story (“Luna’s Boat Song/Wind Nocturne”)
Barthandelus(?), Final Fantasy XIII (“Fighting Fate”)
Junebug and Jonny, Kentucky Route Zero (“Too Late to Love You”)
The Bedquilt Ramblers, Kentucky Route Zero (“You’ve Got To Walk”, “This World is Not My Home”)
Rosie Stark, Valkyria Chronicles (“A Love Passed On”)
Boz, Omikron The Nomad Soul (multiple songs)
Celes Chere, Final Fantasy VI (“The Opera: Maria and Draco”)
Dominque Pamplemousse (The Entire Game!)
Pauline, Super Mario Odyssey (“Jump Up Superstar”)
Haggis, Edward and Bill, Curse of Monkey Island (“A Pirate I Was Meant to Be”)
PaRappa The Rapper & PaRappa the Rapper 2 & Um Jammer Lammy (The Entire Game!)
The People of Spira, Final Fantasy X (“Hymn of the Fayth”)
The Demon of Song and the Milfanito, Dark Souls 2 (“Milfanito”)
The Joker, Batman: Arkham City (“Only You”)
The Joker, Batman: Arkham Knight (“I Can’t Stop Laughing”)
Glottis, Grim Fandango (“The Rusty Anchor”)
Eve, Her Story (“The Dreadful Wind and Rain”)
Yu Hansung, Tomodachi Life (“Coffee Addict”)
Dr. Peace, No More Heroes (“The Virgin Child Makes Her Wish”)
Margaret No More Heroes 2 (“Philistine”)
Cocona Ars Tonelico Qoga (“Cocona’s Song”)
Gene Gene, God Hand (“God or Demon”)
Various pedestrians, Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate (“The Murder Ballads”)
Ar Tonelico (I defer to syz’s explanation for this one, it’s beyond me :slight_smile: )
Phantom Rabbid, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle (“Phantom of the Bwahpera”)
The People of Ala Mhigo, Final Fantasy XIV (“The Measure of His Reach”)
The Great Mighty Poo, Conker’s Bad Fur Day (“The Great Mighty Poo Song”)
Eve, Hitman: Blood Money (“Tomorrow Never Dies”)
Devola and Popola, Nier (“Song of the Ancients”)
Mona Sax, unnamed janitor, Max Payne 2 (“Late Goodbye”)
Mordin Solus, Mass Effect 2 (“Scientist Salarian”)
Orianna, The Witcher 3 (“Lullaby of Woe”)
Magnolia, Fallout 4 (multiple songs)
Louis, The Walking Dead: Final Season (“Oh My Darling Clementine”)


Disembodied Singing
Danielle Sho, Prey (“Semi Sacred Geometry”)
Concrete Beach Party, Horizon Zero Dawn (“Last Girls on Earth”)
Various singers, Where The Water Tastes Like Wine (“Vagrant Song”)


#2

None specifically jump to mind other than the ones you already listed but this is a topic I’m also quite interested in so I look forward to seeing other examples people bring up.


#3

The first game that comes to mind for me when you say diagetic singing is Saint’s Row The Third because of that sing a long with the car radio in that early mission, but that doesn’t convey narrative information.

The jazz singer from Deadly Premonition probably sings about the narrative in some cryptic ways.


#4

Bioshock Infinite had a whole bunch, they’re covers and am old hymn but they do inform you about the world.


#5

Alan Wake features a fictional band, Old Gods of Asgard, whose music ends up taking both figurative and literal centre stage in the game’s plot. (The songs were created and performed for the game by a real band, Poets of the Fall.)

The original songs are “Children of the Elder God” and “The Poet and the Muse”.


#6

In FFXIII in the first Dysley boss fight his heads in the background are actually singing his theme song. I always thought that was more hilarious than scary.


#7

The ones I’ve found of Elizabeth and “God Only Knows” are perfect :slight_smile: The radio covers are a bit iffier because I do want to try and focus on in-game characters specifically - someone you can actually see singing the song, y’know?


#8

Admittedly, I’ve never played it - does the band show up at some point and perform them in-game? Or is it more like environmental/ambient music?


#9

Another that just occurred to me, Lunar Silver Star Story. I don’t know if it’s on the original Saturn version or not, but the PSX version has a cut scene where Luna sings about what they’re doing and her state of mind.

Also Rosie sings a song in Valkyria Chronicles, but I don’t remember the lyrics well enough to know if it’s really informing the world or just a sad song for what’s going on.


#10

The first thing to jump to mind was Junebug and Jonny from Kentucky Route Zero, where iirc you to get to select a key line in each verse for the band to perform


#11

I haven’t played the game since it launched, but if memory serves you only hear the song via recordings; I want to say some of the band members exist as NPCs, but you don’t see them perform. The main reason I mentioned it is because the lyrics tell Alan, and the player, what to do next.

Here’s a replacement suggestion, albeit one with less didactic lyrics: David Bowie as Boz in Omikron: The Nomad Soul.


#12

Whether they’re diegetic or not might be debatable, but the two Dominique Pamplemousse games are completely sung.

I suppose there’s also the Opera scene in Final Fantasy VI.


#13

Not sure if it counts all the way cause it’s kinda rough and early but Final Fantasy VI has a notable opera scene where one of your party members, Celeste belts out as best she can on that SNES sound chip.

There’s also Mayor Pauline and her band performing “Jump Up, Super Star!” in Super Mario Odyssey.


#14

In addition to harrytomlomsom’s example, Kentucky Route Zero also features diegetic music performed by the game’s ethereal and omnipresent bluegrass band, The Bedquilt Ramblers, in acts I and IV. Both songs reflect their respective narrative placements: “You’ve Got to Walk” in Act I conveys a sense of urgency in beginning a difficult journey and Act IV’s “This World is Not My Home” is a solemn dirge fitting for the story’s thematic low point. In addition, both songs are in the Country/Bluegrass style which is further reflective of the game’s geographic/cultural setting.


#15

gosh, excellent call. i forgot about these guys.
Im so looking forward to going back to this game once Act V is out


#16

There’s the barbershop quartet singing “God Only Knows” on the flying platform. There’s also a group of kids performing “Shake Sugaree” by Elizabeth Cotten, although it’s the original recording and not one for the game.


#17

There’s plenty of singing in Curse of Monkey Island. There’s “A Pirate I Was Meant to Be,” which is interactive, as well as some other little bits of singing.


#18

The Norwood Suite. Hard to explain how this one works, but it’s pretty much the whole game (and it’s great!).


#19

I can’t seem to find any examples - is there a particular scene I could use to demonstrate it?


#20

Since the Norwood suite doesn’t actually have any “singing” it doesn’t quite fit, now that I revisit your original post. Apologies for that.

But since the narrative in Norwood suite is about music, and the music itself often explains the relationship of characters to music, it’s definitely diegetic. But without singing it doesn’t fit your need. Again, Sorry for that.

If you are interested as a tangent to your work, this snippet kind of explains how things fit, but it’s very hard to get without actually playing the game and puzzling things out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gogak3RT_1Y

(edit: spleeing)