Checking the Score: Dramatical Murder

While many point to how lifelike the next blockbuster action title is or how gorgeous an artistic indie darling is when it comes to evaluating a game, these visuals would lose their impact without a stirring soundtrack to score them. From the chip-tunes of Super Mario Bros to the Gregorian chants of Halo, video game music brings players closer to immersion and fantasy. Much like how a movie’s soundtrack sets the tone for dramatic scenes, game music also helps players connect emotionally with the story.

Checking the Score is a monthly feature devoted to these crucial compositions which are literally the soundtrack to our gaming lives. Delving into what makes them impactful, the process of composing them and the intricacies of each score, our aim is to put a spotlight on the aural backbone of gaming.

Dramatical Murder is one of the most popular boys love visual novels out there. Nitro+ Chiral first released in the game in 2012 and it has since grown with additional games, manga and an anime adaptation. Many English-speaking fans exist as well, even though up until now an official English version has never been available. This is all changing thanks to the release by JAST Blue on PC. Those who dive in for the first time will be in for quite a treat. The storyline, cast of characters, visuals and soundtrack all work together to create a tremendously memorable game. The soundtrack deserves special mention because it remains just as fresh now as it did upon the original release in 2012.

At the start of Dramatical Murder, protagonist Aoba is just living his life without much disruption. Things quickly change as he finds himself pulled into a VR game called Rhyme without any warning. This is just the start of strange, dangerous events unfolding around him. An early track on the soundtrack exudes a real “futuristic” vibe to get players in the mood for what’s to come. It’s creepy at the start and has a mysterious edge. It feels like the beginning of a journey.

Aoba truly kicks off his journey once he enters Platinum Jail, a playground for the wealthy. Having never been there before, Aoba has no idea what to expect. Once inside, however, Aoba is blown away by the extravagance. This rich realm comes with a fitting song. This tune feels playful and befitting of what is effectively a gentrified mall. Unlike some mall music, though, this song is actually worth listening to.

Not everything is fun in Dramatical Murder — not by a long shot. Aoba is regularly thrown into terribly dangerous and frightening situations. At these times, the soundtrack is no slouch. Even before you’re aware of the danger, the music clearly expresses the impending trouble. The following song on the soundtrack is extremely foreboding. Anyone playing the game knows that when they hear this song Aoba is in for a bad time.

There are many memorable tracks on the Dramatical Murder soundtrack. One is of course the introductory song AI Catch by Goatbed, but that’s too obvious of a selection. One of the coolest tracks only appears in a certain route and near the ending. It stands out, however, as utterly entrancing. It starts with a dark introduction before swapping into something strangely melodic. The purpose of this song in the game is creepy and makes the track memorable even though you only hear it once or twice in the entire game.

There’s a lot to like about Dramatical Murder. The soundtrack is wonderful and great to listen to even after completing the game. From the intro song to the many unique ending theme songs, there’s so much great music throughout. Folks should look into playing Dramatical Murder if they want an engaging new BL visual novel. Those that don’t feel the need to play can still jam out with the excellent soundtrack.