Whether exploring the far reaches of the galaxy and finding monstrous leviathans, waging war against an awakened fallen empire, or fighting in an intergalactic war across multiple galactic nations, the music of Stellaris serves as the background of sound to every encounter you’ll find within each Stellaris galaxy you play. The music in Stellaris feels more like an open and ambient experience compared to other games that switch between combative, lulled, and segueing tracks.
From the sounds of discovery in the song “Faster Than Light” to the discovery of species and the emotions evoked from “In Search of Life” and “To the Ends of the Galaxy”, Stellaris’ music functions in a variety of capacities.
Take, for instance, the song “Gravitational Constant”. A song with string-like synths juxtaposed by a wave of a scratchy, computerized synth sound that waves back and forth from left to right, right to left, each wave different in variation but still the same in consistency. Shortly after, the track morphs to include both drums and the constant triplets of a scratchy bass line while still retaining its strings. The mystery of space travel and how we could traverse the galaxy, let alone still retain communication and the same depth of time.
“Pillars of Creation” evokes the same mystery under the advent of sounds, with mystical synthesizers spread throughout the track. Stellaris’ soundtrack takes heavy inspiration from the ambient composers of old. From Brian Eno to Michael Stearns, the music is reminiscent of a time when space exploration was in high fascination, when we weren’t constantly obsessed with the most immediate social media or TV moments in our lives, but rather the awe and fascination of the cosmos above us and the long pursuit to colonize the solar system and the galaxy.
The music places the game into those rare moments of history where space exploration came with a breakthrough that made us as people think about more than just ourselves and how small our own issues are. From the first humans landing on the moon to the photographs of the Pillars of Creation and the high resolution photos of each planet in the solar system (now all the way to Pluto), Stellaris is a game that takes you on a journey across hundreds of years, from the discovery of a galaxy not unlike our own, fraught with the struggles of a space civilization keen on spreading its benevolent or malevolent ideals upon other potential space civilizations.
Whether the galactic civilization of your creation is a murderous clan of space raiders or an empire of true divinity and/or free expression, Stellaris’ soundtrack has every musical mood for every mission, objective, and personal goal within the game itself. Similar to how Michael Stearns’ traverses a variety of galactic emotions on the album Encounters, Stellaris and its music suite is a journey across space in a controlled substance kind of way; no matter where you stand as a civilization, the games immersive sounds and exploration of an unknown and undiscovered galaxy in real-time make for a gaming experience quite unlike any other.
And next to the gameplay is a soundtrack breathing with the “Birth of a Star”, prompting players to explore a galaxy of equal parts beauty and lurking danger. No matter where Stellaris takes you, there’s always a piece of the galaxy unexplored. Due to the procedural generation of each galaxy, the game feels alive, and the music is one of the forces behind this liveliness.