Hey, I'm normal. Just a regular guy going about my business! But poke ye not beneath this sallow skin's surface, lest the dark truth be revealed: for I worship SATAN. And my rite is simple: I love knocking people down in cars with Christian radio playing.
One of the very best things about Far Cry 5 is the soundtrack, composed by Dan Romer. If you want to read something that's actually informative and interesting about it, I recommend Riley's wonderful piece on how these tunes show a different side of Far Cry 5's world. There's also a great NPR article on the soundtrack's composition.
But let's get back to the action. There's a lot of hand-wringing about violence in video games, but I've been blowing people away since I was about 10 and I've only killed about four people IRL. Seriously though: don't you find all the hand-wringing a bit much? I see video game worlds as the systems they are, and the NPCs or enemy AI running around in them are just a part of that. What I'm trying to say is that I find killing video game enemies in tonally inappropriate ways quite funny.
The Far Cry 5 soundtrack is split in two. One half of it is performed by the 'Hope County Choir', and then many of the same songs are reworked with a more contemporary sound. But it's the Christian rock side of the deal that I can't get enough of. I don't believe in anything godly, the big man ain't my vibe, but there's an undeniable richness and warmth to choral singing and the platitudinous nature of its lyrics. A favourite is 'Oh John', a song about the prophet particular to Eden's Gate. It's an amazing song to kill people to.
The lyrics are simple but ingenious: "Oh John / Bold and brave / He's finding us a family / He's teaching us the faith." The assonance and half-rhymes are bold and brave themselves, the monosyllables creating a sense of certainty which is driven home by the conjunction of 'brave' and 'faith'. Those swept along by John are the courageous ones too, the song tells us, for believing in his faith.
Another instant classic is 'For He's Our Shepherd', a jaunty-yet-longing tune that again focuses on the role of the prophet. This one's even more explicitly about the submersion of individual will into the group, using the traditional Christian imagery of "For he's our shepherd / And we're his flock", and adding that delicious little knife-twist of the promise. All cults in some way depend on a promise, something that can't be had elsewhere, and Eden's Gate is no exception. Often this promise involves an imminent day of judgement - and so in this song we hear that "Now he's our captain / Our ship's about to dock." The use of 'now' is beautifully judged, with its implicit and inarguable assertion that the good stuff is only happening because of the captain's arrival.
It's a gorgeous backing track for when you're mowing down cultists in a cult base.
I don't know why the conjunction of these songs and driving people over appeals to me so much. It's a sense of giving the cultists what they deserve, sure, but at the same time I think my enjoyment of the music is relatively pure - I don't believe in god, yeah, but I believe in good tunes and can respect a sense of community. It's hard not to bob your head along, as I end up doing at the end of this one.
You may notice that the music volume in some of these clips is different: sadly Far Cry 5 only lets you tweak the game's master volume, whereas I wanted the music loud and the effects down. So the ones where the music is quieter are the game untouched, and the louder ones I was playing the OST on a loop in a browser with the in-game radio off. Ubisoft: patch the audio options! Give this good Christian boy the aural bliss he deserves.
I don't have any revelations to end on, but there is this thought. What first set me off on the path to murdering NPCs to Christian choirs was the following moment, which happened fairly soon after starting the game. I was just bumming around, as you do, and then the next thing I knew was mowing down enemy after enemy, plus innocents, while the glorious harmony of "let the water wash away your sins" played.
The yoking-together of these things amuses me on a base level. But there was something more. In that brief period I felt immortal: like a prophet myself, returned in alien form, and ready to strike down with great vengeance and furious anger these followers of a fool's idol. It is a truism that video games often make the player character a god, or godlike. Yet how rarely we inhabit the splendid brocade of organised religion, with its gorgeous accoutrements and top-tier iconography, and are a real crusader.
I'm not saying Far Cry 5 casts you as a deity come to wreak vengeance on a small town of sinners. That's just how it felt to me. Each bump on the bonnet was like a new beat, every bullet a pulse of divine harmony. I am a true holy roller. They say the devil has all the best tunes. But they should visit Hope County, Montana.