Theme songs in video games haven't been quite as prominent during the eighth generation as in previous generations. Back when games like Tetris and the original Super Mario Bros. released, the inclusion of a recognizable, catchy theme song was basically mandatory to help ensure that your game stood out and that it was both visually and audibly recognizable. Over time, not every game adopted the method of having a memorable theme song, and throughout eighth gen -- other than Nintendo -- it has slowly disappeared from being a standard requirement to making a game come across as a timeless classic. With the exception of The Last of Us Part II, which has thankfully bucked trends by having a very recognizable theme song thanks to Gustavo Santaolalla. For gamers who absolutely loved the original soundtrack from the first game, you can get a small taste of what you'll be in for with the soundtrack to the sequel thanks to the theme song from Gustavo Santaolalla being made available courtesy of a YouTube video.
The two and a half minute theme was posted on the YouTube channel TheMadGoose. It starts very slow and in a very subtle matter. This is the same theme as the one from Naughty Dog's original The Last of Us, but now there's a subdued presence of instrumentals, with an acoustic banjo leading the way throughout the majority of it. Half a minute in we get what sounds like a didjeridoo providing a small semblance of ambiance. A minute and a half in and the banjo resumes a cadenza into the melody, which is then followed by the accompaniment of the larger movement from what sounds like a cello and the didjeridoo to close out the theme.
There are a few takeaways from this theme compared to the original theme from the first Last of Us. First of all, the banjo is played a lot slower and is more sullen than the acoustic guitar in the original game. After re-listening to the theme from the first game, the didjeridoo still seems to have some small presence in the very back of the them, but it's drowned out by the strings and guitar ensemble. There's also the immediate and recognizable beat of the drums in the Santaolalla's theme for the first game, hinting at the more thematic tension and pace that the first game maintained.
The absence of the drums and the lack of the escalation of the melody seems to hint at a much sadder and more somber story that the music is telling for The Last of Us Part II. While a lack of percussion might not seem like a big deal, usually the percussion instruments are played on beat to set a rhythm of the music to the action taking place on screen. A lack of a defined beat means that you can't go in expecting standard action sequences, especially while the theme song is playing, or any variation of it.
That's obviously not to say that there won't be action in the game, it's just more-so to warn gamers to go in expecting the unexpected. This isn't even too far removed from what Naughty Dog creative director Neil Druckmann has mentioned in the past about the violence in the game not being themed around "fun" but being themed around being "engaging," as noted by Games Radar.
So far we haven't seen much of the gameplay, but what little we have seen has been extremely brutal, very intense, and quite gory. If the theme song and the trailers are anything to go by, The Last of Us Part II might be a rather sad journey for Ellie and the others when it exclusively releases on the PS4 at some point in the future.