Begin Again

And the world we knew.

Reader, I have a mild obsession with the first Sayonara Wild Hearts trailer since its reveal in late 2018. It’s exciting, vibrant, and says so much with barely any explanation. The visuals are enough to engage anyone, but it was the music that stood with me all this time.

Each song revealed itself for only a couple of seconds, and yet, that was enough for me. I would loop the trailer over and over imagining how they followed, and how they began. Some rogue on-camera gameplay clips showed up in between, which were enough to get a glimpse of what was to come, but the music didn’t fully click until I sat down and played the game myself.

Sayonara Wild Hearts does a great job at surprising you. It starts with simple mechanics and builds up from there to all kinds of places, from a mushroom trip in a forest to going full speed across a stream of puke. It’s beautiful and elegant along the way. The music, both an element that stands on its own and that is so integrated to what’s happening on screen, is also unpredictable. To me, each new level granted me the possibility of uncovering a new mystery, finding out the songs I had been listening for months truly were. Songs that I thought I had known forever. In reality, I was meeting them for the first time.

The mysteries had been solved, but my memories were still there. I remember the moments in which I listened to that trailer the most, writing about the game during lunch time in my full-time job and mentioning my excitement for the 100th time to my ex partner.

Sayonara made me reflect on how integrated music is with my life, intertwining in pretty much every major moment and meaningful period of the past decade. Its bit-sized levels are great at freezing a memory in time, forming a mind anthology that can be accessed and replayed indefinitely.

Mine would probably go like this.

The summer of 2010 was all about World of Warcraft and finally getting out into the world. This, of course, included a romance. The song that was playing during my first kiss was ‘I Gotta Feeling’ by the Black Eyed Peas. The second time I fell in love and things didn’t work out, ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ by Oasis made me cry on a Sunday afternoon. ‘Lost in You’ by Three Days Grace earned its place as “our song” with my first partner.

I recall listening to ‘Stray Bullet’ by KMFDM a lot on my way to highschool from 2011 until 2014 during cold mornings, getting used to a new environment, missing lost friendships forming new ones. Over time, my house became an unsafe place for me. RUINER gave me an illusionary room when I needed it the most, while ‘Underwater Sun’ by Sidewalks and Skeletons helped me to sleep during more nights that I can count.

Back in 2015, as I was still a hopeful graphic designer in the making, a completely new hobby came into my life unexpectedly. I had always loved video games, but never actually thought of writing about them. I used to read a local magazine, but not much else. Yet it opened me the doors to forums and new people that didn’t make an impact in my life until later on, when Agostina Aguirre posted a search of writers for a blog on Facebook.

This hobby would later turn into a career that I don’t see myself giving up anytime soon. It gave me a way to express everything that comes and goes from experiencing video games. A year after, I started working for a new site where I learned some of the best and the worst practices that this industry can offer, and I grew in so many ways.

Agostina passed away during that time. I can’t recall what I was listening to when I found out about it. I only remember staring at my phone for a while, failing to process it. I will always be grateful for this new world that she gave me. There’s too many songs that I could include here, but if I had to choose one, it would be ‘Old Friends’ from Transistor.

I started studying journalism in the coming years. ‘Help I’m Alive’ by Metric joined me in many subway rides back then. I ended up landing my first real job, where I reunited with some folks I knew from Twitter, along with making completely new friendships. In the meantime, I fell in love again. I listened to In ‘A Tidal Wave Of Mystery’ by Capital Cities a lot. And while our song was ‘Ho Hey’ by The Lumineers, I like to believe it was ‘Sex On The Radio’ by Kongos instead.

‘Santa Monica’ by Theory of a Deadman

My start in freelancing was tough and rather lonely for the most part, but I endured thanks to the support of my closed ones and people who were there to help me in the early days (thank you, Jordan). As editors took a chance on me, many folks showed up into the picture. I didn’t know Aron Garst that well when he asked me about my city for a possible vacation. A couple of months later we were having a beer(s). He not only gave me the huge boost of confidence that I needed, along with a thoughtful guidance that I’ll never forget. He also became a friend.

Both Jordan and Aron were the first of many. Freelancing introduced me to the most caring and supportive writers and editors in the game industry, and probably the whole world. And thanks to Into The Spine, I’m lucky and honored to  play a small part and give back what I learned to new and upcoming writers.

2019 was the year in which I read the most. It was in the year in which I met a few of my online friends, and made plans to meet even more in the near future. It’s the year in which I traveled for the first time on my own, and also start questioning to continue my career someplace else in the world. My partner and I went separate ways after three years, but we’re in good terms, and I reconnected with people that I thought I had lost. It was the year where I cried the most, where I started therapy and where I laughed my ass off countless of times, despite everything bad that surrounded me. ‘Sunflower’ from Into The Spider-verse always takes me back to the best moments, and it has been gaining so many different meanings in recent time.

Throughout the year, Sayonara Wild Hearts was always there. If I had to pick one song that stood with me the most, it would be ‘The World We Knew’. The level is presented in a retro-style shoot ’em up, dodging spikes and picking up hearts along the way. It’s tough, confusing, and ever-changing. It’s also the first and the last time it presents itself in the game.

In the background, the lyrics say that it’s too late to start anew, and it’s true. But despite all the ups and downs, the friends I lost, the moments of sadness and the moments of joy, the memories I’ve collected will always be a part of my anthology. After all, I know the songs that will take me back to them.

The lyrics say to begin again. But I’ll treasure any fragments left behind.

By Diego Nicolás Argüello

Founder and EIC of Into The Spine. Probably procrastinating on Twitter right now. Talk to him about pinballs, Persona, and The Darkness. @diegoarguello66

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