Composers abound; moving beyond the visuals of gaming

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It’s no secret that along with visuals and gameplay, the music and sound effects can perfectly set the scene of various stages of a game. No one would be as petrified of Slender if there had just been “Entry of the Gladiators”  playing in the background while you walked around.

(Actually, on second thought, that might make it that much more terrifying)

The best games have pure immersion in the game itself, through visuals, sound, and movement (for you console dualshock lovers). And now, thanks to the Humble Bundle releasing the sound tracks to many of the bundled games it releases, people (including myself), have begun to enjoy these musical scores outside of the gaming worlds they were created to be in.

Now I know that many of you awesome game’rs are very well acquainted with the various sound tracks available… some of you may even enjoy the songs from games you don’t like. But for those who don’t know as much about some of the amazing music conveyed in these soundtracks, let me give you a quick run down of some of the best ones to check out, and why I adore them.

BASTION – Darren Korb

Now this one has been quite popular recently, through exposure on Steam and in the Humble Bundle, as well as winning Best Original Score in 2011. Considering this bloke apparently recorded the entire thing in his closet in New York, and composed the damn thing himself, Darren Korb is masterful at creating the perfect mix of fear, tension and atmosphere throughout the game.

Having, admittedly, not played the game (As of yet… it’s sitting in my backlog), I still find the songs haunting, and immersive in of themselves. The songs range from fierce fighting scenes to gentle melodic singing. And with this album, there is something I can do that I haven’t been able to do with a full album for years now: Listen to the entire thing in full.

As with the game, each song flows into one another, and is honestly an enjoyable experience to listen to through the full hour or so it goes on for.

Now the other merits of this album have been poured over again and again, so I won’t get into any more gritty details, but just say that it is an AMAZING album and you should get your hands on it, specially if you’re a blues fan.

SPLICE – Cypher Prime Studios

This cross platform puzzle game intrigues the senses with not just it’s perfectly spaced puzzles, but also in the gentle, almost classical music it floats your mind on as you explore the different dynamics of the game.

Unfortunately, this soundtrack only contains 5 songs, each named after mythical ‘angels’, almost disappointing the listener when the soundtrack finishes. While I do have this ‘issue’ with some game soundtracks, it’s easy to forget that they were made for the context of the game, which in this case, doesn’t take too long to finish. One could probably knock it over in an hour or two. Having too much changing music packed into such a short time period would just sound awkward, so while I say that I am disappointed by how short it is, it’s absolutely perfect for the game it was made for.

It’s a beautifully simple sound track, with a new spin on what many will think is ‘classical’ music, with heavy beats and uplifting crescendos that perfectly mix into the game, while also allowing a gameless listening experience.

NIGHT SKY – Chris Schlarb

This simple, small android based puzzle game and soundtrack took me aback when I discovered them together. While I downloaded the album first to listen to, then played the game, it didn’t hinder my experience in discovering that the soundtrack was perfectly produced for the game. While I still feel that for an android game, there is an inordinate amount of music to accompany it, Night Sky’s sound track is subtle enough to not sound over produced.

While this is a beautiful album I can and have listened through in it’s entirety, it serves better as a gentle background music, where as the others have played a more ‘in your face’ part of the gaming experience. It’s nice to have a bit of a change.

SUPER HEXAGON – Chipzel

For any of you unlucky enough to get addicted to the incredibly hard, mind melting game Super Hexagon, you will be all too familiar with the quick paced, enthusiastic music encouraging you to go further and faster.

While I’m not heavily into ‘techno’ music, this sound track perfectly sets the frenzied emotions alight, without the need for any obnoxious deep bass that we hear in many techno (not Dubstep, that’s another matter entirely) songs. Rather than relying on the fact that it techno music can be easy to remain repetitive, Chipzel perfectly throws you into spinning changes and doesn’t let you get comfortable with the song, while also remaining melodic.

Again, this is a shorter soundtrack, with only 3 different songs, spaced out over 6 levels of Super Hexagon. Thankfully when you have to restart the level after 4 seconds of game play, it doesn’t begin at the same position within the song, allowing for some sanity to be kept as you guide your triangle through the relentless barrage of lines.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

While I don’t want to completely bore you over my own personal musings regarding these beautiful soundtracks, here are some of my other favorite sound tracks from games. You can check them out on Youtube, or go through your backlog of Humble Bundle buys to download the albums.

HOTLINE MIAMI – Heavy techno
PORTAL – Computer techno
BEAT HAZARD – Speedy techno
THOMAS WAS ALONE – Alternative ambient
BRAID – Irish Orchestral
PROTEUS – Ambient electronica 
LIMBO – Mixed

 

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3 responses to “Composers abound; moving beyond the visuals of gaming

  1. It definitely seems like all of the music in most indie games seems to be well done and at least helps set the stage in great ways. While I am a fan of the bigger names, it’s always nice to get a surprise in the form of an unexpected hit.

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