The Soundtracks of some of Bethesda’s biggest game franchises as well as a few big offerings from some of the games they publish are now available on iTunes for your listening and downloading enjoyment.
If I were to give order to these, which I hate to do, I would probably go with Skyrim, Oblivion, Fallout 3, Morrowind, New Vegas and RAGE. This isn’t any indication of quality of the tracks though. I hope to have time to post individual track lists and thoughts on the soundtracks in follow-up posts soon. If you enjoy game music or are just starting to get into it, the seven albums above (with their iTunes links) are great way to begin your collection, particularly the works of Jeremy Soule.
Slender’s Woods is a new take on the “Slender” mythos. From what I have gathered Slender is sort of a new cult, horror figure, dreamed up on a forum and first given his big break in the game of the same name. There have been variations on this game, but the main premise is that, in the dark of night, with only a flashlight and no companions, the game-player must traverse a wooded landscape, and through buildings with only a flashlight, discovering pages/notes as this strangely elongated, suit-wearing figure with no face suddenly pops into view and gives chase. If he catches you, game over.
Slender’s Woods look to expand on some of the basic gameplay elements by adding in some simple story to the notes and having the player collect keys and door codes. With each pickup the danger grows nearer until the titular villain starts popping into view and scaring the crap out of the player. Just head to Youtube for tons of videos of frightened players screaming. Slender is a simple premise that delivers big on scares. It is a game based nearly solely on light (or lack there of), tone and atmosphere with the two latter attributes of Slender’s Woods greatly enhanced by the musical score.
Perhaps the most standout track of Aspetic Void’sSlender’s Woods soundtrack is the piece entitled Lullaby. An excerpt of Lullaby is the first music we hear upon starting the game. It sets the tone with a classic implementation of horror music. Composers have often taken a light-hearted instrument, usually associated with children, such as a cymbal, toy piano or bell, and played a simple melody against harsh or ominous tones. Just think back to the music of Halloween apart from the main theme, simple drawn-out synth chords enhanced with single piano notes.
The structure of this track sticks to the idea of using dissonance; creating a mood and atmosphere that is slightly off and therefore also slightly ominous. While Lullaby features a melody, the majority of the tracks are there to create atmosphere primarily through tones and soundscapes. This is fitting as Aseptic Void (David T.) describes his focuses as Dark Ambient, Experimental and Soundscape music.
Many of the tracks, such A Silent Place, are simply these dark soundscapes that are enhanced by creepy sound effects lightly peppered throughout: the occasional breath, a ringing tone or the like. They give off a mechanical/industrial feel. While tracks like this remain fairly calm, even monotone in their brooding, a track like Arrival goes much further in building tension. Arrival slowly gains in pace and volume until the track is esentially screaming at you.
If horror music is your kind of thing, give the Slender’s Woods soundtrack a try. I know that when I write in a particular style or on a specific theme, I like to have instrumental music in the background. I could see myself potentially using these tracks for that use with horror themes. Check out Aseptic Void’s soundtrack on Bandcamp and Slender’s Woods on Desura below.
If you’re a regular reader or friend, you’ll know that game and film music are areas that I pay close attention to and collect. Game Music has long been an under-appreciated and sometimes looked down-upon form of media. As game music has evolved to become more and cinematic or exploratory in it’s themes it has gained legitimacy in the form of major awards and other types of recognition. Going along with this, several “game composers” have crossed over to “main-stream” success in the film world. Rock Paper Shotgun examines this evolution in game music.
“Like a human q-tip David Valjalo embarks on a fantastical voyage into the realm of videogame music. Rounding up three of the most high-profile composers..” – Rock, Paper Shotgun
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“The band HEALTH’s killer Max Payne 3 soundtrack was easily one of the best of last year, and a chunk of the reason Max Payne 3 was among my personal top games of 2012. This video from The Creators Pro…” Continued at Kotaku via above link
Max Payne 3 has a secure place in my top 10 games of 2012. The really shows how well Rockstart can nail a cinematic experience in game form. They get a good dosage of help via the excellent Soundtrack work from band HEALTH. They discuss their process via the above article with an interesting branching approach to musical score design.
The first “Greatest Video Game Music” performed by the London Symphony Orchestra was pretty good. I wasn’t completely excited with their choices of what to play, but I’m always happy when game music gets some credit. IGN has listed that the first album is getting a sequel and the selections here are better to me, more diverse and cover some of my favorite games. Have a look below and visit the story at IGN through the above link for a video interview with arranger and composer Andrew Skeet.
Assassin’s Creed: Revelations - Main Theme
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Far Horizons
The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker - Dragon Roost Island
Castlevania - A Symphonic Poem
Final Fantasy VII - One-Winged Angel
Mass Effect 3 - A Future for the Krogan/An End Once And For All
Halo - Never Forget/Peril
Sonic the Hedgehog - A Symphonic Suite
Chrono Trigger - Main Theme
Luigi’s Mansion - Main Theme
Metal Gear Solid 3 - Snake Eater
Street Fighter II - A Symphonic Suite
Kingdom Hearts - Fate of the Unknown
Super Metroid - A Symphonic Poem
Diablo III - Overture
Batman: Arkham City - Main Theme
Deus Ex: Human Revolution - Icarus Main Theme
Fez - Adventure
Portal - Still Alive
Little Big Planet - Orb Of Dreamers (The Cosmic Imagisphere)
I am very excited to hear the orchestra’s take on Chrono Trigger, Castlevania and the big surprise to me here, Super Metroid, one of, if not my favorite, platformers of all time with excellent music. Arkham City already has the feel of a big budget film score, so that arrangement should do well. Deus Ex could provide for some interesting listening also. I will add pre-order/buy links when made available.
Greatest Video Game Music
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