Friday, July 1, 2016

Soundtrack of the Month: July 2016


To close up year two of the Soundtrack of the Month series, I decided to feature something very near and dear to me, a game called Bastion. Settling on an apt description for the genre of the game's setting is, in itself, quite difficult. Perhaps, a post-apocalyptic steampunk fantasy story which takes place on a nation consisting of floating islands. The music is masterfully written and composed by Darren Korb, who also serves as the singing voice for the character Zulf.

The album, like the game itself, is a superb mix of genres, described by Korb as "acoustic frontier trip-hop." It's incredibly unique, and matches perfectly with the bizarrely unique world of Bastion itself. The album opens up with the game's narrator and deuteragonist, Rucks (voiced by Logan Cunningham), giving an introduction, after which the listener is treated to the music of the game.

There are three sung songs in the game, and four on the album. All of them are sung by characters in the game. "Build That Wall" is Zia's theme (sung by Ashley Barrett), and "Mother, I'm Here" is Zulf's theme (sung by Korb). "Setting Sail, Coming Home" is the ending theme, which is an amazing duet hybrid of Zia and Zulf's themes. The final, album-exclusive song is "The Pantheon", sung by Logan Cunningham as Rucks.

Featured Tracks

Track 2: A Proper Story – A proper story's supposed to start at the beginning. Ain't so simple with this one.

Track 12: Build That Wall (Zia's Theme) – When Zia's world literally crumbles to dust around her, her only solace is to sit and play music, and pray that one day help will arrive.

Track 16: The Mancer's Dilemma – A number of the songs can sound quite haunting, highlighting a feeling of tragedy and fleeting hope during gameplay.



Purchase Bastion (Original Soundtrack) on Bandcamp, iTunes, or Amazon MP3.
You can also purchase a physical CD on the Supergiant Games Store.
Or listen to it for free on Spotify or YouTube.

Bonus: In celebration of the conclusion of this series' second year, I put together another playlist of various great soundtrack pieces. Some of them are from soundtracks I've featured; many are not. You can check out the playlist here, and last year's playlist here.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Teaser

Here's an obscure teaser for tomorrow's Soundtrack of the Month.


Hint: It's not Overwatch.

As you can tell, I put a lot of effort into this tease, and I definitely didn't think up something to post at 10:30 the night before. Toodles!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Soundtrack of the Month: June 2016


Infinite was composed as the soundtrack to a science fiction exploration-survival video game called Grimm Odds. The game was far in development, but publishing plans fell through last-minute and the game was unfortunately cancelled. Only the soundtrack, composed by Mike Raznick, remains.

The album has a wide range of sounds, from ambient to cinematic. At times it reminds me of another soundtrack Raznick composed, that of Spate, a very dark and atmospheric game. Infinite has much lighter themes, but still contains the same kind of ambiance from time to time.

Featured Tracks

Track 2: Despair Theme – This is the song that most reminds me of the Spate soundtrack. That melancholic cello—so good!

Track 9: Climbing the Peak – The soundtrack was supposed to invoke a sense of awe as the player explored a strange and beautiful alien world. I feel the music accomplished this feeling even without the game to accompany it.

Track 20: Liftoff – This incredible theme was likely to be used for the end of the game, as the player finds a way to leave the alien planet.



Purchase Infinite (Original Soundtrack), or listen to it for free, on Bandcamp.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Soundtrack of the Month: May 2016


I am a vocal fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The quality of Marvel movies has far exceeded that of most other films in the industry, and has remained consistent in this top-notch quality for half a decade. The storytelling and direction has been absolutely superb, and beyond industry standards nearly every step of the way. Along with this impeccable level of presentation, we have the music.

Iron Man 3 is a subject of much controversy among Marvel fans. I may value it as one of my favorites, but many people don't feel the same way. Even if you found the film less than satisfactory, you'll undoubtedly still very much enjoy the music. Brian Tyler paints an incredible backdrop to the story and Tony Stark's struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder, following the events of The Avengers.

When it comes to film soundtracks that could be described as "epic," the names of a few composers often get tossed around. They're typically from past generations, known most prominently for works from decades ago. Brian Tyler, on the other hand, has only been rising to fame in the last decade, and stands on his own among long-time legends in the industry.

Brian Tyler is the perfect fit for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the scale of its films. After Iron Man 3, he would also return to score Thor: The Dark World on his own, and Avengers: Age of Ultron with legendary composer Danny Elfman. No further collaborations with Marvel have been announced, but it'll be no surprise if he returns to the film universe in the future.

Featured Tracks

Track 1: Iron Man 3 – Epic. Epic, epic, EPIC. That is the word the comes to mind when I listen to the main theme of Iron Man 3: Epic!

Track 3: Attack on 10880 Malibu Point – I'm not sure, but this might just be the most intense soundtrack cue in my library.

Track 6: New Beginnings – On the contrasting side, we have softer, more melodic music to accompany the less active and more hopeful portions of this film.

Track 20: Can You Dig It – This song admittedly took some time to grow on me. It's a more active, energy-pumping rendition of the film's main theme, used for the film credits. It's the kind of music you could work out to.



Purchase Iron Man 3 (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) on Amazon or iTunes.
Or listen to it for free on Spotify or YouTube.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Game Review: Momodora


I’ve had my eye on a particular game series for some time now. It's called Momodora, and it's a series of action platformer games that just released its fourth installment. While Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight looks to be a highly sophisticated and polished game, the original Momodora was released in 2010 with a far more amateur look and feel to it. For me, however, this was a very nostalgic period for indie games, especially those created with Mark Overmars' Game Maker, as Momodora was.

Momodora is an intentionally, and sometimes frustratingly, difficult game. The creator even suggests that players skip this game and move on to its sequels, as it was inspired by the difficulty of early arcade games. I, being the gamer that I am, and knowing that I’ve probably played much more frustrating games from the same era of the industry, promptly ignored this warning and played the game anyway.


Throughout Momodora you get access to a number of different weapons that you can cycle through, although you'll probably just end up alternating between a couple of them. Players are also given two secondary items you can cycle between that you’ll find yourself using quite frequently. One creates an easily-breakable shield around the character offering more defense, and the other is a boomerang that basically works as a secondary weapon, which comes in handy a lot.

The story... is almost entirely in a text document. It's not actually addressed in the game until the end. This, as well, may have been inspired by early titles in the game industry, whose stories would be almost entirely restricted to the games' manuals. The graphics well fit the era and style of game, as sort of a medium between Cave Story and Theseus and the Maze. The music is good, and fitting. The entire soundtrack (and all of the other sound effects) are included in the game's zip folder as .OGG files.


While I was able to get through the game and I very much enjoyed it, it's most certainly not for everybody. If you're looking for a more sophisticated experience that's not so much of a frustrating challenge, perhaps you should just jump ahead to a later game in the series as the developer suggested. I might be a little more sympathetic towards this game if it weren't for the fact that it uses one of my least favorite tropes, which is to have a very difficult boss battle after the final level of the game, with no save in-between.

If you want to try your hand at the game, you can check it out for free here. Look for my reviews of Momodora II, Momodora III, and Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight in the coming months.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Soundtrack of the Month: April 2016


Escape Goat 2 is a platforming game about a goat navigating a labyrinth, rescuing sheep, and trying to escape to the surface. Is this a joke? No, it's not. This is a real thing. It's a lot of fun, and the music is amazing.

Ian Stocker, the game's main developer and soundtrack composer, used to work in the mainstream game industry as a sound designer and composer. So players not only get to navigate a goat through a bunch of crazy puzzle-platformer levels, but they get to do it while listening to totally rad music.

You still think I'm joking. The joke is that I'm not. I'm dead serious.

Featured Tracks

Track 1: Restoration – Escape Goat 2 features a graphics style very different from the pixelated style of the first game. The music style gets a renovation as well, to better mach the new visuals.

Track 5: Reunion – This track is used for the game's secret levels. Yes, you are headbanging to music about a goat.

Track 8: Peaceful Sheep – Did I mention that you're trying to rescue sheep?

Track 14: Caper Erratus – The credits music of the game, and one of the greatest masterpieces I've had the pleasure of listening to. Not only is it a reprise of my favorite track from the first game, but it was also given words, sung by a choir, in Latin!

"Caper Erratus" roughly translates to "The Wandering Goat."



Purchase the Escape Goat 2 soundtrack on Bandcamp, Loudr, or iTunes.
Or listen to it for free on Spotify or YouTube.