July game OST roundup
Welcome to another game soundtrack roundup, friends! Can you believe how strong the games continue to be this year? 2016 seems to be a never-ending cornucopia of excellent titles, and there are still five months to go! Our collective cups runneth over with games both big and small.
For my part, I can’t wrap my head around the fact that we’re still getting excellent soundtracks at the same rate--the tunes gush forth from the internet like a firehose of acoustic joy, and it’s almost impossible to keep up! So please, allow me to bring you up to speed.
One of the month’s best soundtracks dropped right at the beginning, when The Game Bakers released boss-heavy sword-swinger Furi. Furi’s soundtrack features electronica artists from around the world: Carpenter Brut from France, Waveshaper from Sweden, Lorn from the U.S., and several others. Though the game’s intense difficulty and laser-focus on boss fights seem to make it a love-it-or-hate-it affair, if you’re a fan of electronic music with plenty of synths, Furi’s OST is a must-listen. Here’s a sample:
Also released at the beginning of the month was Playdead’s long-awaited follow-up to Limbo, Inside. I haven’t actually played Inside yet, but I’ve fastidiously avoided reading anything about it because the only two things I’ve heard about it are that 1) it’s superb and haunting and 2) one should fastidiously avoid reading anything about it before playing it.
As a service to you, the reader, I have sought out a sample from the game’s soundtrack despite the fact that an official release is still forthcoming.
Spooky, eh? We can almost certainly expect a proper release at some point, so if you’re hungry for it keep an eye on the official page of composer Martin Stig Andersen, or go have a listen to the score for Limbo.
July’s winner for most incomprehensible title goes to 7th Dragon III: Code VFD, which is actually the fourth 7th Dragon game (though the first to be released in the U.S.). It seems like the game is a solid JRPG, though it’s not knocking anyone’s socks off. The soundtrack, however, is by the one and only Yuzo Koshiro! Have a listen to this battle theme--if you tilt your head just right, you can hear echoes of Koshiro’s work on Streets of Rage:
The soundtrack’s almost certainly not going to see a western release (I’m not even sure where you can currently import it), but someone’s assembled a YouTube playlist if you’d like to sample some more.
One of the things I like best about writing these roundups is that occasionally a game will come along that is rather poorly received but nevertheless has a very worthwhile soundtrack. This month, that game is Necropolis, a rogue-like about which our own Steven Strom had trouble finding positive things to say. Necropolis’s electronic score is by composer Jon Everist, who’s also responsible for the music from the expansions to Shadowrun Returns. Here’s a taste of Everist’s work:
Next up we have something with a completely different sonic profile: Adrian Talens’s all-acoustic soundtrack to bridge-building game Poly Bridge, which is just the most relaxing album I’ve heard all year. I hadn’t heard or seen anything about the game before rounding up this month’s soundtracks, which is a bummer, because in a year like 2016 I feel like everybody would benefit from a little bridge-building and a lot of acoustic guitar therapy. I encourage everyone to put this album on repeat anytime they are feeling stress or existential dread, which again is probably every single day for most of us.
Isn’t that nice? Don’t you feel better? If you want to go listen to the rest of the album over on Talens’s Bandcamp page in a different tab and just keep this roundup open for later, I won’t blame you. I’ll be right here waiting. (This one is also available on Spotify! What a good month for that!)
About midway through the month, Insomniac Games released Song of the Deep, their underwater Metroidvania that was published by Gamestop’s in-house label “Gametrust.” The score is done by Jonathan Wandag, who has a short playlist with some samples up on his YouTube channel. Here’s the main theme:
Unfortunately, the only way to get the full soundtrack at the moment is as Steam DLC.
The middle of the month also gave us minimalist sports game Videoball, which might appeal to you if you spent a lot of time with Sportsfriends or if you liked the aesthetic of May’s Soft Body. The soundtrack for Videoball is peppy and arcadey, conjuring pleasant memories of 16-bit OSTs.
This is another one that’s up on Spotify! If you want to purchase it, you can head right over to the Bandcamp page of composer Ken Snyder, who goes by “coda.” This music is guaranteed to increase your enjoyment of sports by at least 40%.
The newest Monster Hunter game came out this month! I haven’t played it, but I’d bet good money that Monster Hunter Generations is better than Star Trek Generations and Sonic Generations put together. The MonHun games aren’t typically known for their music, but I had a listen to this soundtrack via a YouTube playlist and found it thoroughly enjoyable. Here’s a sample of one of the many, many battle themes it contains:
Toward the end of the month, Square Enix released I Am Setsuna, the self-styled heir to Chrono Trigger’s design philosophy. In his review, Rowan Kaiser seemed to think that I Am Setsuna both reminds us why Chrono Trigger is so brilliant while also showing why that brilliance is hard to replicate. Nevertheless, the game’s piano-heavy soundtrack (by composer Tomoki Miyoshi) is definitely worth listening to, even if it can’t touch Yasunori Mitsuda’s timeless score for Chrono Trigger:
Square Enix has also done us the service of making I Am Setsuna’s OST widely available: You can pick it up on iTunes, listen to it on Spotify, or even get a physical copy on CD straight from the Square Enix store.
This week saw the release of Double Fine’s Headlander, certainly the weirdest Metroidvania in a very long time. Composer David Gregory Earl wrote up a lovely post about his musical influences (including Vangelis and Brian Eno) on the official PlayStation blog, and you can take a look at what our own Danielle Riendeau thought of it here.
Unfortunately, at the moment the only way to pick up the soundtrack is as Steam DLC, but there are at least some rumblings that it’ll get a vinyl release before too long (and really, given the game’s groovy aesthetic, wouldn’t that be the best possible way to listen to it?). In the meantime, check out this goofy music video that Double Fine posted on their YouTube channel:
Also: Yes, Kentucky Route Zero Act IV dropped this month. No, there’s been no word on a soundtrack release as of yet. I’m going to sit at my computer repeatedly mashing the F5 button on composer Ben Babbitt’s Bandcamp page until I have more news to report on this front.
The last bit of news I have for you this month is that the full soundtrack to Mirror’s Edge Catalyst--the actual score, by electronica artist Solar Fields--was recently released, and it is a whopping 5+ hours in length. If you need a lot of high-quality ambient electronica, you should get on this post-haste. It’s up on iTunes, Amazon, and Spotify.
In fact, because half a dozen different OSTs were released on Spotify this month, I went ahead and assembled a comprehensive playlist, in case you’d like to put it on in the background while you work on a ten-hour-long project. I am, as always, your faithful servant in such matters.
That’s all for July! Check back at the end of August--we’re likely to see soundtrack releases for Abzu, No Man’s Sky, and the new Deus Ex, along with our usual handful of surprises. In the meantime, happy listening!