Music, so they say, is the language of the soul and so it goes that we use music to enhance our enjoyment of a game with tracks that complement the emotions and memories the game makers want to create. In this little list, I thought I’d share a few top class scores to a few games you may have missed. Let’s get started:
#1 Wizardry: Knight of Diamonds
During the early days of the RPG genre Dungeon crawlers were king, standing at the top of these early adventures however was the Iconic series Wizardry. With its wire frame graphics and punishing gameplay Wizardry set the foundations for later RPG juggernauts such as Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest. Later ports of the game and its sequels along would feature updated graphics and soundtracks allowing it to stand alongside many of the great RPG’s of the 8 bit era and it is the Famicom port of the 1982 sequel Wizardry: Knight of Diamonds that has earned this series place on my list.
Though short and sweet like most soundtracks of its era Kentarō Haneda’s lovingly crafted compositions helped bring life to Wizardry’s dark and twisting corridors with some of his greatest work appearing in Knight of Diamonds.
Some of the stand out tracks include the Opening and Llylgamyn Castle themes respectively. The opening theme sets the tone of a world filled with adventure, wetting the players tastebuds for the journey ahead whilst the foreboding and ominous tones of the Castle themes opening bars expertly convey the hopelessness and despair the citizens of Llylgamyn Castle feel in the wake of their King’s death. Deep and expressive Wizardry: Knight of Diamonds is worth playing for the soundtrack alone, excellent gameplay aside.
#2 Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem
This ambitious action adventure game holds the auspicious title of being the first Mature rated to be directly published by nintendo for their consoles. Set around a Rhode island mansion and a journal left by the protagonists grandfather within, Eternal Darkness takes players on a journey across time encountering powerful artifacts, ancient spirits and lovecraftian undead gods all the while fighting to maintain their sanity.
The soundtrack to Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem encompasses a variety of cultural and musical stylings including Egyptian instrumentals, Western Choral vocals and contemporary instrumentals. Combined they weave an aural tapestry as engaging as the the game’s story itself.
#3 The .Hack Quartet
Released during the height of the Playstations 2’s success in the early 2000’s this series of 4 Hack and Slash RPGs flew under the radar of most western gamers despite achieving moderate success in Japan. Released as a sequel to the 2002 Anime .Hack//Sign alongside a 4 Part OVA the games centred around the fictional MMORPG known as “The World” and the series of bizarre incidents that left several of the games players in a coma. Though the game dated unfavorably and the plot has now become cliche thanks to subsequent series such as Log Horizon and Sword Art Online, the soundtrack of the .Hack Quartet stands the test of time.
With an expansive and eclectic soundtrack described as “techno meets opera” composers Chikayo Fukuda, Seizo Nakata, and Norikatsu Fukuda provided a solid background to a futuristic, familiar and at times surreal world. Tracks such as the theme for “Hidden Forbidden Holy Ground” along with the theme for the first game’s final boss Skeith are an absolute must for fans of the RPG genre.
Far from its heyday in the 1980’s and 90’s the point and click genre now finds itself as an increasingly niche product, in spite of this however the genre continues to produce an outstanding assortment of high quality games, least of which is the 2009 hand drawn adventure Machinarium. Telling the story of a small robot named Josef and his discovery of a plan to blow up the city’s tower the game consists of entirely zero dialogue with the player and NPC’s conversing through the use of small images contained in speech bubbles.
Alongside its unique artstyle and notably novel gameplay is an ethereal and atmospheric digital soundtrack composed by Czech musician Tomas Dvorak, also known as Floex. Making use of both synthetic and acoustic elements in its construction the soundtrack contains an Operetta (Clockwise Operetta) alongside both Jazz and contemporary digital tracks making for an unlikely combination.
Got any favourite soundtracks of your own? Let us know in the comments below or Tweet us @PlayNicePlayNow.
Chris Senz is a freelance journalist and contributor to PN2.