All The Best Game Music Is On SoundCloud

musicft

[divider]

You know this probably sounds like a self explanatory title, but if you haven’t ever heard of SoundCloud it is a streaming music site that is used by a lot of unsigned bands and DJ’s/Composers to showcase their talents. Those can be original songs, remixes, podcasts and anything in between.

But it’s also home to a lot of excellent and beautiful music from our beloved video games. Many developers have released songs to stream on the site and Playstation also have a great load of game music on their page as well. In fact, you can find a lot of publishers, developers and composers who have released their game music on SoundCloud. No longer are iTunes or Spotify the only places you can find these gems of video game composition. So just to be a bit of debate starter I’m going to list some of the favourites that I’ve found, my personal highlights if you will, and if you have anymore then please link them and share.

[divider]

Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture promised many things and it has delivered on them so far. One of these things was a beautiful soundtrack. Composed by Jessica Curry and James Morgan, Dust and Shadow is just one of the haunting choral and orchestral melodies that you will here in the game.

[divider]

Max Payne’s dark, disturbing and melancholic theme is one thing that has stuck throughout the series. There is a great communication in the soundtrack to a game sometimes that perfectly portrays the world and character. This version of the cello theme from Max Payne 3’s composers HEALTH is one of the most haunting versions.

[divider]

Ok so this is a bit of a cop out but it is on there and I challenge you to find a better game that so brilliantly uses the leitmotif in this theme and throughout game. Gustavo Santaolalla is a magnificent composer and, like all good entertainment, his score is one vital part of a great big experience.

[divider]

I’ve put this here because it is a wonderful score in general. The darkness of Mordor and the lore that precedes the green prettiness of JRR Tolkein’s Hobbit and Lord of the Rings is here in abundance. It is also is co-composed by Nathan Grigg and Garry Schyman, the latter name you might know from the Bioshock series.

[divider]

Long live Tangerine Dream. Edgar Froese’s music is one of the great things that glues Grand Theft Auto together. His electronic progressive rock that mixed with experimental soundscapes gave us an excellent connection between three otherwise distant and different characters. Whilst the music featured on Grand Theft Auto is some of the best popular music in recent years, the music OF Grand Theft Auto is also some of the best composed music.

[divider]

Here we go on a bit of a love letter to Devolver Digital, but we said in our review of Titan Souls that one of the things that really binds the feeling of loneliness in the game is the music, expertly composed by David Fenn. The inspirations behind this are easily recalled which is a testament to how well the music has captured the genre and respected those that came before it.

[divider]

Are you kidding me? Of course we’re going to have some Hotline Miami on here. In fact the entire soundtrack to the first game is available on Devolver’s page and is perfect for a Friday afternoon countdown to the weekend.

There are some great selections from Hotline Miami 2 as well. These two are my personal favourites but you should definitely look them up yourself.

[divider]

Here’s a more fantasy based game with The Witcher 3. Polish composer Marcin Przybylowicz’s soundtrack (featuring Percival) is a brilliant achievement and as many of the games journalists on the internet will testify to, a great part of an even greater game. You’ll also find some select cuts from The Witcher 2’s soundtrack on his page as well.

[divider]

I make no bones about the fact that the Halo soundtracks are some of my favourites. I’ve waxed lyrical about the Halo 3: ODST soundtrack in the past. But if you asked me to choose one song from it all, it would be Unforgotten, or as the rerecorded Halo 2 Anniversary edition version is named “Unforgotten Memories”. It is a wonderful theme that repeats itself throughout the second and third games, along with the inspired change of tact from the more well known gregorian monk chanting. But for good measure I’ve included that below along with some riffing guitar too.

[divider]

[author]

Advertisements

Titan Souls – Review

tspft

[divider]

We covered the mechanics of Titan Souls and the history of its conception in our preview back in March. At that point, we were able to play the introductory levels and get a feel for the art style in the game, the simplicity in its controls and also a great sense of the inspirations behind it. This was also the demo that was released to play so you have all probably played it by now.

A brief reminder, Titan Souls is an independent game by new studio Acidnerve, a collection of three programmers who rose to the challenge Ludum Dare game jam with the theme “You Only Get One.” As such both you, and the bosses have only one hit. You must attack and kill a series of different bosses across the world using your one and only weapon – A bow and arrow. Keeping with the theme, you only get one arrow, which can be magically recalled back to you or you can pick it up. One you’ve tackled a Titan, you earn his soul through some awesome floating spirit absorption.

tsr2Now I’ve played the whole thing, I’ve accrued over 200 deaths in the mission to collect all of the Titan Souls and there are things I love and things that frustrate me. But firstly, a few disclaimers:

Whilst I possess a working knowledge of games like Shadow of the Colossus, I haven’t actually played the game. The game will of course feel like Shadow of the Colossus at times because it’s inspired by it, but I cannot make those connections like other reviews have. I was also playing this on a Mac with a PS4 controller. There were also things that irritated me that I couldn’t put my finger on until I saw a YouTuber play it and nail exactly what I was thinking so credit will be due.

We’ve covered the control method quite extensively in that there are three controls that all work very well and are suitably challenging to the boss battles. I have to say that the PS4 controller feels pretty natural but I also kept using different buttons for my arrow because I could. I’d have quite like a singular trigger button for the arrow so I always knew where it was. But that’s probably more due to my calamitous fingers failing to hold the PS4 pad between multiple deaths.

Death is something that obviously occurs often and as such, re-spawning also occurs often but rather frustratingly distant from the battle you just had. This is something that YouTuber PyroPuncher pointed out in his playthrough and I completely agree. The sizes of the areas are pretty huge and it can take a while to get back to the boss. I mean, yes it’s only about 10-20 seconds but when you are in the zone and building up a rhythm of playing and fighting, even that gap can remove you from it.

tsr3

The size of the world is something that I’m a tiny bit critical of. I love it for reasons that I will come on to but sometimes it can be quite empty and long especially if you’ve already explored and want to have a change of pace between areas. It can take a long time and sometimes the world feels like it could have done with a little more refinement. There are some gorgeous chasms and excellent abandoned ruins littered across the lands but sometimes you do get to bits with repetitive rock textures and you just wonder what else would have looked really cool there. With that you then get the issue of the lack of direction. Nothing is telling you what to do or where to go. This is, for me, an excellent thing for such a small game because you end up discovering things as if you were discovering them in reality. But I know that some people would have loved a map, or a little arrow pointing you in a general area and that so much unfettered freedom can irk gamers that just want to get on with it.

On the flip side, the massive world does two things: 1) It looks absolutely beautiful. Titan Souls have five areas or biomes if you will. You have your beginning ancient civilization ruin, you then get a fantastically expansive plaza of that civilization, with a few buildings still standing for Titan’s but everywhere else succumbed to entropy and overgrowth. You have a firey chasm, an underworld of lava and volcanic rock, which also seems to have been conquered by the previous occupants. You have a mystical forest that is bent on confusing your sense of direction and you have my favourite, the magnificent snow biome with glaciers, big snow boulders, bridges over gaping chasms and the occasional torch flame that burns longer than the life that used it. All of this is beautifully realised in the 16-bit art style and, save using photorealism and AAA RPG graphics, it is the prefect style for the game and for the atheistic it conveys. We’ve mentioned the links to Pokemon, Zelda and others in our preview and it does take inspiration from all the best parts of those franchise’s world designs.

2) It is chillingly empty. Games like this are exquisitely designed in a conservative way. It’s not minimalist or lazy but it is purposefully and effectively constructed to evoke the sense of lonliness. It is stark to the point of melancholy, reflecting those that have died before you in their attempt to take the souls and that have left nothing. There are points that, as I’ve said, could be refined to make the gameplay a little bit more of a smoother experience but overall it projects the immortality that guards the world exactly for what it is… A curse.

One thing that really helps this lonliness is the music, which is quite simply wonderful. It is strict in its usage, hyping up for battles with added distorted guitar and rhythmic beats. But for the rest of the map it can be very stark but evocative when it hits. A gust of wind blows and a sad flute melody plays. It reminds me a lot of some of the more solitary moments of The Wind Waker, but it is gorgeous with its Asian inspired sounds and instruments. I highly recommend that you check out Devolver Digital’s SoundCloud page anyway but you’ll find some of Titan Souls music there.

tsr1

Then there are the Titans themselves. Some range from the incredibly to the absolutely crazy. They all have proper names, unlike the “Heart-Glob” I dubbed previously, but they also have a very unique personality. Everything from the Treasure Chest that is “Avarice – The Manifestation of Greed” to the rolling ball of lava that is “Rol-Qayin – The Forged Creation of Gol-Qayin” is beautifully realised and enjoyably independent of other Titans in looks and strategy. Yes you’ll get annoyed with many deaths but that does not dampen the enjoyment.

However, you get the feeling that something isn’t right with what you are doing. It isn’t anywhere near what Shadow of the Colossus does in the destruction of beauty but there is something that feels like a trap. Like theses were all once adventurers like yourself and you’re killing something ancient and beautiful. There is one particular Titan that I didn’t want to kill. It is not often that games do this but this certain part of the game made me very sad. Not to the level of sad that I got when Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons began to reach its climax but it made me question everything I was doing in the game and why.

This to me is the greatest achievement of Titan Souls because it has absolutely no right to make you feel that way. There’s no story laid on for you to discover. You only get the indecipherable text for each Titan. You don’t know the reason why your character is doing it. But you don’t really care because its an independent game without the big budget, it looks quaint and it doesn’t cost a lot so it’ll be a challenging little thing to play. Then the game hits you like that and you realise that whilst this was originally a game made overnight by three incredibly talented individuals, it definitely transcends its origin story to become a very personal game to you.

[tabs]

[tab title =”Summary”]

Titan Souls is an amazing product of a few things that make gaming great. It has that wonderful element of fantasy and interactive quality that no other medium can give in making you feel alone in a big dangerous world. It showcases what talent this country has in programming and what people can do in such a small amount of time. But mostly, it is an enjoyable game with simple controls and an interesting challenge to players and people like me who overthink about things.

[/tab]

[tab title =”Good Points”]

– Wonderful bosses with excellent unique designs/personalities

– Gripping musical cues and brilliant atmosphere

– The art and world design is expertly crafted to be evocative

[/tab]

[tab title =”Bad Points”]

– Distances between bosses and repsawning points can be a bit long

– World is sometimes too big, especially if you’re exploring.

– Lack of direction may frustrate some.

[/tab]

[tab title =”Why an 8?”]

I rate any game that can cut through my steely hardened shell of emotion that 31 years of being alive, being a gamer and being a creative person who is unafraid to share his work, has built up. The game is a beautifully solitary experience that provides enough of a challenge despite its simple premise and controls, its music is perfect for the art style and the loneliness the game brings to your character and there is a point that it cut through me right to the little bit of phantom sad muscle just above your diaphragm. It may be a bit hard for some but its so easily accessible and endearing, so stick with it.

[/tab]

[/tabs]

[divider]

[author]

Titan Souls – Hands On Preview

tspft

[divider]

Titan Souls is a very interesting game by three man team Acid Nerve and is being published by Devolver Digital. What started originally as a game jam project between friends has grown up somewhat and will make its debut on PC, PS Vita and PS4 in April. The premise is simple. Boss battles. The game is a series of boss battles against you, your spritey little adventurer. There’s the added bonus that you don’t have to do much either as all of the bosses have one hit point/health point. So one shot and they are dead! Excellent.

["No Salesmen Please"... Phew!]

[“No Salesmen Please”… Phew!]

The problem with this is that you only have one hit point too. So one shot and you’re dead, although you respawn outside the boss battle room to try again. It’s made slightly harder by the fact you only have one weapon, an arrow. You can charge up your shot to fire from distance and POW! Except you only have the one arrow so you have to go and get it back or press the recall button to magically pull it back to you.

The art of boss battles is one thing that hasn’t been lost in gaming. By that I mean that, unless you play everything on such an easy level you could accidentally sneeze and hit the shoot button in something’s face, you have to study, learn and adapt to beat a boss within a game. It’s one of the things that stories are made of, how you defeated the boss, how you did it differently, how quick you did it. Boss battles are a narrative part of the gaming experience.

Titan Souls is no different. Each boss is unique and you have to adapt your approach for each one. For example, a boss with a heart in a load of slime globules will divide into more globules and that makes for a tricky area to move around in. Some bosses need to have a bit of puzzle solving applied before you strike. It’s these little nuances in boss battles that makes Titan Souls quite enjoyable.

["Follow me, I'll take you back to your FarCry 4 DLC!"]

[“Follow me, I’ll take you back to your FarCry 4 DLC!”]

One hit point and one shot may sound masochistic but the sense of achievement for beating a boss in that way is a very rewarding feeling. It’s made even better when you’ve worked out a plan and pulled it off. Or even if you surprise yourself, like I did, by accidentally killing a boss with the arrow as it was being recalled and the boss was in the line of sight. And from this you’ll absorb that bosses soul, much in the way video game characters have absorbed spinning etherial particles and exploded ever since the movie Highlander’s Connor MacLeod said “There can be only one!”*

*Disclaimer: Sean may or may not have said this rather loudly while playing.

Titan Souls is also very well put together visually. The 16-bit inspired RPG look is pretty but also uncluttered. It doesn’t detract at all from the game, the battles or anything, yet it’s atheistically pleasing. You might feel it’s more of a Pokemon style look rather than an old top down RPG one, but the actual surroundings feel more like a Lara Croft-eqsue forgotten temple to these behemoth bosses. Vines and waterfalls over stone and tribal architecture, along with murals and ‘open sesame’ doors.

The bosses as well are all incredibly individual and look great, really putting the imagination to work in the artistic approach of the game. I faced the aforementioned Heart-Glob (if it doesn’t have a name yet then I’m coining that one), a laser cube that’s adorned like the Hellraiser puzzle box and a frozen pink thing stuck in a seemingly impenetrable ice cube. There’s 18 in all and you don’t need to kill all of them to complete the game so you can approach it however you want. The best thing is that you can’t even predict the bosses when you first play. They are all so different in look, style and attack that there’s a certain excitement at what you’re going to find next.

[The Return of Audrey II]

[The Return of Audrey II]

It’s a game that has a simple premise and a simple look (which is actually very hard to pull off). The gameplay itself is challenging and something that makes you think about how you approach a situation or a battle. Not just in the tactical sense but also how you react to your plan going south, as all plans normally do. It will certainly be one of those games where you have to beat everything just to feel like you’ve accomplished something, especially as it’s a game that’s happy to kill you repeatedly for your troubles.

The PS4 and PS Vita is getting this game along with PC but it has to be said that it really does suit the controller with its simple aim, shoot and dodge mechanics. It puts itself very nicely in to your hands. It may not keep you busy for a long time, but it has a lovely look, and an interesting charm to the idea of boss battles. It kind of makes you a little nostalgic to the way boss battles used to be in platform games, and how rewarding they were before a singular omnipresent antagonist. Enjoy it when it comes as it’s a nice example of a gaming staple being given a new and interesting life.

[divider]

[divider]

[author]