As a follow up from my sound track article, I thought I’d talk a little about a game that came into my possession on steam a little while ago when when I bought the Indie Humble Bundle 5. For those who don’t know, the Indie Humble Bundle is a distribution site for indipendently produced games, the gimmick being that you pay what you want for the offered selection of games. This means that if you have the funds, you can aid independent games production, give to charity, feel warm and fuzzy for being generous; or if you are a penniless student, tight-fisted or generally just mean, you can purchase several generally high-quality, innvoative games for a pithy pittance of pennies.
The game that I bought the game ‘Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP’. It’s very indie-styled game, all 8-bit graphics and self-consciously quirky humour and story. the gameplay is simple and ouzzle-based, not strikingly challenging but entertaining, but it really shines in another aspect; you guessed it, it’s the music. (I’m a music blogger, I’m allowed to be narrow minded.) Only now am I coming to play this game – thanks to the previous four bundles – and I have to say, it is pretty damn good, purely because of the music.
Now, this is hardly incidental, as the title suggests – it’s an EP. The game is built on the music, a record forms the basis of the symbology, and the soundtrack changes with the players actions much more intuitively and less noticeably than the average game. For example, now bear with me, at one point you had to advance by rubbing a dim rainbow with your mouse until it held its colour. Sounds odd, and I had no idea what I was doing, and so a couple of times I started along the right track, but didn’t carry on enough to finish the puzzle. The soundtrack swelled as I was rubbing away, and then faded back itnto the previous ambience when I stopped, imperceptibly. When I did work out what I was supposed to do, it swelled past that point into an unmistakeably climax, achieving the idea of a level-up *ding* in a much more sophisticated, and actually satisfying manner.
Although it quite do justice to how well music is integrated into the game, the sound-track is available on youtube (legally or not, I have no idea, probably not), and is well worth a listen in its own right. The music, as professed in the opening screen of the game, was composed (note, not just written) by an artist called Jim Guthrie, whose music I will most definitely be delving headlong into.
This is precisely the sort of reason why I carry on buying the humble bundle, and keeping in touch with the development of games, because every so often, you come across a real gem, like this one. It is a game built on sound – it’s hard to describe why this works so well without just telling you to play the game (which, of course, I strongly suggest), but it just feels… organic. This is the first time playing a game where I have truly believed the sound-track to be a part of the game, reflecting its style, its process, its experience. Sure, a lot of games have a good sound track, but often you are all too aware of its function – to increase tension, to unnerve you, to shout HELLS YEAH when you shoot someone – and to some extent it always feels a little too… functional. But not here. Uh-uh. And that, my friends, is wonderful.
Hats off to you Jim Guthrie.