Samorost 3 Cosmic Box

Samorost 3’s physical version brings the game’s world closer to you

It’s only right that sci-fi point-and-clicker Samorost 3 gets a physical version. It’s a game that emphasizes tactility through its biological textures: from the gnarled knots of a planet made of tree bark to the soft sprigs of moss on one of its greener planets. The “Samorost 3 Cosmic Box” addresses this absence by giving you things you can hold in your hand alongside your purchase of the game. Available now for $50, the Cosmic Box’s cloth-covered box has been partly hand-made (the rest handled by machines) in the Czech Republic. This is where the game’s creators at Amanita Design live,…


Music of the Urban Commute: Designing Mini Metro’s Soundtrack

A year ago, when Rich Vreeland (aka Disasterpeace) said that the work on his score for Mini Metro (2015) would be around 90 percent coding, not many knew what he meant. At the time, the only insight he shared was that the results of his work would create procedural audio for the subway system management simulator. When Mini Metro was released with what Vreeland calls an “almost meditative” score, it had a different feel to it than I had expected. The pressure and anxiety that comes with the city-building genre, as experienced in games like SimCity (1989), were minimized by…


The mad science behind Inside’s soundtrack

Without giving anything away, there are definitely some freaky experiments going on in Inside, the latest game from Danish studio Playdead. At times, these experiments are depicted through the game’s eye-popping stagecraft, but in other instances, players take the helm as experimenters, tinkering with switches, valves, and other, squishier, things to puzzle out solutions in a manner that would make Dr. Jekyll proud. Inside’s music composer and sound designer, Martin Stig Andersen, conducted his own unorthodox experiments to create the game’s unsettling soundscape. More interesting than the bizarre nature of Andersen’s experiments, though, is why he conducted them and what…


The fierce independence of the No Man’s Sky soundtrack

Samizdat—literally “I self publish” in its native Russian—is a term that buzzes with connective meaning. First used by the poet Nikolai Glazkov, it describes the banned political essays, literature, music, and poetry that were circulated by makeshift independent presses in the Eastern Bloc. A response to the extreme censorship of foreign and dissident works during the 1950s and 60s, samizdat publications were emblematic of a fierce spirit of independence, produced through unlikely means. Carbon-copied verse, hand-typed novels, even bone records cut from old X-rays, were distributed by hand, passed from trusted friend to trusted friend, to be read or listened…


Deep Space is a soundtrack to a videogame that doesn’t exist

Bad news: Deep Space is a game you will never play. It doesn’t exist except as an implication. It’s the invented backstory for a new record by Joel Williams (also of Wavves-affiliated acts Sweet Valley and Spirit Club). Under the name Kynan, Williams wrote the soundtrack to an imaginary game, which he describes as a “surreal shoot-em-up” in the vein of 1986’s Fantasy Zone. In the end—presumably around track 17, “Self Inflicted Wound Game Over”—you end up destroying the planet in your efforts to eradicate “mutated demon aliens.” The lead track, “Deep Impact,” throbs with huge clanging beats and plaintive synth arpeggios. “Contamination” has grainy washes of sound that…


Where Did The Fun Street Fighter Music Go?

My anticipation for the recently released Street Fighter V probably came from a different place than most people. I’ve only ever really followed the series as an observer who watches tournament matches, and as a listener of the games’ soundtracks. For me, then, Street Fighter V’s release held two possibilities: new tournament material after eight years of Street Fighter IV (2008) and its iterations, and new music. Whatever you think of the mechanical changes and viability of certain characters, Street Fighter V is sure to offer a lot of the former for passive appreciators like myself. As far as the…


Halo composer is making a “musical prequel” to his next big game

“It needs to be ancient, epic, and mysterious.” These were Marty O’Donnell’s only instructions from Joseph Staten, who’d asked him to write the music that would accompany Halo’s (2001) unveiling at Macworld four days later on July 21, 1999. The melody that resulted from Staten’s minimalist direction, and O’Donnell’s clever use of Gregorian chant, has since become synonymous with the Halo franchise. Rolling Stone named the score for Halo: Combat Evolved the Best Original Soundtrack of 2001. Then, in May 2005, BusinessWeek reported that the first volume of the soundtrack for its sequel, Halo 2 (2004), had sold upwards of 90,000 copies and landed at number 162 on the…

Resident Evil Remake

The desolate mansion of Resident Evil

Resident Evil, released in 1996 for PlayStation 1, is hilarious—it’s so funny. The voice acting is ridiculous, the plot is sensational and the live-action cutscenes look like they’ve come from a porn parody film. In fact, that’s Resident Evil in a nutshell: from the campy character and costume design through the cheap music and sound effects, Resident Evil feels like a high-end fuck film, only without any fucking. Look at Jill. Look at Chris. Look at BARRY. This is a cast of actors straight out of a Brock Landers movie. Resident Evil has become the beloved low watermark of videogame production value, but designers…

Adi Holzer Werksverzeichnis 899 Satchmo (Louis Armstrong)

Digital Soloists: Jazz and the videogame score

Rain gently pours outside the window. The detective crosses the room, bottle and glass in hand, and sits on the couch. He stares at the portrait of a beautiful woman. She’s the victim of the crime he’s investigating. A sense of mysterious infatuation permeates the room, emphasized by David Raksin’s score for Laura (1944). The famous apartment scene, a classic of 1940’s film noir, could only achieve its status with the help of music. Laura’s main theme is appreciated not just for its functional aspect in the film, but for its quality as a well-written tune on its own terms.…