Author: Meagan Dill (page 1 of 2)

The wacky world of Jazzpunk

jazzpunkComedy adventure game Jazzpunk is a total sensory overload. From the very start of the game, Jazzpunk’s music pulls you right into its bizarre universe. Like the game’s punchy visual style, the game’s soundtrack is a perfect fit for the off-the-wall content of the game.

Necrophone Studios (comprised of Luis Hernandez and Jess Brouse) is the masterminds behind this gem of a game. The music was composed and recorded by Luis. This was done, of course, in a totally unconventional way: he set up his own studio space, recording the soundtrack with the use of an array of vintage tape machines and homemade analogue synthesisers. In a blog on the subject, he writes, “I use this approach in an attempt to capture the feeling of old sci-fi, experimental horror, and spy movies, which used a lot of analogue synthesisers, spring reverb, and tape echo for their monsters, computers, gadgets, and sound effects. Jazzpunk takes place in an alternate reality 1950s, so I wanted to mimic the production style from that era.”

Like the game, the soundtrack has enjoyed critical success and was included in Indie Game Reviewer’s top 10 indie game music soundtracks of 2014, placing fifth. A commenter writes, “I would pay $200 for this on vinyl. Jazzpunk takes a huge departure from standard fare; it’s like Terry Gilliam exists in the gaming universe.”

This player is far from the only one who feels this way. On Steam’s Jazzpunk forum, a long-running, still-active thread is dedicated to the soundtrack, with commenters lamenting the fact that it can only be listened to during gameplay – that is, the soundtrack itself is not available for purchase at all.

Hopefully the developers will, at some stage, release the soundtrack. That way, fans worldwide can return anytime, and anywhere, to Jazzpunk’s fantastical world of espionage, cowboys, and crocodiles.

 

game audio / game music / game soundtracks

 

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The Last of Us – One Night Live

TLoU2There’s no denying that post-apocalyptic survival horror game The Last Of Us was one of 2013’s greatest gaming triumphs, both critically and commercially. Its experimental approach made giant leaps forward in the use of gaming as a medium for storytelling.  Still, the game’s gripping tale would not have been done justice without its knockout voice acting performances and compelling score.

In celebration of this, a one-night-only performance of scenes from of The Last Of Us was staged in a theatre in Santa Monica in mid-2014. At the helm was the game’s original writer and creative director, Neil Druckmann of Naughty Dog. The audience was treated to live performances of selected cut-scenes by the original voice actors: namely Troy Baker (Joel), Ashley Johnson (Ellie), Annie Wersching (Tess), Merle Dandridge (Marlene), and Hana Heyes (Sarah). Between the various scenes, songs from the game’s soundtrack were also performed live by a band led by composer Gustavo Santaolalla.

In an effort to take the performance beyond the theatre and bring it to a wider audience of gamers worldwide, Naughty Dog made the performance available free of charge as a livestream on YouTube (where it can still be viewed in full). This has been widely regarded as a good move. Unfortunately, the gesture was tarnished by the fact that the livestream was cut short for home viewers while the in-theatre audience was given an exclusive, previously unseen performance many fans would have loved to witness: a scene between Joel and Ellie which takes place many years after the conclusion of the in-game events.

Despite its conclusion leaving a slightly bitter taste in the mouth of some, the event has nevertheless given its fans something special. Perhaps more importantly, it has paved the way for other projects to make similarly experimental approaches in extending game audio beyond the game. Many would put theatre and gaming on opposite ends of the spectrum of entertainment, but this event showed that that does not necessarily have to be so. Bringing the acting and music from a game to a live audience allows gamers to experience the now-familiar material in a different context, giving it more meaning, more depth, and ultimately making it more powerful.

 

 

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Broken Age audio content close to flawless

Broken_ageFrom its humble beginnings as a crowd-funded project on Kickstarter, Broken Age has soared far beyond the heights of what anyone could have predicted or even imagined. Take, for example, this neat little fact: initially, the funding goal for the game was $400,000 but within a month the donations from backers had not only reached that but had easily surpassed it. The final total? Over $3.45 million. The big question is, do the 87,000+ people who backed the game feel their money was well-spent?

From a sound point of view, there is little that can be criticised about the game. Between its star-studded voiceover cast and its show-stopping soundtrack, there’s no doubt that the first act of Broken Age, released in 2014, has some of the most incredible sound work of any recent video game release.

The voiceover cast list reads like a roll call of some of the most talented and interesting individuals in the entertainment industry – from Hollywood actors Jack Black and Elijah Wood to legend of nerds Will Wheaton and even the creator of television’s Adventure Time, Pendleton Ward. Not to be forgotten are talented video game voiceover veterans Masasa Moyo and Jennifer Hale.

When it comes to the soundtrack, the professional and polished quality of the work is immediately clear. One would expect nothing less of the composer at the helm, Peter McConnell, who since the 1990s has composed for nearly 50 video games, including the likes of Grim Fandango, Escape From Monkey Island, and a plethora of Star Wars titles. Here, he has delivered a soundtrack that feels nothing short of grand and cinematic. This larger-than-life sound is in no small part due to the live performance given by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.

As you progress through the game, it’s impossible not to become completely wrapped up in the atmosphere of the world created by the team behind Broken Age. From a sound perspective, the work done on this game is truly close to perfection.

 

 

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