Terraria is a side-scrolling, action-adventure, sandbox indie game created by Re-Logic, and with a soundtrack composed by Scott Lloyd Shelly.
Terraria is sometimes described as a 2D version of Minecraft but there are enough unique aspects for the two games to stand apart. Behind the pixel-style art is a surprisingly deep RPG. The gameplay involves exploring, mining, crafting, building and boss fights. The procedurally generated world is full of loot, monsters and bosses such as the Eye of Cthulhu and Eater of worlds. Dig down to find precious items that can be used to take on tougher enemies.
Terraria has over 30 tracks, each designed specifically to suit certain levels. Airy ambient sounds drift along as you explore the magical surface land then the pulse increases as the action heats up and you take on hordes of creatures that spew forth from the dark depths. In an interview with cheerfulghost.com, Shelly explains that, “A) this is a 2D game, with a retro-ish 80’s style pixelated look – and b) potentially huge (and magical) worlds are getting created, so maybe some big orchestral sounds can be created as well. I was pretty much trying to create a hybrid of those two elements that would hopefully become unique to the game.”
Shelly’s audio concept comes to fruition in Terraria’s soundtrack. Anyone who was a part of the gaming world during the 80’s and 90’s will be sure to feel a great wave of nostalgia while playing Terraria, and anyone who is prone to states of emotional reminiscence of their younger days are warned to proceed with caution. Nothing beats a game that can marry a soundtrack with its gameplay and Scott Lloyd Shelly really hits the nail on the head with Terraria.
Shelly created his own audio company, Resonance Array, in 2003.
Dear Esther is a unique game in many ways and the audio experience of the game is no exception. From music to the voice to environmental sound, Dear Esther is close to perfect.
The game takes place on an unnamed deserted Hebridean island. The island itself is just the beginning of the mystery, which is at the heart of the game. The player traverses the landscape and gradually triggers various voiceovers of an unnamed male protagonist (voiced flawlessly by Nigel Carrington). The particular voiceover triggered at each point is selected from a relevant subset at random by the game during each playthrough. This adds yet more complexity to the density of meaning and myriad of possible conclusions the player might come to regarding the events transpiring before and during the game.
Composer Jessica Curry’s sublime orchestrations are truly a defining feature in Dear Esther. Indeed, since some music was composed at the very beginning of game development it is no stretch to say that the environment and the music are literally made for one another. The soundtrack is a mesmerising mix of heady orchestral elements that makes occasional use of the human voice as an instrument, too. The result is an atmosphere that toes the ever blurrier line between heavenly and uncanny as the game progresses.
The natural environment of the island is extremely windy and this is commonly a noticeable attribute in the game’s audio. However, rather than detracting from the experience, the sound of the aggressive wind only emphasises the emotional content of the game. Similarly, the echoes of the waterfalls and rivers found in the caves further on in the game emphasise the desolate quality of not only of the landscape, but of the very soul of our unnamed protagonist as the voiceovers become increasingly affected by his emotional, mental, and physical deterioration.
While the game’s landscape is undeniably visually stunning in its decay, it is truly the sound elements that make the experience of Dear Esther one to remember. It is these elements that portray so profoundly the strongest point of the game: its emotional impact.
Ubisoft understands the importance of a good soundtrack, and have made an example of this for part 4 of the Far Cry series. Farcry 4 owes much of its audio prominence to composer and former Red Hot Chili Peppers member Cliff Martinez who had an integral role in the composition of the OST.
The characteristic tribal feel of the Farcry series returns in Far Cry 4 with the addition of traditional Asian instrumentation including the Himalayan tabla, Tibetan singing bowls, bells and flutes. Anyone who has played Naughty Dog’s, Uncharted 3 will hear distinct similarities between the two soundtracks coupled with a near identical Himalayan setting. As it is not his first involvement with game audio composition, Martinez appears to be making great impressions in the gaming world and may have more to offer as of yet.