As a video game soundtrack enthusiast, I find that the best soundtracks not only fit the setting of their games entirely, but also are surprising. Nowadays, it is easy to hire the orchestra by the hour if you want a quick and dirty soundtrack to shove in the background of your game. But games like Bastion manage to stand out by providing a soundtrack that both melds into the action and is jarring when juxtaposed against the game’s genre, action RPG. Both natural and electronic soundscapes set the tone of this gorgeous and fun game.
All the music and sound effects were created by Darren Korb, a mutton-chopped master of his art, so it would seem. In addition to these lofty credits, he also recorded all the voices for the game and even sang on one of the character themes. Gathering another singer, Ashley Barrett, their voices were melded together for the final theme to the game, “Setting Sail, Coming Home.”
It is also worth bringing some focus to “Build That Wall.” Talk about jarring juxtaposition. While you’re playing the game and destroying enemies to one of the tunes of this awesome soundtrack, the music begins to fade, and you hear Barrett crooning quietly in the background. Getting closer to Zia, the Ura Singer, increases the volume of the track, which can only be described as haunting. You are still responsible for killing enemies and navigating the maze-like terrain as you try to get closer to Zia, but you have this beautiful track to guide you there.
Moving on to the fantastic instrumentals, one that fits the gauntlets you face is “Mine, Windbag, Mine.” It starts off with the realistic sound of a hammer striking an anvil repeatedly, which becomes the grounded beat for the song to build upon. In little time, the strings kick in with an inspirational melody that sounds most like surmounting a great challenge. Just like the gameplay, though, it never leads to a false sense of security. Each time it builds up, it drops back down, leaving danger lurking around the corner.
My favorite track is “The Bottom Feeders.” I like intensity, and it delivers. It starts off with an almost innocuous plucked string melody, but quickly, industrial noises swoop in, bringing a sanding or grinding sound that hooks the song in your brain. Meanwhile, there is a repeated digital riff, which is only truly showcased the first time the industrial sounds cut out, but indicates the nervousness of peering over to the next piecemeal area of the level. What really grounds this delightful trauma at the forefront of my attention is the snake charmer’s flute, which alarms the listener at the end of every other set of four beats. It’s almost like a pleasant headache, but you should listen to understand why.
Finally, it is worth bringing attention to the bombastic song used for the launch trailer to the game, “From Wharf to Wilds.” Set with strong percussion right out of the gate, the alert strings work to highlight the images flashed at the would-be player. It’s a quick ditty but a notable one, and the guitar strumming in the background pairs with Logan Cunningham’s narrations (Rucks) quite fittingly.
You can check out the remaining sexy guitar-backed and electronica-infused tracks on the full soundtrack, available at the Supergiant Games store. Also, for the awesome price of nothing, if you play guitar or piano, they also offer the free sheet music.