My Favourite Video Game Soundtracks - Part 6
In this blog series, I've been delving into video game music I have discovered and enjoyed listening to so much that they have inspired my own music producing, highlighting certain songs in particular. This time, in the penultimate blog of this series (so far), we travel to ancient Greece, fight in the Peloponnesian war, face mythological creatures, and listen to some of the most grounded and authentic game music to date in the franchise.
This game has you playing as a mercenary during the Peloponnesian War in 431 BCE. For the soundtrack, Ubisoft brought on-board The Flight, a music composer duo of Joe Henson and Alex Smith, who had previously worked together on the game music for the multiplayer part of Black Flag. When listening to the two scores side by side, their unique style and authentic use of instrumentation come across clearly.
Being set in ancient Greece, the duo sought help from Mike Georgiades with the various Greek stringed musical instruments used, and, as in Black Flag's score, have used other authentic instruments that can be heard throughout, giving the video game as a whole a more grounded feeling.
'Legend Of The Eagle Bearer', the video game's main theme, is typically a strong introduction, making the most of all the instruments on offer, including some modern electric guitar, though the modern and sci-fi elements have been significantly stripped back for this installment; 'Enter The Animus' and the modern version of 'Odyssey', heard at the end of the album, being the exceptions, with heavy use of modern drums, bass, and synths. Again, as usual, the main motif heard in the main theme, on the plucked instrument, is reused throughout the soundtrack.
'Odyssey', rather than being the game's theme is, I believe, the character's theme, and is a reflection of the Greek tragedy-like story this game has and the journey you, the character, go on. The beautiful female vocals, heard in Greek (later sung in English in the modern version that plays at the end of the soundtrack), remind me of Syndicate's game music and the use of lyrical female vocals in that video game as well.
'Assassin's Creed' is yet another variation of the 'Ezio's Family' theme now confirming that, as the title suggests, this melody is seen as the franchise's theme. A progressive song, it starts calmly and builds in texture, adding female vocals, and creates an intense atmosphere before it ends.
Because this soundtrack is more real-instruments-heavy, I don't tend to find many stand-out songs that I will go back to on their own (I love my synths). What tends to happen is that I enjoy listening to most of the album in one go. I've already mentioned in previous blogs the fact that I like the more ambient and melodic songs heard in these video game soundtracks. All the exploration songs, for example, are wonderfully calm, with beautiful harmonies and melodies.
I've always enjoyed medieval music and the Greek traditions used in this soundtrack remind me a lot of secular Celtic music from the Middle Ages. I can hear this in songs from the album like 'Kephallonia Island', The Shores Of Megaris', 'Korinth', 'The Secret Land Of Apollo', 'The Hills Of Attika', 'Kydonia', 'The Sacred Land Of Artemis', with perhaps my favourite being 'Valley Of The Two Kings'. This is because of two reasons: the first is that it has a lovely vocal melody that I really enjoy listening to, and the second is that the area this is played within is quite small so you only spend a small amount of time here in comparison to everywhere else in the game's huge map of the majority of Greece.
THE FATE OF THE EXPANSIONS
Before I finish, I want to mention that, while I haven't talked about any of the scores for the post-release content added to these great video games in this blog series, the soundtrack for The Fate Of Atlantis, a three-part story expansion, was particularly enjoyable to listen to while playing. The soundtrack stepped away from the more authentic musical instruments and featured more airy synths and vocals to create an ethereal, otherworldly sound.
What is most peculiar is that this score, and that of the first expansion for Odyssey, Legacy Of The First Blade, have never been officially released, either on CD or digitally, unlike the post-release content of every other video game in this franchise (I believe). I don't even know who composed them so I can only imagine there are some sort of licensing and royalties issues that Ubisoft wants to avoid by not releasing them, which is a shame.
LET'S GO A-VIKINGR
Next time, we come to the end of this blog series (for now) and cover the most recent video game in the Assassin's Creed franchise, Valhalla, where we hear more fantastic scores from some familiar music composers.