game score

Soundtrack review: Assassin’s Creed Unity – Dead Kings (Cris Velasco – 2015)

“Assassin’s Creed Unity” is the seventh installment in the famous game series. I’ve already reviewed volumes 1 and 2 with mixed feelings.  “Dead kings” is a downloadable content for this game and is set in Paris again, in the catacombs beneath Saint Denis from what I understand. Composer Cris Velasco wrote the score. I haven’t played the game so I must imagine how the music would fit.

“Dead kings” opens with the very dark “The Marquis”. I can see this cue working in a game. The atmosphere is tense and ominous and I would be inclined to stay alert during this adventure. From my experience a game score shouldn’t be very imposing, it shouldn’t get in the way of the playing experience. It should all be about the atmosphere and enhancing that experience.

“Welcome to Saint Denis” and “Basilica” are lighter cues and I easily go past them. They are tense but stay in the background. I keep waiting for “Enter the catacomb” to take off but it remains just a suspenseful base for something. Again I imagine that if I were playing the game this would really work. It would invite me in and I would perceive it like part of the game. I close my eyes and realize that this cue is actually guiding me through something.

“Memories of Elise” displays the first true emotions of “Dead Kings”. The instrumentation is still dark but this time the darkness comes from within, not from the surrounding catacombs as it did until now. After this track the score returns to its ominous mood. If I play the music loud enough it gets more enjoyable. “Now that’s a weapon” is the most exciting track of the score so far. It’s a wake up call and things are definitely happening. It has the pace of a great chase scene cue.

The final track “Hidden temple” brings the choir and I missed this in “Assassin’s Creed Unity : Dead kings”. Where has this track been until now? I wanted more of this. The melodic emotion, the choir, the bells and the beautiful feeling of fulfillment it gives me make this score worth while. It’s like the big revelation that makes you forget the bumps in the road at the end of a long journey.

The journey of “Assassin’s Creed Unity: Dead kings” isn’t that long, it’s only 23 minutes. Still with that gorgeous final track this left more inside me than the other two ACU scores I heard at the end of last year. Game music taken out of the context of the game loses some of it’s enjoyment factor and I imagine it’s a tough call for a composer: serve the game 100% and maybe sacrifice the standalone listening experience or go all in and maybe make the game difficult to play? I will ask Cris Velasco this when I will talk to him…

Cue rating: 69 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 2 / 23

Album excellence: 7%

Highlight:

Hidden temple

About the author

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment