game score

Soundtrack review: Bloodborne (various artists – 2015)

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“Bloodborne” is the latest Role Playing Game from the Japanese developers who brought the famous “Dark souls” series. The presentations of the game advises you to “face your fears as you search for answers in the ancient city of Yharnam, now cursed with a strange endemic illness spreading through the streets like wildfire. Danger, death and madness lurk around every corner of this dark and horrific world, and you must discover its darkest secrets in order to survive”. The score was written by a team of composers including Yuka Kitamura, Tsukasa Saitoh, Nobuyoshi Suzuki as well as guest composers including Ryan Amon and Michael Wandmacher. So far this release had been limited to Play Station owners as it was only available in the PS Store. Luckily it will get the release it deserves.

Ryan Amon is credited with most of the cues on this release and the opening “Omen” takes me and throws me in a deep, dark abyss. I guess we needed an introduction like this, dark and brutal, to know what we’re in for. The menacing strings, the haunting and deceiving choir and the relentless crushing pace of this piece make a statement and tell me all I need to know about “Blooborne”. I am definitely in.

Game music is a special kind of beast. Composers need to first and foremost serve the gaming experience. Their music must be the shroud that hides the gamer from the outside world and helps him focus only on the immersive experience of the game. So when a game score also makes for a fulfilling standalone listen it’s a most welcomed gift. The producers went all in with “Bloodborne” and the score was recorded with a 65 piece orchestra and a 32 piece choir. All this excellence is heard from the beginning. I can sense the atmospheric point of the music but its taste and appeal is so strong that I don’t care about playing the game. I want to know where the cello takes me, I want to hear what the choir tells me and I want to embrace this beautiful darkness. I listen to “Hunter’s dream” and remember all the magical game scores I’ve heard in the past year. This cue is right up there with the best of them. It’s haunting and dreamy, quiet and intense. This hunter must be a very interesting character because once his dream is over his proper theme takes over and it’s epic and thunderous.

Ryan Amon takes a break then and it’s the turn of the Japanese composers to tug at our internal resorts. To scare us more precisely, as “Clerical beast” does from its first seconds. Growling sounds, epic gothic choirs, point made. It seems Tsukasa Saitoh is in charge with the scariest moments of the score. I like this variation; I enjoy the dance between these scary cues and the more complex, ambient and quieter ones that Amon writes. This duality makes the score smart and interesting. There are many shades of darkness and danger must not be part of all of them. “Moonlit melody” reminds me of the sweet fantasy of “The Elder Scrolls Online”.

Every composer brings something to the dark bouquet of sounds this score offers us. Sometimes the music growls, other times it enchants while some moments are there to make the listener dream even. Each cue is complex and has many layers that demand more than one listen to fully grasp. Michel Wandmacher’s cues (“The witch of Hemwick” and “Micolash, nighmare host”) play like dreams where you don’t know what to think or what’s real and what’s not. The piano plays tricks on our minds while the choirs throw a veil of fog to cause even more deception.

You don’t have to be a fan of the game to enjoy this score. I’ve never played ‘Bloodborne” so my thoughts are solely based on the music. This is the kind of game music that will stand the taste of time: thick, dense, rewarding. I really enjoyed it and I will listen to it again because I sure I might have missed some twists.

Cue rating: 93 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 51 / 71

Album excellence: 71%

Highlights:

Omen

The Night Unfurls

Hunter’s Dream

The Hunter

Cleric Beast

Watchers

Darkbeast

Rom, The Vacuous Spider

Moonlit Melody

Micolash, Nightmare Host

Celestial Emissary

Ebrietas, Daughter Of The Cosmos

The First Hunter

Moon Presence

Bloodborne

 

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).

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