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Soundtrack review: Far Cry Primal (Jason Graves – 2016)

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“Far Cry Primal” is an action-adventure video game developed and published by Ubisoft. It was released for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on February 23, 2016, and it was also released for Microsoft Windows on March 1, 2016. The game is set in 10,000 BCE during the beginning of the Mesolithic. It takes place in the fictional Oros valley in Central Europe, an open world filled with different types of flora and fauna. Unlike previous games, there is prehistoric wildlife such as mammoths, dire wolves, cave bear, cave lions, woolly rhinos, irish elk and saber-toothed cats along with modern creatures like brown bears, badgers, and deer. Survival is a daily challenge as tribes come into conflict with one another and nature. Players take on the role of a Wenja tribesman named Takkar (Elias Toufexis),who is stranded in Oros with no weapons after his hunting party is ambushed. Takkar, using his newfound skill of taming animals, will eventually rise to power and lead his own tribe. Jason Graves wrote the score.

More so than in the case of movie, the music for a game has to be focused on creating an atmosphere to match the story. The success of a computer game depends on the experience the gamer has, from visuals and gameplay to, yes, music. If when you watch a movie you can only imagine being part of it, with the game you are the character, you walk and live in that world, you have to interact with it so the music must be part of that experience. Game music needs to be very immersive and addictive to work and Jason Graves knows that. “Far Cry primal” takes place in 10000 BC and what better way to show that than through raw voices, rough percussion and woodwind instruments. From the opening cue “The shaman’s story” you know where you are: in the middle of the very dangerous nature. The instruments make me think of wood and stone and everything sounds raw and tribal. I love to get immersed in this world, I feel like a naked hunter prowling the plains, running from dangerous creatures and after other dangerous creatures. I feel like an integral part of the food chain when I listen to this score. I get shivers as the wild and primeval cries of “The fires of conquest” scare me. The bone percussion in cues like “The call of the Windu” or “A hunter’s eye” or the trance like mood of “The flames of Suxli” hypnotize me and drags me deeper into the mystical and mysterious world of the game.

Other dangers might lay for you though in this score especially if you don’t enjoy brutal percussion as much as I do. This score is a percussion delight, addictive and hypnotic and the constant battle between drums wild cries and animal noises will make you wonder if you’ve actually travelled back in time. I cannot get enough of this kind of music and I often found myself turning the volume way up. If you want to hear how those times sounded, look no further. No historians could provide a better recreation of 10000 BC than Jason Graves did here. Exceptional score, do not miss it.

Cue rating: 100 / 100
Total minutes of excellence: 118 / 118
Album excellence: 100%

Highlights:
The Shaman’s Story

Save the Wenja
Prowl of the Snowblood Wolves
The Fires of Conquest
The Mammoth Hunt
The Call of the Widu
A Hunter’s Eye
The Heart of Oros
Sarta Wenja
Trials of the Gwarpati
The Taken Wenja
Vision of Fire
Batari’s Song of Fire
The Bloodfang Sabretooth
Gwarpati Salway
The Search for Lost Wenja
Vision of Beasts
March of the Bloodtusk Mammoth
Survival of the Udam
The Lost Caves of Oros
Udam Wantari
Wadijam Izila
Hunt for the Great Scar Bear
The Flames of Suxli
Clash of the Udam
The Altar of Suxli
Fury of the Great Scar Bear
Attack of the Udam
The Beast Master Strikes
Vision of Ice
The Wrath of Ull
The Mask of Krati
Takkar of the Wenja

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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