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Soundtrack review: Beyond: two souls (Lorne Balfe – 2016)

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“Beyond: two souls” is the kind of score I will never forget.

“Beyond: Two Souls” is an interactive drama action-adventure video game for the PlayStation 3 home video game console, created by French game developer Quantic Dream and published by Sony Computer Entertainment. It was released in October of 2013. The game features Jodie Holmes, one of two player characters. The other is an incorporeal entity named Aiden: a separate soul linked to Jodie since birth. Jodie, who is portrayed by actress Ellen Page, possesses supernatural powers through her psychic link to Aiden, growing from adolescence to adulthood while learning to control Aiden and the powers they share. Willem Dafoe co-stars as Nathan Dawkins, a researcher in the Department of Paranormal Activity and Jodie’s surrogate-father-figure. The actors in the game worked during the year-long project in Quantic Dream’s Paris studio to perform on-set voice acting and motion capture acting. The score was composed by Lorne Balfe.

I know it’s Lorne and I shouldn’t be surprised anymore but even by his standards a theme like “Jodie’s suite” is exceptional. In the past couple of years there have been some unbelievably beautiful game scores and all of them featured at least one stunning female vocal theme that left me with goose bumps. This epic opening is no different and from the epic and spectacular instrumental delight which makes me think of Klaus Badelt’s “The promise” with almost Asian influences to the angelic voice vocalizing in the background, I could stop this score right after this first cue and consider it a winner.  Consider me already on the same side as our heroine.

The theme for her father figure is dominated by a haunting string section that just breaks my heart and makes me care for the character. What makes the feeling even more poignant is the idea that I won’t just be a spectator in this; I could get involved and help these characters because this is a game and I am controlling them. Careful Lorne, you might make me care too much.

The game mood really settles in when I hear “Beyond”. A gorgeous atmospheric soundscape, deep and addictive adds a new layer between me and the real world. This cue couldn’t’ have a more appropriate title. I recognize the atmosphere that worked so well in his “Terminator Genisys” score from last year. “Aiden’s theme” is yet another stunner to add to Lorne’s huge list of memorable themes. Aiden is an incorporeal entity, a soul with supernatural powers and I go from intrigued through hypnotized to frightened when I hear his theme.

As the score progresses joy fills me up as I realized I am listening to an even better sequel to one of my favorite scores of 2015. What worked so well in “Terminator” goes beyond and I can’t wait to play this game and experience the music in context. The cues touch me, move me, affect me and I hide myself in this thick and dark musical forest not caring about the danger, looking for that angelic voice and embracing every moment of my experience.

With dark action pieces, eerie music box cues like “My imaginary friend”, deep emotional moments and standing on pillars made of perfect themes for each character, “Beyond: two souls” is the kind of score I will never forget. If this one will leave my top 10 of 2016 it means we will have an incredible year for film and game music. Lorne Balfe has crafted his own special edgy sound for emotional darkness and I am addicted to it.

Cue rating: 100 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 44 / 44

Album excellence: 100 / 100

Highlights:

01 Jodie’s Suite

02 Dawkin’s Suite

03 Beyond

04 Aiden’s Theme

05 The Experiment

06 My Imaginary Friend

07 Childhood Memories

08 Homeless Life

09 The Party Revenge

10 Hunted

11 Treason

12 Norah

13 Lost Cause

14 Black Sun

15 Jodie’s Story

16 The Infraworld

 

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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