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Soundtrack review: Minecraft – Chinese mythology edition (Gareth Coker – 2016)

Game scores

Soundtrack review: Minecraft – Chinese mythology edition (Gareth Coker – 2016)

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Minecraft is a sandbox video game originally created by Swedish game designer Markus “Notch” Persson, and later fully developed and published by Mojang. The creative and building aspects of Minecraft enable players to build constructions out of textured cubes in a 3D procedurally generated world. Other activities in the game include exploration, resource gathering, crafting, and combat. The “Chinese mythology edition” offers a new world to explore, fresh creatures to encounter, dangerous monsters to battle, and a host of skins and music choices. The main attraction is acolossal pre-built environment full of castles,  enormous sculptures, and hidden secrets. Gareth Coker, one of my favourite game score composers, wrote the music. I’m always in for Asian inspired game scores (the bar is set very high by Neal Acree’s “Revelation”).

The score opens with “Xuanzang” and it’s everything I was hoping  for: sensitive, melodic, sweet and epically inspiring in the same time. The playful use of Chinese instruments brings a lot of pleasant images in my mind and I try to pick my favourite one…is it the large army marching in the dust of the willow bent over a lake? Maybe the traditional attire? I don’t know but the point is this opening cue flies me to that land and I’m ready for the journey.

The happiness continues with the next cue and how couldn’t it when the name of the peace is “Perpetual peace”; there’s such joy in the music and it instantly transfers to me. I hear nothing but good and wishes of well in the music and having visited China I can tell you that the composer did everything right to capture the mood of the most beautiful stories from that place.

Once we know the land and start to love it’s time to get involved in battles to protect it as the music gets more menacing and serious without losing its appeal. The gentle touch of the music is protected even in the more alert pieces. Gareth Coker knows exactly how far to take his music as not to interfere with game play and not distract the player from his purpose there. It’s a very delicate balance but when I listen to this score I can imagine myself playing the game and enjoying the music as another element of the lore of “Minecraft”.

A cue like “Mountains of infinite longevity” is something I could take with me anywhere to use when I felt the need to relax   or find inner peace. Meditation music has got nothing on this cue and I just close my eyes and let it wash over me. The gentle caress of the strings and the slow piano feel like the warmest and most welcomed of rains. Same with “Hanging monastery”; I’ve always been fascinated with that place and imagined a lot of things about it and the music fits with all of them. There’s this peacefulness that just calms down whatever storm might be inside.

I enjoyed “Chinese mythology edition” even more than “Greek mythology edition” and I am looking forward to the score for the third expansion.

Cue rating: 88 / 100
Total minutes of excellence: 30 / 55
Album excellence: 55%
Highlights:
Xuanzang
Chang’an – Perpetual Peace (Overworld)
Tianxi Mountains (Overworld)
Mountains of Infinite Longevity (Overworld)
Hanging Monastery (Overworld)
Sha Wujing (Battle)
Terracotta Army (The End)
Mount Huaguo (Overworld)
Danxia Rainbow Mountains (Overworld)

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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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