Capcom's Dark Void released late last month to a less-than-stellar reception. The game’s official soundtrack album drops on Tuesday of next week and, hopefully, the lukewarm reviews the game received won’t overshadow the fact that this is a fantastic set of music, including a very unique gem of a bonus track. Even if this game isn’t registering a blip on your radar, you really should take in its sounds.
Dark Void is the videogame soundtrack debut of Bear McCreary. Yes, Battlestar Galactica fans, the same Bear McCreary who scored the music for your beloved show as well as the horror film Wrong Turn 2. As such, you would expect to get an epic set of music for a game with the outward promise of Dark Void. And indeed, you do get it. The nearly 80 minute soundtrack album features some of the most exciting and original sounding compositions for a video game you may hear this year. The over-arching melody of the game’s theme makes numerous appearances throughout the album, which is something that you don’t hear often enough in game music.
That repeating melody reminds me ever so slightly of Elmer Bernstein’s theme for Taarna from the 1981 animated cult-classic, Heavy Metal, as does the use of an Ondes Martenot instrument (again, as used in Heavy Metal as well as Ghostbusters and There Will Be Blood). The blending of orchestra, electronic and rock instrumentation combine perfectly to create the music’s unique feeling and is truly one of the better examples of combining so many genres of sound into one cohesive composition. The electric bass lines added in just the right amounts were an inspired choice by McCreary, and expertly performed by former Oingo Boingo four-stringer, John Avila.
The album itself is the latest in a growing line of listening experiences from Sumthing Else Music Works, and is by far one of the best examples of a game’s score rendered into album form. The sequencing and pacing is spot on and McCreary’s music is so well done that you never have to have touched the game for which it was written to enjoy listening to it. Kudos goes to whoever decided to create a set of liner notes for the physical release that rivals many other similar albums. Full credits, photos, thanks and a multi-page story on the creativity that went into creating the music for Dark Void make for an enjoyable read (for those of us who still appreciate such things!).
The last cut on the album is perhaps the most fun thing here, and hopefully it doesn’t over shadow the rest of the music. The “Mega Version” of the Dark Void theme is an 8-bit rendering of the game’s title cut that is done so well, you would swear it came from an actual classic release. My understanding is this piece actually helped inspire the creation of the DSiWare release of Dark Void Zero. If you are a fan of the sounds of the 8-bit era (or 8-Bit Weapon for that matter!) you will love this. For some, this short piece will be worth the price of admission alone. The de-evolution of this piece is done so well, that it should almost become a requirement for all future game soundtracks to do something similar with their theme songs.
Despite the reviews the game received, the incredible quality of the music of Dark Void has actually made me much more interested in trying out the game. This, despite the ludicrous number of AAA titles currently out and due out soon (coughBioShock2cough). Instead of telling you who I think this album is for and type casting those who “might” enjoy it, I will instead say that if you have even a passing fandom for game music, you should love the music of Dark Void. It has already earned heavy rotation status amongst my personal listening. The album releases this Tuesday, the 9th and will be available in both physical and download form.