When I travel outside of New York City (games typically sell at terrible rates over here), I often have a big event where me and whoever I’m out of state with raid video game stores that sell old games for cheap prices (NES carts for like 2 bucks for example). No joke, I usually come out with like 15 – 20 games and a bill of 100 bucks or less — not bad at all.
It was during one of these raids that I picked up Blood Omen : Legacy of Kain, first in a series that I’ve heard much about, but never had time to play. I decided to play through the entire game one day, a feat for those accustomed to the relatively short loading screens of today. You had to load for everything : screen changes, access to menus, loading the memory card window so you can save, fuck I hated it at first, but then I settled into the atmosphere and great music provided by the game.
Essentially a Zelda type adventure in a darker universe, Kain can learn attack spells, transformation abilities and even use a decent arsenal of weapons. There is a lot of blood flying around the screen because drinking blood functions as healing for Kain. Some of the themes and environments encountered are just plain creepy, and I always feel bad drinking the blood of those poor guys and girls chained up on the walls just so I might make survive a couple more rooms. But enough reminiscing about the game, I’m here to talk music.
I gotta admit, Kain can be an asshole, but not without reason. I would probably be a dick to everyone too if I got jumped and brutally murdered within minutes of starting my adventure too. This track playing in the wilderness outside Kain’s crypt uses a more exotic instrumentation for a medieval style forest. A staple in the fantasy game genre, here the forest seems a lot more distant and unwelcoming. It’s also pretty relaxing too, so this track works out on multiple levels.
Speaking of unwelcome and distant, here’s an example of music that would probably not get your local church many followers. Though I must admit, toward the end, the bells have a really cool rhythm going on. Avernus’ Cathedral is also overwhelmingly large from the outside, definitely one of the more intimidating locations you visit during the adventure.
Even the obligatory sad song manages to sound creepy at the same time. It does a great job representing the grim fate of the only real kingdom with able soldiers to fight against the much larger enemy horde (ultimately a suicide mission). Like the rest of this game’s soundtrack, you’ll hear a lot of church like bells and other shared instruments in common. In that sense the soundtrack has a sort of cohesion, best summed up with my favorite track in the game :
A little bit sad, a little relaxing, uses those church bells like a champ, this track ties everything together. Playing out like a slow march, the opening section focuses on that low choir sound accompanied by the bells. The march section proper adds the obvious drumming, along with a thrice repeating phrase, the third time leading into the big cadence and the small concluding segment. One thing I would also like to point out is how the lightning sound is treated as part of the music rather than as randomly occurring sound effects (something they should have done with a certain Tactics Ogre track and a feature they tend to use in Soul Reaver which I’m currently playing for Review
in Progress 7).
Enjoy the music, and I really recommend checking the game out if you haven’t played. It’s the only entry in the series to be developed by Silicon Knights, and has a unique flavor both as its own game and first of a series.