Game Music Bundle 4 (Various Artists)

Cover

The Game Music Bundle folks are dedicated to releasing discount selections of (often obscure) video game soundtracks for the enthusiast market. Largely hailing from indie games outside the scope of anything that would get a major album release or CD pressing, and often by newer composers eager to make their mark on the industry, the Bundle offers digital downloads of multiple albums across two price tiers, often with unlockable bonus albums. Donating a minimum of $1 unlocks one tier, while a minimum of $10 unlocks the other, with a suggested donation of, fittingly, $13.37; bonus albums are unlocked as the donations become more generous over time.

These capsule reviews are provided to help anyone who might be wavering in their decision to purchase and support the musicians and projects involved. The window to buy is very limited and while many of the soundtracks are available on iTunes, Bandcamp, and elsewhere…some are exclusives that will never be available again!

This particular Game Music Bundle is no longer available, but many of the individual albums are; I have provided purchase links where appropriate. Go here to be notified of future releases!

Albums

Horn Original Soundtrack (Austin Wintory)
Wintory is probably best known for his thatgamecompany work alongside Vincent Diamante. Given how neat Journey was, this seemed like an easy home run. Sadly, it’s kind of a whiff: lots of very sparse, dark, medieval stuff without a lot of melody; the more atmospheric tracks are vaguely Journey-like but not nearly as good. It might appeal to fans of dark medieval moods, but isn’t my cup of tea as a stand-alone listen.
Rating: * *
Purchase

Squids Wild West (Romain Gauthier)
I really enjoyed the last Squids, which had a bubbly melodic charm that was utterly infectious. This sequel has an odd wild west feel compared to the more genre-neutral first game, but with lots of great melodies the juxstaposition somehow works. While there are quirky and fun tracks, a lot of the music (nearly three times as long as the original) is surprisingly, and deliciously, dark.
Rating: * * * * *
Purchase

Puzzlejuice Original Soundtrack (Big Giant Circles)
I already listened to this on Bandcamp prior to the bundle, and probably would have bought it full price before. It’s bright melodic synth poppy stuff from the guy who did some of the best parts of Mass Effect 2 (and whose absence from its sequel was keenly felt). Short and sweet highlight of the bundle.
Rating: * * * * *
Purchase

Globulous Original Soundtrack (zircon and Jeff Ball)
Andrew Aversa, AKA zircon, is one of my favorite indie game composers (though with some of his tracks in Soul Calibur V, one has to wonder how well the indie label sticks these days!). The three tracks where he and Jeff Ball, who I’m not familiar with, directly collaborated are fantastic highlights, especially “Dawn Oblique,” even if the rest of the album and their solo tunes are occasionally a bit lacking in comparison.
Rating: * * * *
Purchase

Organ Trail Director’s Cut OST (Ben Crossbones)
A version of Oregon Trail that replaces oxen with zombies? I was sold on the game’s concept instantly. To its credit the music mostly sounds like something that your old 2nd grade class’s Apple IIgs could spit out, but the music is really dour and really sparse, and kind of hard to sit through unless you’re a fanatic for C64-style synths.
Rating: * *
Purchase

Aliens Incursion Original Soundtrack (elmobo)
el mobo has been at it since the earliest days of VGM, and his Bandcamp page is equal parts treasure and trip down memory lane, and even the newer titles are an exercise in great music for obscure and sometimes awful games. I wouldn’t say this is his best stuff, but there’s synthy techno and some of his gift for melody to be had.
Rating: * * *
Purchase

Wyv and Keep Original Soundtrack (Luke Thomas)
This was one of those “soundtrack’s done but game isn’t” things you sometimes see on Bandcamp at the time of its release, though the game has since been completed. Most of it is percussive synthy jungle music that probably does well as background but translates into a pretty blasé listen. A few tracks like “Mysterious Hat Seller” do lift it up somewhat though.
Rating: * *
Purchase

Flight of Angels: Splice OST (Dain Saint)
A game about splicing DNA with angel track names? Okay, sure. This takes the flOw/echochrome route of having quiet vaguely classical vaguely ambient music for a puzzler. Sounds kind of like Philip Glass, which means most will probably love it or hate it. I loved it; the heavenly, ambient sound is able to overcome the limits of its synths to be a wonderful, relaxing listen.
Rating: * * * *
Purchase

Mecho Wars HD Original Soundtrack (Sean Beeson)
I stumbled on Sean’s website a while back and I’m now a big fan. He reminds me of a younger, hungrier Jeremy Soule who writes moving, wistful stuff without resting on his laurels quite so much. This is exactly that: fans of Soule will eat it up.
Rating: * * * *
Purchase

Polymer Original Soundtrack (Whitaker Trebella)
What’s up with so many indie games being named after material types? Regardless, there are some nice sounds and beats here but the music falls into the trap of too much repetition without much variation, so when the music if over you feel like you’ve heard it 50 times instead of just once.
Rating: * *
Purchase

iBlast Moki 2 Original Soundtrack (Romain Gauthier)
Another fine Gauthier songtrack. It’s solid stuff, mostly pastoral and relaxing with some quirk here and there, but pound for pound I prefer Squids (in musical terms if not at the dinner table).
Rating: * * *
Purchase

Super Hexagon EP (Chipzel)
The first “bonus album” unlocked by people buying stuff. Probably closer to the actual kind of techno you’d hear in clubs than anything I offhandedly label “techno” in passing despite (or perhaps because of) that 8-bit sheen. Each of the three tracks starts out kind of uninvolving but gets better later on as more layers are added, but it’s probably really only for big fans of this sort of thing.
Rating: * * *
Purchase

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