Gothic 4 -Arcania- Original Soundtrack
Gothic 4 -Arcania- Original Soundtrack
October 12, 2010
Buy at Sonic Senses
Arcania: Gothic 4 is the latest game in the Gothic series of fantasy action RPGs, but was not exactly a direct sequel: it was created by a different developer to previous instalments, featured a new protagonist and location, and offered considerably dumbed down gameplay. The musical score for the game was also different from Gothic 3, created by Tilman Sillescu and three others at Dynamedion, rather than Kai Rosenkranz. Nevertheless, the team continued to focus on fantasy orchestrations to portray the protagonist’s journey, while maintaining and sometimes exceeding the production values of its predecessor. The soundtrack album was available in certain collector’s editions of the game and can also be purchased either physically or digitally through Dynamedion’s Sonic Senses score. Let’s take a closer look…
The world and soundtrack of Arcania: Gothic 4 is introduced with Tilman Sillescu’s “Main Theme”. The composer portrays the game’s world in a suitably brutal and archaic way with a focus on epic chorus and brass. However, he retains a melodic focus throughout to draw listeners in and portray the heroism of the protagonist. Additional depth to the theme is given with a spiritual interlude, highlighting the soprano voice of Conny Kollet, before the melody is reprised in an even more impressive form at the climax. Exceeding even the music for Gothic 3 before it, the sound is fully realised through a balanced and polished performance by full orchestra and chorus. Indeed, despite conveying arcane times, the music still succeeds in being cutting-edge technologically and accessible to modern listeners.
The long journey of the hero is explored in a range of other fantasy orchestrations. “Arrival in Feshyr” portrays the game’s colourful scenery and dramatic protagonist with a rich ever-evolving string orchestration, while hinting at the tragedy and betrayal that will unfold. “In the Village” is a suitably understated portrayal of the hero’s utopian hometown, focusing almost entirely on a harp, while “The Tavern” is another typical fantasy score emphasising folksy string instruments. Better suited for stand-alone listening is “Stewark City Theme”, which captures an expansive environment within an ancient world with its mixture of orchestral and traditional instruments. Though such compositions won’t win awards for originality, they are likely exactly what was requested by the developers to convey the medieval fantasy world in a familiar way. What’s more, these compositions prove among the upper echelon of their kind in terms of their compositional maturity and production values.
As with most other RPGs, the music of Arcania: Gothic 4 is central for portraying the environments of the game in a rich and iconic way. Several tracks, including “The Swamplands”, “Lost in the Wilds”, and “Tooshoo Theme”, capture the more organic scenery in the game with features such as ethnic percussion rhythms, evocative woodwind infusions, or celestial choral backing. Once again, these compositions tend to be subtle in their construction and development so that they seamlessly integrate in the background. They are still enjoyable for stand-alone listening, but considerably less impressive than those on Risen due to their shorter playtimes. Other environs such as “The Forgotten Temple”, “The Valley of Blood”, and “The Monastery” focus on conveying the corruption of the world with soundscapes of a much darker kind and are somewhat more impacting on a stand-alone level. It’s particularly fascinating how Sillescu still regularly integrates the score’s main theme into these compositions to capture the protagonist’s determination and heroism.
Complementing the setting themes are a solid set of action themes. “A Storm is Coming” once again describes the hero’s bravery against tremendous foes, with the string melodies of the secondary section vanquishing the more malicious elements opening the composition. Sillescu maintains a strong rhythmical drive throughout with ferocious percussion elements and edgy basso ostinatos. The outcome of the combat accompanied by “War Drums” is less certain, with antagonistic forces such as heavy percussion and bass clarinet proving overwhelming, perhaps at the sacrifice of stand-alone enjoyment. Later in the score, the demented vocals of the more cinematic “Xeshas Theme” does an excellent job of conveying impending danger, while the soaring brass-based reprise of the main theme in “Xardas Tower” proves motivating in such a formidable location. At the end of the soundtrack, “A Hero Returns” and “Credits” recapitulate the main theme to convey victory. The elevated brass-based orchestration and beautiful female vocals of the latter are particularly effective in bringing closure to the dramatic journey.
Dynamedion has once again done a wonderful job in scoring a fitting accompaniment to the world of Arcania: Gothic 4 while staying true to the genre. The music is definitely professional in its production and detailed in its definition each aspect of the game, from cinematics to environments to scenery. As a stand-alone listen, a lot of the music is too modest or derivative to be especially enjoyable. However, the soundtrack still takes listeners on quite an emotional journey and there are some outstanding individual highlights, particularly the main theme and its major arrangements. It’s clear that Dynamedion were limited by in-game constraints when scoring this title — due to the requirements to create typical fantasy orchestrations and suitably unobtrusive background music — so the score doesn’t quite exceed the likes of BattleForge or The Settlers: Path to a Kingdom. Nevertheless, this soundtrack will be a worthwhile purchase for fantasy score enthusiasts, either with the collector’s edition of the game or through Dynamedion’s online store.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Harris Iqbal. Last modified on August 1, 2012.