Child of Light Original Soundtrack
Child of Light Original Soundtrack
Dare to Care Records
April 29, 2014
Download at Bandcamp
Ubisoft Montreal’s game Child of Light was released in April to generally positive reviews. While a relatively brief and simple game, Child of Light is beautifully drawn and touches on deeper and universal themes: coming of age, loneliness and companionship, family, strength in times of hardship. Like many other indie games, from Journey to The Unfinished Swan, Child of Light is created to be enjoyed, not completed; it’s a short game, but one that’s more about the journey than the destination. The game begins in 19th century Austria with one Princess Aurora, who is transported to another magical land of darkness and tasked with bringing back the light. The game was scored by Coeur de Pirate (aka Béatrice Martin), a French Canadian pop artist new to video game scores. The resulting music is different from what you might expect on a regular game soundtrack, but then again Child of Light isn’t a typical game.
The soundtrack begins with “Pilgrims on a Long Journey,” the music of the main menu. “Pilgrims” begins with a gentle piano motif – not quite a melody – that swells and grows as it continues. The piece becomes more ornamented and speeds up, backed by gentle strings and eventually a solo cello as the melody leaps an octave up. This minimalist pattern, vaguely reminiscent of Amelie composer Yann Tiersen is indicative of many of the tracks in the game. The following track, “Aurora’s Theme,” follows almost the exact same structure, but instead of a series of variations on a single flurry of notes, this track features a soft melody in piano, flute, and piano which returns several times throughout the game. Like “Pilgrims,” the motif repeats often with varying degrees of dynamics and accompaniment. “Magna’s Heart,” the third track on the album, is my personal favorite, again following the same pattern (with a motif wavering somewhere between four aesthetically pleasing chords and a ridiculously simple melody) but featuring a key change as part of the main motif. Upon listening to the soundtrack a few times, I realized that “Magna’s Heart” actually uses the same chordal structure as “Aurora’s Theme,” bringing the two tracks together very well changing the setting enough so they do seem different.
The battle tracks change up the pattern; “Jupiter’s Lightning” begins with a refreshing burst of percussion and maintains an upbeat rhythm in the strings and brass sections. It does have piano (I’m not sure there is a single track in the entire game without piano) but with “Jupiter’s Lightning,” it fades to the background to let other instruments of the Bratislava Symphony take over. While this track isn’t my favorite, it certainly changes the pace of the soundtrack. “Dark Creatures” is another such track that, while not quite as rhythmically driven, certainly adds a new flavor to the soundtrack by bringing in some low strings and woodwinds to present a melody that runs along a minor scale. In the context of the game, the melody is practically menacing; out of context, it’s exciting and rather pretty. That said, my favorite battle track is “Metal Gleamed in the Twilight,” a fast-paced multi-stylistic piece sporting a fast-paced, all-string, four-measure melody with some snare drum for rhythm, and drawn-out background horns to create a counter-melody (and piano, of course). Almost two minutes into the piece, the instruments suddenly change to feature a swing-style rhythm with trumpets and trombones taking over the melody, now in all dotted notes, leaving the strings to hold out tonic notes several octaves up.
One disappointment was that there is a lot of music featured in the game, particularly some nice choral pieces, that are nowhere to be found on the album. I would be interested in an extended soundtrack if it was ever released. I will also add that, while the battle themes do break up the tracks, the majority of the score is very similar for most of the album; if soft, enchanting piano doesn’t do anything for you, then you’re not going to find many redeeming qualities in this score. I don’t find it monotonous, partially because of the battle themes and partially because of the number of variations on the otherwise simple themes, but in terms of instrumentation, the majority of the score is about piano and a secondary solo instrument.
Coeur de Pirate is primarily known for her singer-songwriting abilities, which shine through in this soundtrack. However, she only actually sings in the final track, “Off to Sleep,” which serves as the end credit music. The piece is a beautiful example of her skill, both vocally and as a pianist; but after hearing the rest of the soundtrack, I am glad Coeur de Pirate kept this track for last. I enjoyed the unique nature of the soundtrack to Child of Light very much, and while this served as a nice closing to the game, the instrumental music used in the rest of the score fit the gameplay of Child of Light very well. One more track worthy of a mention is the “Hymn of Light,” the last instrumental track on the album. “Hymn” adopts a continuous march rhythm with a stately string-and-horn melody that is both hopeful and melancholy. It’s certainly the most fully developed melody in the soundtrack, and it is well-composed, functioning as a piece independent to the rest of the soundtrack yet still fitting in with the themes and harmonies in the rest of the game.
I was very happy to discover the Child of Light game and soundtrack. As a pianist, I am always excited to see piano being used in scores, and Coeur de Pirate incorporates it well, creating a delicate, fantastical atmosphere with poignancy and warmth, meshing with the stained glass and watercolor art of the game. Out of the game, it’s peaceful, relaxing, and soothing. I enjoy the music too much to have any qualms about the repetition in the score; this is one of those albums that is just varied enough — and short enough — to be listened through in a single sitting, captivated throughout all of it. That said, I will certainly be hoping for the complete score to be released in the near future. The soundtrack is available as both a physical release and a digital release through Bandcamp now. Highly recommended.
Do you agree with the review and score? Let us know in the comments below!
Posted on June 10, 2014 by Emily McMillan. Last modified on June 10, 2014.