Crypt of the Necrodancer Soundtrack

Crypt of the Necrodancer Album Title:
Crypt of the Necrodancer Soundtrack
Record Label:
Bandcamp
Catalog No.:
N/A
Release Date:
April 21, 2015
Purchase:
Download at Bandcamp

Overview

This game is amazing!  On paper it sounds like a disaster, a fast paced rogue like dungeon crawler that’s also a rhythmic action game, but it’s designed so well that it feels natural and amazing to play.  It’s really difficult to get the hang of at first, and the challenge becomes pretty ridiculous towards the last few zones, but learning enemy patterns and performing every action to the beat of the music feels natural and is so satisfying.  I don’t know how they did it but Brace Yourself Games have made an indie masterpiece out of an idea that sounds like it shouldn’t work.  It also has an opera singing shop keeper called Freddie Merchantry, need I say more?

Of course with a game that requires precise movements to the beat of the music you would expect the music to be top quality, and who better to create catchy tunes with funky beats than indie composer legend Danny Baranowsky.  While there is the option to use your own music with the game, what Baranowsky has created is strong rhythmic material with catchy tunes added in for good measure.  I would recommend using the original soundtrack with the game, and I’ll explain why.

Body

This album and the game starts with one of the best tracks, “Tombtorial”.  The mid tempo beat is a perfect speed to introduce the game mechanics, and it’s obvious where the beat lies with it’s incredibly strong kick drum, even when some of the other synth parts do some off beat reverse effects.  Each layer of the music adds something significant to the progression and the harmonies work together to create an incredibly strong opening number.  Next we have “Rhythmortis”, the lobby music.  The memorability here comes from the bass end, which for most of the game is filtered (the filtered version can also be heard in this soundtrack), which is a reward to work towards.  It feels very dance like while having it’s own distinct feel, just like “Watch Your Step”, which has a slow start but when it gets going you will hear elements of other tunes from the game, dubstep, disco and other styles of dance music.  It’s so strange to hear a dance soundtrack with a dungeon crawler, but this music is so cleverly crafted and memorable.

Then the album moves on to the main level tunes, starting with zone 1’s first tune, “Disco Descent”.  This tune is amazing, immediately grabbing attention with it’s initial sounds, then when the main melody gets going it’s impossible not to groove along.  The first level of each tune needed to be good as you will die a lot in this game, and this tune does the job spectacularly.  The next tune, “Crypteque”, opts for more of a swing beat, and goes in several different directions throughout it’s run time, each one making sure the piece never rests on it’s laurels.  This is a piece where I feel the bass is the most interesting part.  Then we have “Mausoleum Mash”, which after a slow start drives into a fast paced catchy melody which doesn’t disappoint, and the unpredictable, clever use of filtering keeps the engagement levels high. 

Zone 2’s pieces slow things down and take a more chilled out approach.  “Fungal Funk” starts off slow but then goes into double time allowing it’s melody to do some different things.  The rest of the piece goes back and forth between these two modes before chilling out again to end.  “Grave Throbbing” is next, which includes some 8-bit sounds.  This is probably the slowest piece from the soundtrack, opting for more of a hip hop song drum beat.  Then “Portabellohead” is the kind of music you might hear in a shopping centre, with it’s slow funk drum beat and it’s 80’s inspired sounds.  These pieces are deceptive as they make you think these are going to be slow levels but in game the beat is closer to double time. 

Zone 3’s tracks are split into two parts.  As each of these levels have both fire and ice sections, the same piece of music is used but is done in two different styles, dance for the ice and metal for the fire.  The soundtrack splits these into two separate tracks for each level, one for the dance version and another for the metal version.  The metal versions were made by metal youtube remixer FamilyJules7x.  The first level features “Stone Cold” and “Igneous Rock”.  “Stone Cold” suits this tune better in my opinion but both tracks work well, and when it goes into double time in “Igneous Rock” it’s very effective.  Then we have “Dance of the Decorous” with “March of the Profane”.  This is another incredibly catchy swing tune, which in my opinion works best in metal form, the acoustic drum kit fits well here as do the metal chords, though once again the dance version is still great.  “A Cold Sweat” and “A Hot Mess” are next, and both are as good as each other, offering a fast paced driving piece of music.  Some of the dance sounds crop into the metal version here, which works well.

Zone 4’s pieces introduce more atmospheric sounds to the mix such as electronic choirs, giving the sense that we’re near the end of the game.  These pieces are still catchy, while introducing enough different elements to make them effective.  “Styx and Stones” feels like the beginning of the end, while “Heart of the Crypt” edges it that little bit closer, and “The Wight to Remain” is incredibly fast paced and feels like a race to the finish. 

The boss themes are scattered around the soundtrack at various points, and they are some of the best constructed tracks in the soundtrack.  “Konga Conga Kappa” is an incredibly catchy dance/conga tune, featuring the conga (obviously), an awesome bass line and a brilliant melody.  Meanwhile “Metalmancy” is fast paced metal music, which is made to feel epic while not sacrificing the catchy fun that makes the rest of this soundtrack so enjoyable.  “Knight to C-Sharp” is chilled out blues music, and it manages to make an (almost) 12 bar blues chord sequence interesting, which is an achievement.  “Deep Sea Bass” is probably the funkiest track in the game, featuring several disco tropes, a really cool bass line and the tune from “Disco Descent”, this is one that will have anyone dancing along.  Things become intense with “For Whom the Knell Tolls”, which carries on into the Necordancer fight themes and the Golden Lute theme.

The rest of the album is version of the level themes with the opera singing shopkeeper.  In this game, you can tell whether you are close to the shopkeeper (Freddie Merchantry) by listening out for midi opera singing.  It adds a huge amount of charm and comedy to the game and it is really funny to listen to these tracks with midi opera singing over the top of them. 

Summary

Overall, not only is the game a masterpiece, but I think the Crypt of the Necrodancer soundtrack is also a masterpiece.  All of these tracks are memorable, catchy, clever, charming and a lot of fun to listen to.  The dance feel shouldn’t work for a dungeon crawler but this really does, and it’s not the case that the music doesn’t work without the game, it’s amazing to listen to with or without the game, and indie masterpiece that is a credit to the game developers and Danny Baranowsky for making it all work beautifully.  This game and it’s soundtrack come very highly recommended.

Crypt of the Necrodancer Soundtrack Joe Hammond

Do you agree with the review and score? Let us know in the comments below!

5


Posted on December 26, 2015 by Joe Hammond. Last modified on December 29, 2015.

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About the Author

Joe Hammond

When I first heard the music of Nobuo Uematsu in the Final Fantasy series at about 17 years old, my love of video game music was born. Since then, I've been revisiting some of my old games, bringing back their musical memories, and checking out whatever I can find in the game music scene. Before all of this I've always been a keen gamer from an early age. I'm currently doing a PGCE (teacher training) in primary school teaching (same age as elementary school) with music specialism at Exeter University. I did my undergraduate degree in music at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. My main focus at the moment is my teaching and education work, though who knows what will happen in the future. I like a variety of music, from classical/orchestral to jazz to rock and metal and even a bit of pop. Also when you work with young children you do develop a somewhat different appreciation for the music they like.



One Response to Crypt of the Necrodancer Soundtrack

  1. Thanks Joe, this review was a very nice surprise!

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