Dishonored Original Game Soundtrack
Dishonored Original Game Soundtrack
January 31, 2013
Download at iTunes
Marking his video game debut as the new composer for the Silent Hill series, Daniel Licht (Dexter, Hellraiser) went on to score one of 2012’s biggest new IP: Dishonored. The game received much praised from critics for its innovative presentation and gameplay, and went on to sell over four million copies worldwide. The game’s soundtrack combined ominous yet beautiful music with several highlight vocal themes. Following some wait, Bethesda released the game’s soundtrack digitally, featuring ten instrumental tracks and three vocal tracks from the game.
With Dishonored, Daniel Licht created something that is a lot different to what is heard in most games today. Rather than going for an all-out loud or grave approaches to give a sense of immediate danger, much of the score is in fact very subtle and ambient. To complement the game’s dark and unpredictable nature, Licht combines Victorian era instruments with prepared instrument techniques and warped electronic techniques. By fusing such elements, he really brings the game’s distorted world to life in tracks such as “Streets Exploration” and “Flooded Suspense”. These tracks will be too ambient to appeal to many mainstream listeners, but just like similarly-ambient soundtracks such as Deus Ex: Human Revolution or The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, they’re so innovatively styled and beautifully mixed that they will leave many listeners spellbound.
While not all tracks pack a melodic punch, many of them. I have to admit that, when I first heard the main theme for the game, I was left speechless. The combination of the light acoustic instruments with the darker distorted elements that set in creating such a gorgeous dichotomy. The main melody, subtly presented through vocals, bring much cinematic flair to the theme while still keeping things very personal and slightly eccentric. The melody recurs several times throughout the soundtrack, for example in the exquisite “Intro the Return”. But like many of the tracks here, these incarnations of the main theme are rather brief as they were intended for specific in-game contexts and hence aren’t quite as satisfying as they could have been on a stand-alone basis. The final soundtrack only runs for 32 minutes as a result.
While the majority of the soundtrack is highly ambient, there are some more percussive tracks to reflect the game’s action sequences. “Empresses Death”, for example, is played during a hectic fight sequence while the player tries to protect the empress. The track begins with fast, exciting percussion elements that slowly fade out as the track reverts back to its solemn mood as the sequence takes a sinister turn. “Ambients”, another track that is all-too-brief but still-effective, incorporates earthy percussion to immersing effect in and out of context. Between these slightly more action-packed excursions, there are other softer tracks that still have plenty of uniqueness, for example “Wrenhaven River” with its violin harmonics or “Aristocracy Exploration” with its elegant orchestration.
Lastly, there are the songs that everyone has raved about. “Drunken Whaler” was used extensively in the game’s marketing, firstly in its mind-blowing trailer and then in a remix competition. The soundtrack contains two versions of the track: the trailer version and a full uncut version. Presenting a haunting twist on the sea shanty, the best aspects of the track are the voices from Voodoo Highway and the gruesome lyrics that match the situation of Dunwall. The other song, “Honor for All”, is played during the ending credits. It features the inspiring voices of Jon Licht (Daniel’s brother, who sung “Die this Way” from Dexter) and Mary Elizabeth McGlynn (who collaborated with Daniel on Silent Hill: Book of Memories). It also boasts a really interesting melody and lyrics relatable to the game, wrapping everything up in an excellent way.
Dishonored‘s music is beautiful, breathtaking, and ominous all at the same time. But most of all, it is innovative considering the experimentations Licht has done and the techniques he has used to truly bring the city and mood of Dunwall to life. Even though the soundtrack is mainly comprised of brief and ambient compositions, the soundscapes are so unique and beautiful that the stand-alone soundtrack still has plenty of interesting moments. For those that don’t enjoy ambient music, at least download the main theme, “Honor for All” and “Drunken Whaler” as these are exceptional tracks. The soundtrack is available to download for 10 USD on iTunes now.
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Posted on May 8, 2015 by Harris Iqbal. Last modified on May 8, 2015.