The Evil Within Original Game Soundtrack
The Evil Within Original Game Soundtrack
October 13, 2014
Download at iTunes
The Evil Within was without a doubt this year’s highest profile horror release, especially due to the fact that it was envisioned by none other than, Shinji Mikami, the maestro of horror gaming who was responsible for the genre-defining Resident Evil series. However, I was a little concerned there wasn’t a lot of chatter about the music of the game. In general, horror games tend to have some of the most beautiful and memorable tracks, because they are filled with emotion scary or otherwise. So, it was a bit unfortunate hearing that Mikami wanted the music to take a back seat after his incredible soundtracks to Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 4. That said, the audio for the game was handled by two veterans from the industry: Tango Gameworks’ sound director Masafumi Takada (Killer7, No More Heroes, The Umbrella Chronicles) and sound designer Shuichi Kobori (Metal Gear Solid 4, Zone of the Enders, Terror of the Stratus). With talent like this, what did the under-publicised The Evil Within soundtrack sound like?
In horror composing,it is conventional to psychologically affect listeners with tense textures and creepy phrases. However, only the soundtracks that feature experimental scoring techniques (e.g. Silent Hill, Resident Evil 4, Alice) or strong melodies (e.g. Silent Hill 2, Resident Evil 2) tend to particularly hold up on a stand-alone level. Perhaps unfortunately, the soundtrack for The Evil Within is all about dark ambient soundscaping. Melodies are barely anywhere to be found and the stylings are generally too understated to leave a lasting impression. The end result is a soundtrack that suitably adds atmosphere to the game, but basically falls down on a stand-alone level.
Melodies is what this soundtrack severely misses. The most melodic track isn’t even original unfortunately, and is instead Claude Debussy’s ever so beautiful Clair De Lune. While a somewhat clichéd choice of music, it’s integration in the gameplay is effective: it points you towards mirrors in the game, which are basically these portal to Sebastian’s inner psyche where you can save your progress and upgrade your abilities. I might as well just say that this pretty much acts as the game’s main theme from the beginning till the end. Anyone who has played Flower, Sun and Rain will know that this composition is a favourite of Takada’s and it’s use here is generally a highlight.
Blurring the boundaries between music and sound design, most tracks are basically one sound effects collection progressing to the next in front of dreamy sounding pads. The likes of “Lurking in the Dark” and “Don’t Be a Hero” are pretty effective as threatening soundscapes, adding to the atmosphere and tension of an already terrifying game. However, they’re not so interesting as stand-alone listens given their lack of melody and indeed musical structure in general.
The highlights for me I like are those that have some form of organic aspect to it. Most notable is the Graves-esque “Crude Contraption”, which uses an alarming string rhythm to really raise tension, and the lengthy “Retrieval” with its dabs of Hollywood-styled orchestration.
While Shuichi Kobori mainly focused on sound design for the game, the Metal Gear Solid composer did compose one track that made it to the soundtrack release, “Cold Corridors”. It sounds pretty good as the samples that have been employed mix well to give you a very stylistic horror listen. I especially like those small static noises at times, which remind me of The Evil Within’s twisted world that is crawling with all these small insects. Wish there was more of that by Kobori in this soundtrack. Takada’s “Don’t Be A Hero” fortunately sounds similar in terms of hectic samples used, and is one of the soundtrack’s more exciting moments.
We do have at least something thematic and original in the form of “Code 3: En Route”. Playing during the game’s beginning, it does its job well in making the scene stylish and stands up somewhat on a stand-alone level with its mixture of electro-acoustics and ambient noises. Still, it’s too brief to really be a massive highlight. It is disappointing however, seeing how much Mikami has been talking about our protagonist’s importance in the game, that he didn’t even get a theme. It would’ve been certainly interesting to hear him translated into a musical format. None of the characters, or bosses including the iconic Keeper, Laura or Ruvik, have their own themes.
All in all, there isn’t much to talk about with this soundtrack, as in my opinion it was best suited to the actual game. Sure there maybe a few tracks like “Crude Contraption”, “Cold Corridors” and “Code 3: En Route” that are pretty interesting to listen to, but the majority of the track doesn’t contain anything memorable or entertaining on a stand alone basis. That does not mean it is bad however, as it works great for the ambiance during game, but you can clearly see that there wasn’t much of a heart in composing the game probably due to the fact that Shinji wanted it to take a backseat. Should you still wish to make the plunge, the soundtrack is available for 10 USD through digital retailers now.
Do you agree with the review and score? Let us know in the comments below!
Posted on November 16, 2014 by Harris Iqbal. Last modified on November 17, 2014.