Hayarigami Original Soundtrack
Hayarigami Original Soundtrack
Scitron Digital Contents
August 18, 2004
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Hayarigami is the first of a series of survival horror games created by Nippon Ichi Software for PlayStation 2, PSP, and DS. It is also the only title in the series that received a soundtrack release. Ryo Sakai blended a variety of horror influences to build a functional score for the game, but didn’t offer much deep or creative for stand-alone listening. As a result, this album release proves highly uninspiring and disappointing…
In terms of functionality, the themes on the soundtrack certainly suffice. A prime example, the soundtrack’s opener “Commence,” captures an appropriate mood at the start of the game. It gradually intensifies from a dark barren introduction into an intensifying action theme, reflecting the struggle of the protagonist Kogure Souichiro against paranormal beings. It enters many sections throughout its playtime, to somewhat disorientating effect out of context, but intimate effect when paired with the game’s cinematic sequences. There are plenty of further functional themes in the soundtrack used to portray specific settings, moods, and scenarios too, demonstrating Ryo Sakai at least succeeded in building an effective score.
Unfortunately, the elements that Ryo Sakai used to create “Commence”, and many others like it, are less impressive. In fact, the only astounding feature of “Commence” from a purely musical standpoint is the amount of horror clichés packed into its 2:26 playtime. Prolonged string glissandi? Check. Subliminal breathing effects? Check. An eerie soprano solo? Check again. All these features are taken from limiting sample libraries, rather than streamed instrumental performances, though their quality is acceptable for the time. As the theme moves towards the action passages, it adopts further movie clichés, with its sporadic use of tribal percussion, piano clusters, and exotic chants. Out of context, the final result doesn’t come together to create any sort of cohesive whole and it just feels like a random assembly of horror staples.
The rest of the soundtrack largely takes this derivative approach. “Title” relies entirely on extended techniques — merging together prepared piano discords, col legno strings, and post-production voice samples into one. The resultant soundscape will be alien for those unfamiliar with such techniques, but absolutely generic for anyone who has heard a range of horror scores. Sakai proceeds to exhaust his sample libraries further with “Urge”, “Remove”, and “Not Yet”, which each feature sounds that will be very familiar to those who have soundtracks such as Resident Evil. There are also orchestral compositions, such as “Darkness”, “Negative”, and “Time”, that aspire to being immersive and impacting. However, the orchestration and sampling of these themes is so weak that they only end up sounding dull and pretentious.
Is there any salvation for this score? Not really. The score is broken up a little through its lighter offerings, such as “Ordinary” and “Quiet”, but still they’re rather simplistic and superficial compositions. Solo piano compositions such as “Grieve” and “Gloom” are also reasonably appealing with their moody tones and romantic influences. However, when analysed a little more closely, it’s clear that there is nothing sophisticated about them and, like so many other pieces on the soundtrack, they just attempt to create illusions of grandeur. Sakai concludes the album with another cliché, the ballad “phantom”. Ayumi Murata’s vocals are entirely fitting and effective, despite the vanilla nature of the melody, but they’re let down by the thin and erratic accompaniment. There is also a preview of the Hayarigami Drama CD for Japanese consumers.
Hayarigami is just about a competent soundtrack — featuring moody compositions, high production values, and appropriate in-game integration. However, it lacks the individuality to stand out among other survival horror soundtracks out there, feeling more like a collection of clichés than an example of artistry. Indeed, the only superlative thing about this soundtrack is how utterly vapid it is and all readers would be wisely advised to skip this in favour of any other survival horror game soundtrack.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Chris Greening. Last modified on August 1, 2012.