Heavy Rain Original Videogame Score
Heavy Rain Original Videogame Score
Sony Computer Entertainment
February 23, 2010
Download at iTunes
Heavy Rain is a very unique game. Some may scoff at describing it as an interactive drama but that is essentially what the game is. Rather than relying on action or getting from point A to point B, Heavy Rain instead decides to focuses the gameplay on the characters and their interactions and emotions, which can take the story in several directions. It’s a Game Noir (a video game that’s like a Film Noir). There are only two other games I can think of that use a similar approach, Funcom’s Dreamfall: The Longest Journey, and Fahrenheit, made by Quantum Dream, who also happen to be the developers behind Heavy Rain.
The music of Heavy Rain reflects the atmospheric approach that the game takes. Rather than an energetic rousing action score, composer Normand Corbeil instead provides a score that mostly consists of slow, tension building, emotionally driven music. The soundtrack consists of main themes for the five main characters, seven action tracks which correspond to the action sequences in the game, and four other tracks which make good use of the character’s themes. Overall this makes for a very enjoyable and moving soundtrack, which is a nice change of pace from your typical Western score.
The soundtrack opens with the main theme of Ethan Mars, a theme that has a very uneasy feel to it. It opens with a mellow cor anglais solo that expands into a full tune played by the strings, which is also the main musical motif of the soundtrack. After some ambient string writing the motif then comes back before the music dims down to a piano solo, followed by a quiet, very uneasy string chord to end. Next up we have the main theme of Norman Jayden, which has a similar feel to Ethan’s theme, but grows into a more intense, almost threatening piece of music, complete with shimmering strings and loud brass. Both of these things suddenly attack at various points in the piece, interrupting the underlying motif, as if it’s designed to shock the listener.
Madison Paige’s theme starts of a lot calmer than the other themes in the soundtrack. Though in the middle of the piece it does get more dramatic in the middle. The most interesting of these themes however is the theme of Scott Shelby. It seems to blend the jazz and romantic styles, and just like the character, his theme has a lot of mysterious elements to it. Lauren Winter’s theme is then by contrast nice and calm throughout, and in a major key. All of the main characters themes really give you a sense of what that character is like and what they are going through. Even if you’ve never played the game the music leaves that impression on you. That to me is the sign of an amazing soundtrack.
The four piece that don’t have a main character theme or action scene attached to them use” the music of the characters themes to accompany key moments in the story. “Before the Storm uses the music heard in Ethans theme, but uses different instrumentation; this eventually builds up to the climax, providing obviously a very emotional moment in the game. “Painful Memories,” probably my favourite piece of the soundtrack, is a piano solo piece that, while short, really left an impression on me. “Last Breath” then develops the ideas first heard in “Painful Memories” to make a more complete piece, with eerie strings in the background.
Then you have the action tracks. These pieces are perhaps the most typical of a Western score, with plenty of loud brass, pulsating percussion, and heavy strings, all of which makes for some very intense music. “The Chase” is appropriately very fast paced, while “The Bulldozer” is heart pounding and heavy. These pieces could probably be longer and the music doesn’t really stand out but they get the job done. To be fair, the action takes a back seat in this game so it’s understandable if more effort was focused on the character themes and the emotional impact rather than edge of your seat action.
The Heavy Rain soundtrack in my opinion is brilliant, and on its own the music is very moving and really draws you in. It’s very delicate and subtle, yet grand and epic at the same time, and like I said, it’s a really nice, refreshing change of pace from other recent Western games and soundtracks. The action scenes aren’t the greatest tracks, but with this soundtrack that’s not the focus; the focus is the characters and the story, and those aspects of the soundtrack are outstanding. Obviously it helps to have played the game but also I think this is a soundtrack that really warrants a stand-alone purchase, to allow you to truly appreciate how good the music really is.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Joe Hammond. Last modified on August 1, 2012.