September 1, 2015
Buy at LOUDR
Nova-111 is a new sci-fi turn based adventure game, with a score composed by Jack Menhorn. Set in alien and colourful parts of the the universe, the score features many atmospheric techno aspects in combination with an upbeat and cheerful mood. The soundtrack doesn’t have much in the way of catchy themes or memorable melodies, but rather goes for infectious rhythms and short motifs that make the tracks very enjoyable in the moment, and helping to make the game more enjoyable too.
The album starts with “Patel Frequency”, an appropriately space-y track with some beats and basic repeating melodic accompaniments atop a light ambience that evolves throughout the track. This formula is used often in the soundtrack, making for accessible pieces that have a strong, defined atmosphere, a good sense of development, and a general groove. The slower tracks like this opening one include the great “Lees Motion Principal” which has a better developed melody that comes in later one, as well as a touch of melancholy. Later tracks like “Noisin Lock” and “V-king-52” are a bit too sparse for my tastes, but tracks like “Ruins of Aanndi” are “Pan Veren Belt” are more engaging with their echoed guitar and piano elements on top giving a human feel to the otherwise space-y and synthetic tracks. “Stellar Timeporting” is the most minimal of the tracks, being mainly pads throughout with a few piano trickles here and there. It has great sound design to it, filling my head each time I hear it while seemingly drawing me into a bright light. The final track “End” is a pleasant piece that slowly adds elements onto itself, and nicely captures a feeling of floating around in a vast expanse.
A good portion of the album, while still following this formula, has an infectious rhythm as well. “Henphrie Assembly” has a bubbly atmosphere and some great retro-ish synths and a strong beat that makes it particularly engaging, while “Nova-111” is busier with even heavier percussion and synths, and benefits from its overall lighter atmosphere. “Magneto Colobra” has a great, prominent bassline to it underneath its light piano above. It is more melodic than most of the other tracks, and it is also endearing with its light spirit. The following “Compound K-L1n” is a bit similar, but with more focus on the drums and bass, feeling a bit more groovy. “Vessali-N” is even more bright and positive with its sound, and although its melodies are very simple, it makes the piece all the more charming.
Two outliers in terms of sound are “Nowde Tails” and “Hussinger’s Theorem”. The former is a noir jazz track complete with a bit of a vintage sound quality. Despite the departure in sound from the rest of the album, it still manages to fit in with the others as a spiritual sibling due to its freely meandering piano line, as well as its prominent bass and percussion. I quite like “Hussinger’s Theorem” which begins slowly in a very bare and meditative manner, but then midway through adds percussion that has a bit of a tribal sound to it, as well as a dreamy, new-age piano line. It gives it a distinctive sound that really makes it stand out on the album, and is one of my favourites.
Nova-111 is a solid sci-fi soundtrack which has a great groove and a pleasant atmosphere that is easy to listen to. It never gets too oppressive or dark, but rather complements its visuals with a bright palette of synths and great rhythms. I do wish that it was a bit more memorable thematically, but the overall sound of the score makes it fairly distinct in my catalogue of music, and it is one that easily enhances the experience of the game.
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Posted on October 13, 2015 by Christopher Huynh. Last modified on October 13, 2015.