Game Music, Indie Music, Reviews

Escape Goat 2 OST (Review)

July 23, 2014 | | Comment? Share thison Facebook Escape Goat 2 OST (Review)on Twitter

MagicalTimeBean, aka Ian Stocker, is the composer of a couple of game series, that of Escape Goat and Soulcaster. His music is very synth laden and, as a result, might not be to everyone’s tastes. I personally have enjoyed most of his music in the past and I have a great deal of respect for a talented composer that truly understands the language and nuances of computer games, and how to best write music for them. If nothing else, the music to Escape Goat 2, and indeed Escape Goat, perfectly matches the game’s play style and, because each level is essentially a static screen from which you have to escape (who knew!), part of the interest needs to come from the music. I feel that Stocker was very aware of this. But, does the music work outside the game? Can you listen to it while on a train or while you relax? Let’s find out.

Track 1, “Restoration,” sets the tone of the entire album, that of weird 90’s PlayStation 1 music. It’s a really upbeat, feel good track that starts out the album, and indeed the game itself, very well. For some reason the synth pan-pipe melody actually sounds okay and, instead of sounding tacky, somehow manages to fit the game well. The melody isn’t that strong, and there is a lot of filler, but there is enough interest to keep the track going. I particularly like the change in tone at 1’21”. Its a needed harmonic and stylistic shift that comes in just as the track starts to get boring.

Track 2, “Heavy Forest,” starts off with a triumphant synth trumpet fanfare, but then quickly becomes very similar to the previous track. Strangely, it reminded me of a less hectic version of the Hospital Zone in Super Meat Boy. This is to be expected as the indie game scene, although very popular, is fairly small at the top and cross influences are inevitable. Although I like the main riff, there isn’t as much interest here. This can be said of some of the other tracks as well, so I will be skipping tracks that don’t add anything new to this review.

Track 5, “Reunion,” is far more melodically interesting, with a lead guitar melody ripping through the song from start to finish. It also has a bit of an 80’s movie vibe to it. The harmonies are played on a crystal synth which gives the song a specific feel that is present throughout the whole album. It’s a track that is great to hum along to as well, both in game and while listening to the album.

I’d just like to point out that track 7, “Lair of Toragos,” is by FEZ composer, Disasterpeace. It’s an okay track but is nothing particularly interesting. However, I did like the off rhythm synth riff at 0’56”, which gives the sense of weird magic. Other than that, I just wanted to point it out.

Track 8, “Peaceful Sheep,” is very different from the other tracks so far, and comes in at the end of each stage when you collect the soul of a sheep (yes, apparently that’s a thing). It’s a very simple and beautiful track, with a short repeating motif on the harp and piano and heavy stereo delay. It’s nothing special musically, but is a pleasant change that breaks up the album nicely and is a peaceful moment in the game that allows you to catch your breath.

“Cloak of Darkness,” track 11, returns to a more frantic feel with a nice repeating synth bass riff. The track really gets going at 1’01”, with some interest in the percussion and nice piano chords. It’s interesting to note that the beats in this album are mostly pretty standard. This may have been a deliberate choice so as to not overwhelm the gameplay, but considering the good production and general interest the music has to offer, I really feel the lack of good percussion. That being said, I do like this track and I found myself humming along. I love the brief bridge at 1’44”, with the arpeggio synths, and again, it’s a welcome change in a song that could have become too boring.

“Another Calling,” track 12, is another short departure from the rest of the album, again, using heavy stereo delay on the piano. It’s short, sweet, and has a nice repeating riff. “Farewell,” track 13, is literally the 30 second piece of music that repeats when you complete the game. I suppose it had to be included in a complete soundtrack, but it really adds nothing to the album, pleasant though it is.

The last track, “Caper Errants,” starts of with a complete departure from the rest of the game, a classical style choir singing in Latin, perfect for a game about a goat right? It’s a wide departure and a welcome one. However, the Albany High School Choir that performs this track is not perfect and at 0’40”, as the simple percussion and bass come in, it does tend to get a little boring. Also, the classical style mixed with the synths and electric bass clash in a way that I don’t particularly like. The song goes all out classical rock at 2’19” with drums and lead guitar melody, which works a bit better in pulling all the elements of the entire album into one big finale. It doesn’t quite work for me, but it’s a good attempt of mixing genres and a dramatic end to an unusual game.

So in conclusion, I like Escape Goat 2 and I like the music. Some of the tracks are a bit boring, both in game and as tracks, but what album is 100% gold? Getting away from the nitty gritty of compositional technique, my eventual criteria to recommending an album is weather a) I was singing along with the music and b) weather I add it to my music collection, which is a high honor indeed! The answer to both these points is yes. It’s not the best game music in the world, but I enjoyed it at almost all points and I would recommend both buying the game and the soundtrack. There’s just something about synth pan-pipes that just really excites me! The Escape Goat 2 OST can be purchased on Bandcamp and Loudr.

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