Game Music, Indie Music, Reviews

Rogue Legacy OST (Review)

April 7, 2014 | | 1 Comment Share thison Facebook Rogue Legacy OST (Review)on Twitter

I think it needs to be said that I have not completed Rogue Legacy. Like Minecraft, it’s the type of game that I can easily dip into every now and then. I’ve only actually killed 2 bosses and it has been a while since I last played the game. So this review will be partly informed by my knowledge of the game and partly in the dark as to where the music was used.

Unlike the Super Mario 3D World OST, some thought has gone into the placement of each track on this album. This is made obvious by the fact the end credits music is the first track, and I think this works well. Like I said, I have not completed the game so I never got to the end credits, which is a shame, because the music is lovely. It starts out with a nice harp ostinato and an almost Japanese style riff on the guitar that repeats throughout the whole track, which is not a bad thing. I found myself humming along quite happily. At 00:34 the very distinctive marching percussion that A Shell in the Pit, the artist name of composer Gordon McGladdery, uses throughout the game comes in with rousing effect.

The “Rogue Legacy Main Theme” is really great and is composed by Tettix, aka Judson Cowan. The music reflects the exciting hack and slash Castlevania style gameplay that works perfectly as an introduction to the game. “Trilobyte” is the first piece you hear as you enter the ever shifting castle, and it is with this track that we see changes from the original in-game music. It starts out the same, with the, again, very distinctive and visceral A Shell in the Pit percussion and synth ostinato. However, at 0:17 the orchestration and structure departs from the original by including a new guitar riff. It’s clear that McGladdery thought that the original lacked the oomph to work as music in its own right, and I have to agree with him. Not that the in-game track is bad, it works extremely well, and I believe that this remix would have been too overbearing in-game. So, for me, it’s a welcome addition to a good track that I ended up listened to over and over again while playing the game. The original is also included at track 19.

“Pistol Shrimp (Castle Boss)” is good, exciting boss music that keeps the tension suitably high during the fight. It’s not particularly listenable on its own though, as there is no melody to speak of and is less than a minute long. “SeaSawHorse (Legacy Select)” is used when selecting a character and levelling them up. It’s good, a medieval style guitar and pizz strings piece that gives a feeling of safety when compared to the rest of the game. The track stands up on its own, mostly due to a strong melody, but can get a bit repetitive. It’s because of this that A Shell in the Pit felt it necessary to add an extremely misjudged, very loud, and very piercing violin at 00:47 which, for me, spoils the entire track! Shame there was not an original version like “Trilobyte.”

“Broadswide of the Broadsword (Dungeon)” is, surprise surprise, the music used deep in the dungeon. I only ventured into this section of the castle by accident, and usually died within seconds, but the music suites the black/dark red color pallet used here. The track winds to a start with an offbeat rhythm that continues throughout the track. A pounding beat and bass comes in at 0:20, continuing the menacing feel. The melody is nothing special and maybe could have done with an addition to make it more interesting.

“The Grim Outdoors (Forest)” is the second track I know the most, as I have spent a lot of my time here. As the name suggests, this is the garden/forest section of the castle. Although the music does not specifically reflect the surrounding, no rustling sound effects or blowing wind, it actually works well in-game. While I did not find the music offensive while playing the game, I feel it is too bland to actually listen on its own, not on a regular basis at least. “Poot-yan (Minigame)” is exactly what the name says, mini game music that follows in the great tradition of the genre. It’s short, plinky-plonky, and ever so slightly annoying, at least as music in its own right.

“Narwhal (Tower)” is a section of the game I only spent a short time in, so I presume I missed the narwhal?! (What’s with the fish naming theme anyway? Did I miss something?) Anyway, the music starts in an echoey, mysterious way that reflects the dank, misty tower very well. At 0:23 the music picks up with a synth riff and rock drums interspersed with the echoing guitar riff at the beginning. The track goes all out rock at 1:30, which I love, and the track as a whole is reminiscent of the higher quality style that A Shell in the Pit produces at his best. “Lamprey (Tower Boss)” is a crazy 8-bit out of control rock boss music that is really good, but is, unfortunately, too short.

As the game isn’t very big, at least location wise, “Stereo Blindness (Bonus Track)” is the first of the necessary bonus tracks needed to pad out the album, and is pretty sub standard. It consists merely of a very repetitive ostinato and some pad synths.

“Rotten Legacy (Final Boss)” is very menacing and quietly epic final boss music. It uses elements from the “Main Theme” to good effect and I’m sure works well as an unnerving final battle piece. As I never got this far, I was expecting something a bit more loud and explosive, but I’m sure it works well in-game. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said when listening to the music on its own. There’s just not enough there to enjoy listening to. “Whale. Shark. (End Sequence)” is musically fairly simple, with a 2 note ostinato and repeating harmonies. The melody comes in with the piano at 0:33 and, again, is somewhat simple and uninteresting. The very badly recorded/played violins make a return at 0:52 and, to my ears at least, just don’t sound good, especially compared to the high quality recording/production elsewhere.

“Manta (Bonus)” is a pleasant departure from the other tracks, stylistically, with a nice acoustic guitar melody and interesting electronic percussion, that almost gets a little dubstep at the end. The other tracks (17, 18, and 19) are, respectively, the very short intro music to the castle; a sad remix of the End Sequence, that is no better than the first; and the original game version of “Trilobyte.”

I’m not sure what to make of this album. There is no doubt that the music works well in the game, at least the music that I have heard, and is very much tied with the game’s success. The tracks, in general, are recorded and produced to a high standard and there are some tracks that I really like, “The Fish and the Whale” being my favourite. Time, effort, and serious thought has also gone into the production of this album, with bonus tracks and extra layers added to existing tracks to make them work better within an album setting. However, the boss tracks are too short, some of the tracks are just not interesting without the game, and the terribly misjudged strings are a real disappointment in my mind, spoiling otherwise good tracks. If you have played the game and are nostalgic for the music, this album is worth getting. If not, I still highly recommend giving the entire album a listen, and buy the tracks that you like, because there are some amazing gems in here. The Rogue Legacy OST can be purchased on Bandcamp, Loudr, and iTunes.

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