As much as I love the simplicity of a piano solo track, there’s something to be said for decorating a piano solo track with other instruments to help it stand in stark relief. Sometimes, to portray loneliness, you need a few props, not just an empty stage.
So it is with the soundtrack to the new indie platformer Thomas Was Alone, an emotionally evocative game with an equally evocative soundtrack.
After the jump, my thoughts on the game’s soundtrack, composed by David Housden. And, of course, a bandcamp player is included.
So here’s the sound palette: piano, strings, guitar, and lots of decorative / retro synth. Upon first glance, it’d be simple to just file this away as “ambient” and be done with it. But, after playing the game, I found myself drawn to the soundtrack. It deserved more than a passing glance. I decided to look deep, to drink deep, from the well of solitude.
There’s a peace that comes from solitude. That peace is what I hear in this soundtrack. There’s a peace that comes from finding one’s way out of hell. I hear that in this soundtrack as well, especially in the simply titled closing tracks “Escape” and “Freedom.”
What’s great about this 11-track soundtrack, among other things, is its consistency and effective re-use of simple chord progressions and melodic phrases. In one song, that phrase takes a melancholic, minor-key turn. In another song, such as “A Time For Change,” little tweaks in the music make that same motif bright and vibrant. Amazing what a little light percussion can do.
So, instead of just filing this one under “ambient,” let’s try this: fans of Kan Gao’s To the Moon and Jessica Curry’s Dear Esther would be wise to check this out as well. That said, I don’t think this soundtrack would’ve grown on me half as well without having played the excellent game itself. So, for all you indie gamers out there, head to thomaswasalone.com to pick up the game direct or via Desura (the game isn’t on Steam, at least not at this point) for $10 (USD). The soundtrack, on the other hand, is priced in British pounds, and is ₤2.99 on bandcamp. The critical acclaim is not a front. This isn’t just hype. Experience the game and the soundtrack for yourself, and if I’m wrong, tell me to my (virtual) face by leaving a comment.Tags: Bandcamp, David Housden, Desura, Indie, Mike Bithell, Review, Reviews, Thomas Was Alone