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The Enchanted Cave 2 OST (Review)

The Enchanted Cave 2 OST (Review)

June 9, 2015 | | Comment? Share thison Facebook The Enchanted Cave 2 OST (Review)on Twitter

For the past few years, the indie game scene has been seeing preferences to specific game genres. The fantasy rouge-like, or rouge-light if you prefer, has become a popular format to create games. In particular, the procedurally generated dungeon crawler has been a favorite of indie game developers. One of the more recent entrees to this genre is a the game The Enchanted Cave 2. Like the first game in the series, The Enchanted Cave 2 is a rouge-like dungeon crawler with randomly generated floors, items, and enemy placement. The game, created by Dustin Auxier, was made thanks to a successful Kickstarter, just making it to the initial goal. The game was recently released on Steam, Android, and iOS platforms.

The composer for this indie title is none other than BAFTA nominated composer Grant Kirkhope. Many game music enthusiasts are no doubt familiar with his work at Rare on games like Banjo-Kazooie, Perfect Dark, and Donkey Kong 64. His memorable melody writing and unique composition style make him a valuable collaborator for any project that he takes on. Kirkhope is also no stranger to the freelance composition world, even doing some collaborative music work on Desktop Dungeons with composer Danny Baranowsky back in 2013. So today we will be looking at his work on The Enchanted Cave 2 OST and examining how his music sets the mood for this fantasy dungeon crawler.

The opening track, “Enter the Enchanted Cave!,” serves as the title screen music and the music for the town/overworld. Opening up with a simple flute melody and harp accompaniment, the piece soon builds up with a full string section and woodwinds. Much of the track evokes a sense of mystery and adventure while still remaining upbeat and cheerful. The woodwind instruments in particular get a lot of focus. At around the 2’28” mark, the horns come in and bring a more serious and heroic tone to the piece. Overall a strong opening to set the appropriate mood for this dungeon crawling adventure.

Once you enter the enchanted cave, the 100 floor dungeon that makes up a bulk of your experience, the next track, “Dark Cave,” begins. Like the previous piece, there’s an emphasis on the woodwinds for the melody with the strings accompanying. The music strikes a much darker tone, which is appropriate for the dangerous environment that you are exploring. The inclusion of the marimba at key points of the track is a nice touch that contrasts well with the rest of the instruments, while still evoking the cavernous setting.

As you delve deeper into the dungeon you will encounter a change in the environments and enemies. Naturally, this leads to new music tracks to match the new areas. What I enjoy about the soundtrack is how each piece has a drastically different mood, giving a great sense of variety in the gameplay experience. “Jungle Temple” for example has a lot of emphasis on drum rhythms, marimba, and low woodwinds, while the track “Ice” has more emphasis on celesta, marimba, and pizzicato string plucks. In each case the music is helping to set the tone for the different environments, rather than the more or less unchanging gameplay. The temple-like areas get the more primal sounding “Jungle Temple,” while the lower ice levels receive the lighter and more delicate sounding “Ice” track.

Of course, not all of the music written is for the dungeon areas. There’s a rather upbeat and catchy track for the shops that you encounter at various points in your adventure. “The Shop” primarily features the marimba and xylophone. Around the 1’05” mark a guitar enters to accompany and then to introduce some melodies of its own. I rarely heard this piece in its entirety during my time with the game, since I tended to rush through the shop sections. After listening to it in its entirety on the album, I have to say it’s become one of my favorite tracks. It has some incredibly catchy melodies that stayed in my head long after I had listened to it.

The music for the final area, titled “The Undead,” builds a much more foreboding tone than any of the previous pieces. While the earlier areas had music that built some tension, there was always a small amount of mysterious playfulness to them. This piece starts slow and methodically, but gradually builds a feeling of tension and suspense. The piece has an orchestral tone that reminded me of John Williams’s Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets soundtrack. It’s sinister sounding, but is still remains melodically pleasing and mysterious. Low string chords, ominous bass drum strikes, slinky woodwind melodies, and occasional celesta arpeggios all help to create a foreboding atmosphere for The Enchanted Cave 2’s final floors.

Then of course, for the final track, there is a boss theme. Simply titled, “The Boss,” the opening twenty-five seconds give us the music for the final boss’s grand entrance, with a set of dramatic chords from the brass section. The piece features flurries of string arpeggios, climactic melodies from the brass instruments, dramatic percussion hits, and even some themes from the woodwind instruments. It’s everything you want in a boss theme and it truly creates a great climax within the game, and as an ending to the album itself. It also creates a great amount of tonal contrast to the slower paced and moodier pieces in the rest of the soundtrack. A fitting ending piece for this fantasy adventure.

Like many of Grant Kirkhope’s other soundtracks, The Enchanted Cave 2 OST is a wonderful listening experience. Each area has music that feels unique, while still feeling cohesive with the other tracks. A foundation of well written melodies and a variety of orchestral textures help make this soundtrack a memorable one. Even pieces like the shop theme manage to stay in my head long after I’ve listened to the album. I would recommend checking out this soundtrack, even if you haven’t had a chance to play the game. It’s a great set of music from a well seasoned veteran of the game music world. You can find The Enchanted Cave 2 OST on Bandcamp.

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