Game Music, Indie Music, Reviews

Prismatica Soundtrack (Review)

August 10, 2015 | | Comment? Share thison Facebook Prismatica Soundtrack (Review)on Twitter

Prismatica: A New Twist on Puzzle Games

Prismatica is a puzzle game that has gotten some positive attention in the gaming world and was just released on Steam this past July. It was nominated for the Best Upcoming Game at the 11th Annual International Mobile Gaming Awards (IMGA) in San Francisco this year, and has been praised for its different take on puzzle games and its bright and cheerful style. The game features music written by award-winning indie folk musician Svavar Knutur, which in my mind is part of what helps it stand out from the crowd of puzzle games.

Prismatica is a whimsical and colorful game in which you spin groups of colored hexagons around to align the hexagons with secondary colors between groups of hexagons of the appropriate primary colors. It’s a little bit like Bejweled or Candy Crush crossed with a Rubik’s cube, with its own set of strategies and challenges. The game is really very simple at its core. Actually, the only text in the entire game is the title on the main menu screen. All of the menu buttons are just symbols, and the game itself provides very minimal instructions on how to play.  It’s pretty easy to pick it up and figure out the basic concepts though, and after you get going it’s very satisfying to begin solving the puzzles.

Knutur’s music does a very good job of creating a warm and cheerful environment in line with the game’s aesthetics and overall feel, while simultaneously serving the purpose of being good background music while you are focusing on trying to solve a puzzle. The tracks are primarily solo ukulele, and what you probably wouldn’t know from listening to them is that they are actually the accompaniments to some of Knutur’s vocal songs. Though this might sound like it wouldn’t work too well at first, especially if you’re not familiar with Knutur’s music, I found that the music fit in quite well and served the game’s ambiance admirably. Take a listen to the opening track, “Baby Would You Marry Me”.

Baby Would You Marry MeSvavar Knutur
It opens with a solo ukulele playing a very easygoing swung accompaniment. About 45 seconds in, a light synth comes in with a melody, along with some light percussion. This track plays on the menu, but also comes in during some of the levels in the main game. It works very well in setting a lighthearted and whimsical mood for the game right from the beginning, and it fits in really well with the visual style of the game as well.

The soundtrack has some good variety, with some tracks in the more easygoing swing style of “Baby Would You Marry Me”, and some in a more subdued minor. A good example of one of the less upbeat tracks is “While the World Burns”; take a listen below.

While the World BurnsSvavar Knutur
While the track doesn’t have the same easygoing and bright feel as “Baby Will You Marry Me”, it creates a really nice contrast with the brighter tracks as it comes up between different levels of the game. It’s subdued, and it finds a good balance between being repetitive while still changing subtly every so often, which works well to spur you along when you are focusing on trying to solve a puzzle. It also happens to be one of my favorite tracks specifically because of the little changing details in the accompaniment, which creates a sort of “prismatic” feeling to the music as it shifts between harmonies.

While having the backing tracks as the music to the game actually works better than you might think, there are some times when it doesn’t work quite so well. For instance, some of the sound effects in the menu clash with the music a bit. I am also not very fond of the fadeout effect used when cutting between different tracks, which sounds like a record being stopped. It tends to feel fairly jarring when placed in the more easygoing and smooth ambiance that the game is going for.

Overall though, I enjoyed the music to Prismatica; it works really well for setting the tone of the game and for getting you into the puzzle-solving mindset. But what I really wanted was more. There are only five tracks, and by the time I had completed the first set of puzzles I felt like I knew them all pretty well, so even just a few more would provide some extra variety. It would have been nice to have a couple of new tracks make their way into the rotation as you progress through the game.

I was also a bit disappointed that the opening track was the only one that featured anything more than just the solo ukulele. I think that the simplicity of the solo ukulele tracks is a really good choice overall, but since “Baby Would You Marry Me” is mixed in with its light synth melody that also works so nicely, it made me wish that there had been another track or two that featured similar instrumentation along with the solo ukulele tracks.

Overall, if you are a fan of puzzle games you will probably really enjoy Prismatica’s puzzle style, as it is pretty different from any puzzle game that I have tried before. It has it’s own character with a nice feel and style that won’t disappoint. Also, if you’re a fan of folk music, you’ll certainly enjoy the soundtrack as you play. You can even go further and check out more of Svavar Knutur’s music at his website.

Find Prismatica on Steam here.

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