Game Music, Reviews

Themes of Adventure: The Book of Unwritten Tales OST (Review)

September 4, 2012 | | Comment? Share thison Facebook Themes of Adventure: The Book of Unwritten Tales OST (Review)on Twitter

Who could forget the adventure games of the eighties and nineties? I would go so far as to say Sierra, LucasArts, and even 3DO had a hand in shaping most every PC gamer’s childhood and teen years. These games were so memorable thanks to some whimsical storytelling and colorful characters. Not lost in this shuffle, however, is some fine music. Just as the games would advance graphically and thematically, so, too, did they advance musically. Some of my fondest early game-music obsessions included Chris Braymen’s magical score to King’s Quest. But, once a little game we call DOOM was released, so, too, did it signal the beginning of the end of the point-and-click adventure game. Although the genre would produce a gem here and there over the years, its renaissance was clearly a thing of a past. Or so it would seem…

With the games market over-saturated with military shooters and sandbox-styled actioners, the demand for choice and puzzle-based adventures has been soaring of late. Telltale Games continues to win the day with its adventures (Back to the Future, The Walking Dead). Other developers have also entered themselves into the fray. Nordic Games’ The Book of Unwritten Tales is a strong (and very challenging) entry in the genre that follows in the footsteps of all the greats with a beautifully realized world, challenging gameplay, and colorful characters. Its score is

a fine addition to the library, as well. Twenty-five-year-old-composer, Benny Oschmann, weaves a score that is unexpectedly charming and sophisticated. The opening track, “The Book of Unwritten Tales Suite,” features a horn-led fanfare that would at first appear to do nothing out of the ordinary. Yet, as I was thinking about all the other themes this one may resemble at a quick glance, I could not wipe the stupid grin off of my face because it was so darn enjoyable. This piece lays out most all of the themes the player will experience in its five-minute anthem. Out of over twenty tracks, this is the only one with a duration longer than two minutes.

That is not to say the soundtrack lacks substance. In fact, one of the most beautiful tracks is “Escape,” which clocks in at forty-eight seconds. This track is melancholy with just enough hope to see you through. Strings saw away and the orchestra (much of it electronic) swells accordingly before ending abruptly. “Main Title” features the anthem heard at the beginning of the suite in identical fashion. Oschmann, not unlike John Williams, makes sure to bring all the themes back but almost never in the same way. Some of the variations feature parallel minors and change in instrumentation. However the themes may reappear, they are never without purpose and are done in a charming style.

Benny Oschmann’s score to The Book of Unwritten Tales doesn’t do anything new. It doesn’t try to reinvent the genre or even push it forward. But, that is the worst anyone could say of it – which is barely a critique. It is a charming, whimsical, and surprisingly competent soundtrack. Although there only appear to be a couple projects under Oschmann’s belt, I expect to hear much from this incredibly talented composer. Currently, the soundtrack is available as part of the collector’s edition. I would highly recommend picking up this version of the game to get this soundtrack. You will not be disappointed.

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