History has shown us that when gamedev sets the course on the works of a fantasy fiction writer – and a famous one – success is practically guaranteed. Such was the case with, among others, Andrzej Sapkowski’s The Witcher and Dmitry Glukhovsky’s „Metro”series. This time, debuting studio Aurum Dust took one step further and involved the creator himself – Sergey Malitsky, mostly known in Russia. The story has been set in the fictional, Medieval-inspired world of Terminum, the mechanics have conjoined those of visual novels and tactical RPGs, and the music has been scored by three experienced composers: Adam Skorupa, Krzysztof Wierzynkiewicz and Michał Cielecki. The result is an over-an-hour-long soundtrack telling a fable of three independent characters trying to find their way in a world devastated by apocalyptic Reapings.
The Medieval-folk soundtrack plays any time we are reading through blocks of text and battle scoundrels. Its power lies in flexibility – not meaning the adjustments the score makes to the player’s actions, but rather (conscious) lack of fully fleshed out themes, although there are many theme-worthy characters and places. Many tracks from the score come back to us like a boomerang, but this music is not one that easily bores the listener. For someone in love with soundtracks, this is a double-edged sword, because such „exchange” (no motifs for increased flexibility) proves to be a difficulty while listening to the music without the game itself.
Many tracks from the score come back to us like a boomerang.
The dissonance between how attractive the music is in the game versus without the gameplay also comes from the structure of some of the tracks. Seemingly short cues stitched together into slow pieces following the player around give the game a certain charm and compliment the idea of a death-centered story (even if the main character dies, the plot goes on) really well. It does not translate well into stand-alone listening, though, which, at times, was very tiresome for me. Neither did help a feeling that a few of the compositions have been nonchalantly glued together, bringing up a longer structure out of 20-second cues, and after that, unnaturally looped to arrive at a total of a couple of minutes.
Just as The Banner Saga is the inspiration for the gameplay of Ash of Gods, the musical equivalent here is The Witcher. The three composers have had quite an impact on Geralt of Rivia’s musical universe, which can definitely be heard throughout the reviewed OST. To write that the score for Aurum Dust’s game is like „The Witcher without the cinematic edge” would very much be an overstep, but the similarity in used instruments and the aggressive vocals is hard to ignore. It’s also hard to resist the feeling that a fictional world so rich deserves music that will add to its uniqueness, and not only take our hand and give a tour of Kaer Morhen.
There isn’t much to focus your ear on.
Ash of Gods: Redemption is a correctly-done soundtrack suited for the game. There isn’t much to pick on about the technical aspect (and definitely nothing bad to say about the performers and vocalists), the tracks work as they should in-game, and, importantly, don’t bore the player. Without the game, the score falls apart like a Jenga tower. There isn’t much to focus your ear on, and the less „structured” (see two paragraphs above) pieces aren’t as charming to engage more of our CPUs than just a core or two. It’s worth it to listen to the masterful performances, it’s nice to get to know the gloomy „death music”, but with time, the pros would probably turn into cons.