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Heavy Rain's BAFTA-winning soundtrack (Best Original Score, Videogame, 2011) exerts an excellence common among film scores but which is quite rare among games. It is traditional, but packs an emotional and musical punch setting it apart from its peers.
What I found most remarkable about the Heavy Rain soundtrack is how much I can enjoy it away from the experience of the game. It's true that the score undoubtedly resurrected emotional reactions to the game's story; even with that aside, however, the melodies, motifs and arrangement of the music manages to resonate very deeply with me.
The soundtrack is essentially an orchestral suite. It is fairly modern-traditional in style, not sounding out of place alongside many film soundtracks or even some of the modern pieces popular in western orchestral music early last century.
Normand Corbeil communicates the turmoil of the characters using heavily discordant strings alongside raging percussion. Somehow it reminded me of Stravinsky (e.g. The Rite of Spring) although mixed with Blues and broken up by some haunting piano melodies.
As my first experience of Corbeil I was immediately struck by his skill with these musical elements. The piece often breaks down into small groupings of instruments together - rather than over-using a full orchestral sound - and Corbeil's choice of particular instrumentation hits exactly the right emotion.
One of the most balanced and beautifully written soundtracks I have come across.
This is a powerful soundtrack of gripping ideas, driving pace and disquieting dischords placed alongside melodic and introspective piano sections and beautiful instrumental solos.
Common with soundtracks of this type there are one or two shorter tracks, clearly scored into the game to provide musical cover for game sequences. These themes suffer a little from not being integrated into a wider piece elsewhere but still provide appropriate thematic support to the surrounding music.
That aside, this is one of the most balanced and beautifully written and recorded soundtracks I have had the pleasure to come across. The themes and tones of this album stay with me long after the last note has faded from hearing and I find myself wanted to revisit this time and again. It is certainly worthy of the BAFTA game award for Best Original Soundtrack and in my opinion is worthy of most accolades one could feel given to award it.
Hopefully future games can produce music of this stature.
Whatever the long term impact of Heavy Rain's unusual gameplay, hopefully future games can produce music of this quality and stature.
[Chris Jarvis writes the Novel Gamer column where you can read his Brutal Legend fiction.]
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: