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Impossible Numbers

"Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, Old Time is still a-flying, And this same flower that smiles today, Tomorrow will be dying."

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Shadow of the Colossus: Classiest Video Game Music Ever · 10:45pm September 10th

Blog Number 151: "Echo of the Spirit" Edition

Shadow of the Colossus was, basically, the go-to PlayStation2 answer to the question, "Are video games art?" And, as far as the music is concerned, my answer to that is a resounding: "Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeees!"

Personally, I felt the artistic direction and the video gaming mechanics sometimes got in each other's way. For one thing, it doesn't take much for the hauntingly empty journeys between Colossi to go from subtly epic to just plain tedious. For another, the boss battles with the Colossi could be a tad hit-and-miss (for those in the know, my least favourite was Pelagia the 12th: its design is the most otherworldly and bizarre, and I love that, but it's such a convoluted slog just to get into position to attack it, and you have to do the whole rigmarole at least twice).

So I don't know that I'd recommend the game, as such. Depends what you like. Though I hear the HD remake looks tons better.

One thing I definitely remember, though, is the orchestral score. This is some of the most melancholy, awe-inspiring, unnerving, uplifting, even surprisingly gentle music I think I've ever heard in a video game, and it deserves to be praised in its own right as its own form of unsuspected beauty. Even some of the cut content is amazingly numinous and atmospheric. I couldn't possibly narrow the collection down to a handful of favourite tracks, for really, any sample is a joy and an exploration of the auditory arts.

Or, to put it another way: "Hey! You! Come listen to this cool music I found!" :raritystarry:

That's all for now. Impossible Numbers, out.

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Comments ( 7 )

I’ve always been a fan of these two:

Whoops! Almost forgot to add a link to the whole playlist. One second:

There we go! Although it'd probably look better in the OP...


:rainbowdetermined2: Triumphant moments of truth! Gad, I remember them well, the second one especially, seeing as it was the first track to play when I figured out what I was supposed to do and could finally seize my opportunity.

Whereas the first one always makes me think of a flowery spring celebration, for some reason. Ironically, like it's announcing the grand return of new life (ironic, because... well, the game is not about that).

Yeah, nothing beats the moment when you first grab onto the fur for the first time and that music starts playing.

Not classy (mileages may vary though!) but the 2016-2021 Hitman trilogy had a similar level of thought put into it.

You start off at a Paris fashion show and it's got this really fun, boppy vibe that really kicks in when you first knock someone out. And it really does capture and convey the feel of the game, especially when you're staring out, because as grim as Hitman is it's also whacky as all hell.

You can dress as a waiter and kill your target by either poisoning his cocktail or putting rat poison in it so he has a tummy ache and has to go throw up and you drown him in a toilet. You can spy on a secret document exchange and push him into the Seine while he's gloating to himself. You can knock out a fashion model and actually walk his runway. Hell, there's even a side quest that'll let you launch some fireworks so when you exit via speed boat or helicopter it's like you're giving yourself a victory parade.

It's sneaky, it's playful, it's modern, it's timeless, it's classy, it's childishly gleeful, it's sauvé, it's fun, it's increasingly dynamic, it's almost congratulatory in places. It's the first rung on a new ladder and it's just another day at the office.

You're not just some contract killer with a serial number on the back of your skull, you're James Bond. That sense of satisfaction at being the coolest guy in the room, all set against the glamour of a tacky fashion show set in a iconic French landmark and a beautiful, soothing Parisian evening.

So naturally your next two missions are in a Sapienza villa with a secret cave lab underneath, where you have to not only kill your conveniently awful targets but also destroy a custom made virus clearly built for nefarious use, and a five star Bangkok hotel on another balmy evening, where you kill a sociopathic rich kid rockstar and the dirtbag lawyer who cleared him of murdering his girlfriend...and after all that mucking about and catharsis, you get the twist.

All these seemingly unrelated targets are connected by a shadowy cabal, and this entire time you've been manipulated by a mysterious figure trying to bring them down.

You're not a secret agent. You're not even just a contract killer. You're a well dressed puppet. And so the light and music begin to become more serious, more militaristic, more angry.

Your second to last mission is a militia camp in an abandoned Colorado farm, natural coloured but dilapidated and frayed Norman Rockwell buildings hollowed out and filled with jury rigged military gear, soldiers in rag tag combat gear swarming around their rigidly cordoned off sectors like ants, all of it under a pale, cold sky. It's orange, pink and pale blue but you also have no indication what time it is. You're still the most dangerous person in here, but you've gone from swanky social highs to crawling around an almost post apocalyptic perversion of American farmland. The world you inhabit is becoming a more uncertain place, and even the answers in that farmhouse basement you need to unlock to finish the mission only create more questions.

And of course your final mission (of "season one"), tracking your last two loose ends before you go after the real mastermind: a futuristic Japanese hospital for the mega-rich. You're back on slightly more familiar ground with the lush surroundings, but even the soothing woodwind music has this feeling of urgency. Again, because of the snowy mountain atmosphere, it's not clear what time of day the frigid dark blue sky is. You have your mission but your world is still ghostly and uncertain.

Then there's the futuristic hospital side of the complex, slightly more sinister, industrial tones to go with the heightened security and once you start mucking about with the high tech equipment it plunges into futuristic horror. Like a quickening transhumanistic pulse. It's almost as if this medical wing is begging you to stop.

(15:48, specifically. Chills!)

So! Six times of day, three of them cheery and confident, two of them indeterminate and spooky as you begin to go off the edge of your personal map. Lighting and music telling a continuous story. Obvious to say, but you can get so much out of the two.

Oh, also, shout out to the Bangkok mission's in game indy rock song. It's a cool bit of story telling. The music is like it's recording studio setting: energetic but in a way that's at odds with the opulence of the hotel. The lower floors and suites are covered in elegant indoor fauna arrangements, but the band's takeover of the upper floors has left wires and litter everywhere. These two flavours do not go together.

It also helps that as an instrumental "Are We Stars" is a good time, getting you slightly buzzed and ready to if not party the night away in London basement bars at least tap your toes as you wait for the bus on a rainy weekday morning.

And gameplay wise, even though you do have to disguise yourself as a crew member and help out, the music has a lot of energy and positivity going. Everybody's having a good time making this! Except for your target, Jordan Cross, douchebag star and murderer, who's holding everything up because nothing sounds true to his vision, naturally.

And then you do get the little shit his precious "proper" microphone and he pastes over this fun track with his weird modulated voice and his lyrics are, seriously in-story, an attempt to place the blame for murdering his girlfriend onto her.

You left for the shadows without me. No Jordan, she caught you cheating and you pushed her off a roof. Out of all these cartoonishly terrible targets, you're the guy who's the most human kind of disgusting. It's why I don't feel bad rigging your vintage mic to electrocute you or just straight up shooting you in the head.

And you ruined a perfectly good instrumental!


That is some really neat and clever use of musical subtext.

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