[Endless Playlist is a series of monthly articles where we pick a video game soundtrack for discussion and try to provide a critical analysis of how it performs within the game it’s from, and how it holds up on its own. This month, we’re breaking down the Assassin’s Creed Odyssey soundtrack.]
Western games and their accompanying soundtracks aren’t often very enjoyable to talk about, if just for the straightforward purpose that they all appear to subscribe to the assumption that the music have to be as cinematic and ambient as potential.
Assassin’s Creed falls into this lure most of the time, but there was one very particular second within the collection where I’d felt just like the music had finally come to life, and I was virtually in shock of the fact that a monitor from Murderer’s Creed truly made me really feel issues.
That moment was in the ultimate mission of Murderer’s Creed III, the worst and most boring mainline recreation within the collection. Up till that remaining mission, Connor was an entire bore, the story was weird and complicated.
However then we get to that remaining chase sequence, and this high-octane, heart-pounding monitor starts blasting as you’re operating over planks and vaulting over stalls to catch the devious Charles Lee.
It was this dramatic, orchestral amalgamation of crying violins and violent drums backing up Connor’s determined yells that basically fueled my willpower to cease the villain as soon as and for all. It was a relentless 1-2-Three beat that by no means stopped.
Abruptly, I used to be invested in Connor’s pain, in his battle, when up thus far he was nothing to me however a block of wood. I never needed that chase to end.
The Murderer’s Creed soundtracks by no means fairly caught my attention like that again, at the very least not till Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, which we’ll be talking about as we speak.
The Flight have been composing music for video games since 2008, however their actual breakout effort was back in 2017, once they composed the soundtrack for Horizon: Zero Daybreak.
The earlier half of Horizon’s soundtrack featured heavy tribal influences to characterize the totally different factions in that post-apocalyptic world, and a whole lot of that has translated to the music for Assassin’s Creed Odyssey as nicely.
The most important problem of composing music for a recreation set in Historic Greece was, in fact, truly determining which instruments would fit that period greatest. In any case, there’s little evidence to tell us precisely what kinds of music or devices have been used during that interval of historical past, so The Flight needed to do their own analysis and improvise slightly.
Speaking with Enternity, by way of Viral BPM, The Flight’s Alexis Smith cited the dulcimer, bouzoukis, panpipes, and “various lyres” as a few of the devices they’d used to try to deliver the world of Murderer’s Creed Odyssey to life. And it labored.
We’ll begin with one of the best —the primary theme of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, titled Legend of the Eagle Bearer.
Right from the start, you’ll be able to hear a number of the tribal influences of Horizon Zero Dawn’s music, because of the strings. But you also get a hint of the cinematic modernity that’s so current in Murderer’s Creed soundtracks because of the looming backing percussion.
It’s not lengthy before the monitor launches into its crescendo with the percussion and tribal drums out in full pressure, but the monitor’s not completed just yet. We get a quick strings interlude earlier than the chanters are available to offer us the complete pressure of this explosive foremost theme.
Despite being a simple repeating four-beat piece, it’s the best way the instruments layer on prime of each other, along with the vocals, that give Legend of the Eagle Bearer such a rich sound. It’s a really cinematic method of representing the epic Spartan battles that we’ll be getting to in the recreation, and it’s used a lot more throughout the rating as nicely.
Enter the Animus, as an example, starts off as being a fairly typical, sci-fi type monitor with its echoing reverb. The electronic type monitor is synonymous with the fashionable story sections of the Assassin’s Creed collection at this point, and identical to the fashionable narrative itself, these tracks aren’t all the time probably the most partaking to take heed to.
Then the Eagle Bearer motif slips in about partway by way of the monitor, and you get The Flight’s version of an Historic Greek twist on the fashionable palette of Murderer’s Creed.
Battle music has never sometimes been Murderer’s Creed’s robust go well with either, but surprisingly, there are some standouts in Odyssey.
Revenge of the Wolves is a major example of the “in your face” combat music, beginning out with a predictable ominous build-up that ultimately leads into tribal drums. Nevertheless, The Flight also sneaks in some horns and chimes in there to help the rising rigidity.
It’s easily one of the tensest fight tracks in Murderer’s Creed Odyssey, because of the disparate chimes swerving in and out of the piece in a hard and fast, but somewhat unpredictable, manner.
Distinction that to Pirates, Thugs, and Bandits, which adopts a much more delicate strategy to encounter music. The early moments of this monitor are this beautiful rhythmic again and forth between strings and percussion, virtually like a riff-off between the instrumental varieties representing two sides of a wavy battle.
The two sides are utterly separate at first, nevertheless it’s not lengthy earlier than the riff swaps get more speedy and they begin blending collectively to create a fiery, collaborative chorus. Whereas Revenge of the Wolves’ depth serves as a extra intimate combat monitor, Pirates is way extra playful, perhaps to indicate the uncoordinated and unpredictable nature of the sea.
That stated, not all the battle music tracks are fairly nearly as good as these two. Like most other Murderer’s Creed soundtracks, you typically get overly ambient or cinematic items that blend so nicely into the game you barely discover them at all. And whenever you take heed to them after, you hardly keep in mind once they even performed in the course of the recreation itself.
On the Battlefield is a type of tracks, largely comprised of drums, and largely forgettable till the very finish, whenever you get one other hint of the memorable Eagle Bearer motif. Not quite sufficient to save lots of the monitor, nevertheless.
Then there’s what I wish to call the token tragic monitor, which is principally your unhappy monitor with delicate vocals to let you understand that something sad is occurring within the recreation proper now, and you have to be emotional.
The token tragic monitor of Murderer’s Creed Odyssey is none aside from Phoibe’s Destiny, which performs throughout a particularly affecting moment within the story. It’s not necessarily a nasty piece by any means; it’s a brief monitor that opens with the feminine vocalist, and tender, disparate strings to set the mood.
I’m pretty positive you solely hear it as soon as in your complete recreation, and it’s over earlier than the music will get the prospect to go anyplace fascinating.
Once more, it serves its objective in highlighting Phoibe’s destiny, but you’ll shortly find that Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is crammed with so many of those one-off tracks that don’t serve a lot thematic function aside from to let you understand that something emotional or essential is occurring onscreen.
If Phoibe had a devoted theme of her own, perhaps this might’ve been a more memorable piece, however alas, she doesn’t.
That’s in all probability one of many largest downfalls of Murderer’s Creed Odyssey’s music; nearly as good as its fundamental theme is, it never feels like it’s been correctly woven into the DNA of the rating itself. It’s one of the three primary recognizable themes within the recreation, however it feels so woefully underutilized, especially when you think about how massive this 56-track assortment is. It seems like a missed alternative.
The opposite two themes are, in fact, Assassin’s Creed (or Ezio’s Household, as ACII followers shall be quick to right you) and Myrinne.
Initially composed by Jasper Kyd in Murderer’s Creed II, Ezio’s Household is an immediately iconic theme that invokes lots of nostalgia because of that recognizable ostinato and the repeating vocals. Odyssey offers an Historic Greek twist on the theme with its new devices and deeper vocals.
What’s fascinating about Ezio’s Family is that it’s since been renamed Murderer’s Creed, to represent that this actually is the primary theme of the franchise at this point, which is definitely becoming. The issue? It’s not a theme that feels properly utilized.
Whereas Legend of the Eagle Bearer felt underused, Murderer’s Creed is nearly overused as you hear it each time you open up your map and quest menu within the recreation, and in fact, once more at the end of the sport.
For a theme that’s meant to be consultant of all the franchise, you’d assume that it’d be reserved for the large narrative moments, and not ambient music you take heed to whenever you’re making an attempt to determine where to go next in a large open world.
The third theme is Myrinne, which plays whenever you first meet Kassandra’s mother. In contrast to the token tragic monitor that’s Phoibe’s Fate, this can be a proper, fleshed out theme for Myrinne herself as a character, and it’s woven into the game’s narrative threads moderately successfully.
You hear a more weak and somber version of it in Things Fall Apart, which plays through the recreation’s worst, but most fitting, ending.
You hear shades of it in A Glad Family, which is sort of probably probably the most impactful monitor in Murderer’s Creed Odyssey, at the least when it comes to the sort of music that embodies the complete narrative of the sport.
The title is a bit of a misnomer, as that is a particularly somber monitor, which I feel is significantly applicable for Odyssey and representative of the Greek Tragedy parts of the story.
Odyssey’s story is pushed by Kassandra’s want to be reunited together with her family, and the interior battle that comes with that want itself.
The monitor is a end result of the two massive themes within the recreation, together with Myrinne and Legend of the Eagle Bearer, representing the duality of Kassandra’s position in the recreation: her familial want, and her ascension as the being who kickstarted the conflict between the Templars and the Assassins.
A Glad Household is a really acoustic monitor, a minimum of in its first half, but slowed down by a relatively experimental sounding midpoint that doesn’t quite work with the rest of the music. Thankfully, it doesn’t last too lengthy before we return to the strings, and The Flight brings back the Eagle Bearer motif to shut things out.
As an entire, I might say that it’s Odyssey’s story that manages to raise the soundtrack to a new degree.
Whereas Murderer’s Creed III’s Hassle in City truly did the unimaginable and made me feel issues for its protagonist via its remaining mission music, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’s soundtrack largely falls into that very same lure of creating a cinematic soundscape for the story, quite than focusing on recurring themes to help enhance the already spectacular narrative.
Is it value a pay attention when you haven’t played the game? Definitely not, as so much of your appreciation for its music would doubtless solely come out of your love for Odyssey’s narrative. Each monitor on this collection is supposed to set the scene for the story, largely taking a backseat to what’s happening in the recreation.
That works for a cinematic recreation like this one, however at the price of a score that would’ve been really deep and memorable.
There are brilliant spots in this soundtrack, however they’re just too few and far between, and perhaps that’s the actual tragedy here.