In Space, No One Can Hear You Groove – A Review of Prey’s Soundtrack
From the opening notes of Mick Gordon’s Prey soundtrack, it’s clear that the award-winning Australian composer has caught lightning in a bottle again. Fresh off the pulse-pounding adrenaline fest that was the DOOM soundtrack, Gordon’s latest foray into video game composition is probably most notable for its restraint. In stark dichotomy to the no holds barred nature of DOOM’s soundtrack, the sounds of Prey are very deliberate and methodical.
Fans of Gordon’s more aggressive work on Wolfenstein: The New Order, DOOM, or Killer Instinct may find Prey to be a surprising addition to his discography, but even amidst the echoing guitars and moody synthesizers, Gordon’s trademark frenetic musicality still has its time in the sun. Also in contrast to DOOM is the length of Prey’s soundtrack; those who, like myself, felt that DOOM’s sprawling 31 track saga was well worth the $9.99 price tag may initially find Prey’s score a bit of a letdown at 14 tracks (only 10 of which are actually attributed to Gordon). But what Prey’s soundtrack lacks in quantity it easily makes up for in quality. Standing beside sci-fi greats like Jerry Goldsmith and James Horner, Gordon delivers a brooding science fiction score, blending the best parts of old school sci-fi soundtracks like Alien and Predator with modern production techniques to make Prey’s score a worthy successor to the games and films that inspired it.
The soundtrack begins with a blanket of guitar arpeggios underscoring “The Experiment”: various synths wander in and out of the listener’s ear, setting the stage for the alternate-future sci-fi world of Prey. From these opening strains we are pulled into the mysterious world of TranStar’s Talos I space station, carried through its damaged corridors by Gordon’s thoughtful guitar melodies and adept musicianship.
Soundtrack highlights include the plucky piano tones of the tense “Typhon Voices,”the Morricone-esque “No Gravity,” and the somber “Alex Theme,” the latter of which perfectly captures the feeling of gazing out into the stars. Gordon’s very deliberate guitar movements on “Alex Theme” deftly recall an equal sense of entrapment and wonder. The claustrophobic space station and the expanse of the cosmos both find themselves represented in the listener’s ear. A soft whir whispers throughout the track, like an alien voice gently trying to get your attention.
The prime highlight of the soundtrack may also be its most tonally-dissonant piece. In harsh contrast to the moody tracks of the rest of the score, the secret 80s movie anthem “Everything Is Going To Be Okay” hits all the right notes (literally and figuratively) as the backdrop for Prey’s opening credits sequence. A light arpeggio and thick synth chords carry the player on a majestic helicopter ride through San Francisco.
The music of Prey is a living, breathing part of Arkane’s Talos I space station. With only a handful of musical themes, Gordon delicately builds upon the world they’ve created, bringing out the soul of the station. Those with any doubts about the game’s musical implementation after playing the demo need not be worried (Gordon himself hoped the final build would reflect better on his work), the full release of the game fixes all of the quirks that manifested in the demo. Mick Gordon has proved time and again that he can craft a marvelous soundtrack, and it’s good to see that Arkane did it justice. So plug some headphones into your oddly geometric space helmet, and enjoy the subtle synths of brooding guitars of Mick Gordon’s Prey Original Soundtrack.