[dropcap size=big]A[/dropcap]s I mentioned to my editor, I am by no means a music connoisseur. Still, when I was presented the opportunity to review Sunless Sea’s soundtrack, I knew I had to do it. After reviewing the game and writing a game guide for it, I heard quite a bit of its music just through gameplay alone, so a lot of my evaluation was achieved before I’d even downloaded the songs off of Bandcamp. But when I booted up that playlist, I felt even more in awe of the beautiful, haunting soundtrack. I had played a lot (and I mean a lot) of Sunless Sea, but I hadn’t quite explored every area yet, so there were certain tracks I had missed. Also, it just makes a huge difference to focus on the music by itself versus just hearing it in the background as you play.
First off, the Sunless Sea soundtrack is remastered, with many tracks extended, so it may sound a bit different than what you actually hear in the game. The best example of this may be “Storm, Stone, Salt” where the bassoon comes in much clearer and richer than it did in-game. Subtle touches are brought to the fore in the music, adding more to the ambient tunes.
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There’s a heavy European influence in the tracks–understandably, as your character begins in Fallen London–but there’s a lot of other influences as well, including an obvious Middle Eastern bent from “Khan’s Heart“.
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In contrast, “Submergio Viol” and its violin solo was the track that most invoked the archetypal image of English 18th century nautical adventures for me.
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The Sunless Sea OST is moody, dramatic, and very atmospheric. It’s the kind of thing you can turn on when you want to relax and go to sleep, or maybe when you’re doing detailed work and need to concentrate, but still want that buoy of inspiration to keep you going. I’ve often had Sunless Sea’s soundtrack on while I write, preferring it to some of the other instrumental music that I have access to. The production quality is really well done, and props have to be given to Mickymar Productions for their top notch job. They made effective use of various instruments (lots of bassoon, violin, and cello, to name some), blending them well with small new age touches (some reverb, very minimal electronic sounds) to create a unique and sensuous musical journey that takes your mind’s eye through a dark and treacherous world.
I really can’t say enough good things about this OST. Sunless Sea has great gameplay, but it wouldn’t be complete without these powerful sounds to accompany its haunting world. If instrumental music is your kind of thing, then you really ought to pick up the Sunless Sea soundtrack. If you’d like to preview the soundtrack first, you can listen to it on Bandcamp, and I highly encourage that you get it there, as Failbetter Games receives the highest return on that site. If you’d rather buy it elsewhere, you can currently purchase the OST on Amazon, Google Play, and iTunes.