So, I’m composing the score for an indie game: Absent by James Fenton at ‘fentonfilms’.
Well, actually, I’m arranging and orchestrating the score, as James has a lot of the tunes already written in simple midi form. I will, however, be composing a few original tracks too, which I’m very excited about!
Absent is a puzzle/point-and-click adventure game, reminiscent of the old, classic graphic-adventure games like Monkey Island and Day of the Tentacle.
The game centres on Murray, a regular student, and the disappearance of pupils at his college. Things get serious when Crystal, a friend of our protagonist, also vanishes; but Murray seems to think that what took her was not of this world… It’s in the player’s hands to solve puzzles, follow the interactions of Murray and his college friends, Eve and Steve, and to discover the truth behind the disappearances. Is The Reaper to blame..?
An exciting synopsis! So what exactly does the score comprise of?
Well, James’ current music is full of bold melodies and motifs for the characters, as well as a sense of mystery and tension. Besides composing a few original tracks of my own, it is my job to bring these pieces to life with a strong ensemble of instruments and dynamics, and with some bright arrangements.
The game is thriving with mystery and suspense, and also a bit of comedy. Whilst I want to capture this mood in the game, I don’t want it to sound too dark and serious - that’s not appropriate here. Instead, I want to create a sense of wonderment and ambiguity, as well as innocence. I want to create a memorable sound, highlighting the motifs with a strong projection, and to create an identity with the instrumentation.
I’ve chosen to use a celesta and harp amongst the brooding strings, to create some hope within the darkness. That is the theme of the game, and that is what I want to portray in the orchestration. Besides the sinister sound of the strings, and the church organ that appears occasionally, I’m focusing on a playful woodwind section to highlight the sense of mystery amongst Murray and his friends. To me, the choir singing the main theme is an iconic piece in the game.
James has recently released a trailer for the game, and hopes to have the full game released for free by the end of the year. There are talks of releasing the soundtrack for free too, but that’s not concrete yet.
You can hear my arrangements and orchestration in the trailer, which contains a varied mix of some of the tracks. Currently I’m still orchestrating the score and I have a lot of work to do. I can’t wait!