ALONE – Rob Allison


Original Review by Alan RogersALONE (full)

Music written for “traditional” video games has come a long way in recent years, with many titles having elaborate orchestral scores. Another exciting aspect of game scoring is the quality of synth-based soundtracks written for games for small, hand-held devices such as smartphones and tablets. Rob Allison’s synth score for the 2-D side-scrolling endless runner game, ALONE, is a fine example of what is being done for the smaller games today. In ALONE, developed by UK-based game studio Laser Dog, the player has control of a small spaceship that zips through a world littered with various obstacles, where you try and amass as many points as possible before being killed. ALONE has had great press reviews, particularly for its gameplay, its minimalist visual design and its fast-paced electronic soundtrack.

Laser Dog-based co-developer and composer Rob Allison has come up with an excellent score, writing a series of electronic, beat-heavy tracks that fits well with the fast-paced nature of the game. The album jumps straight into the action with “Evacuate”, an eighties-influenced synth pop track and it sets out the tone for the rest of the album as a whole. “Evacuate” is an excellent opening to the album, full of energy and setting the tempo for the majority of the music to come. Also, Allison’s choice of synths makes the sound of the soundtrack immediately likeable; there’s no harshness to the tone of the score that can plague some synth game soundtracks. The use of a particularly strong beat framework is a recurring element throughout the score but it is particularly prominent in tracks such as the aforementioned “Evacuate”, “Fly” and “Hyperspace”. To mix things up a bit, the propulsive beats form a driving backdrop to Twin Peaks-styled waves of synth chords in “Fly” and recurring synth pop elements (“Hyperspace”) echo back to the opening of the album. Allison’s music offers variety throughout with some fantastic synth progressions mixed with hypnotic rhythm ostinato patterns in the second cue, “Void” and then “Escape” brings a more industrial feel to the score with the use of beat elements featuring harsh-sounding synths, percussion and the introduction of a melodic motif.

The soundtrack to ALONE is very much about helping to enhance the frenetic pace of the game play and to make the game as much of an immersive experience as possible for the player. The five tracks heard in the game itself transition easily from one to the other and feel like a large 15-minute track and the variety between and within each tracks makes for an enjoyable listen. The remainder of the album include tracks such as “Menu”, a slower, more ethereal synth track summarising a number of elements heard in the score itself, building in intensity and anticipating the start of the game and “Void (Ringtone)” which is an excellent chiptune version of track 2. ALONE isn’t only about maintaining a specific adrenaline-fueled tempo: “Menu” is a good example of how the music can be modified to take the player into the game when it is loaded (I am assuming that “Menu” is heard before the start of the game itself).

Rob Allison’s score is an excellent example of the quality of music being produced for smartphone games at the moment. It’s immediately likeable, interesting and varied: so much so that I regularly repeat individual tracks or the entire album when I am listening to it…the music is that infectious. ALONE can be streamed on Spotify or can be purchased from Laser Dog’s Bandcamp page HERE and is highly recommended.

Rating: ****

  1. Evacuate (2:17)
  2. Void (3:33)
  3. Fly (3:18)
  4. Escape (2:38)
  5. Hyperspace (3:05)
  6. Menu (1:10)
  7. Bonus – Laser Dog (0:36)
  8. Void (Ringtone) (2:16)
  9. ALONE Trailer (1:28)

Running Time: 20:21

http://laserdoggames.bandcamp.com/ (2014)

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Comments

  1. The soundtrack is an irresistible mix of vintage eighties (Amiga) gaming soundtracks mixed in with nineties techno effects. Totally my cup of tea!
    I don’t know the game (and to be honest, although I try now and again I find I have neither the time or the patience to immerse myself like I did in my teens and twenties, so it’s very unlikely I ever will try it), but the score sounds like a worthwhile purchase for me!

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