reviewed by Cissy Suen
When I first heard “The Light In Us All”, I thought I was listening to a classic folk track, but then enters a distinctive electric followed by the signature melody that defines Planet Coaster. This isn’t your orchestral symphony to Final Fantasy or your cute ocarina on The Legend of Zelda – it’s soft, happy and has the catchiest whistled tune on a roller coaster game. Planet Coaster is the management and simulation video game released last Thursday, exclusive to Microsoft Windows.
I’m the farthest thing from a gamer but what caught my attention from Jim Guthrie and JJ Ipsen soundtrack was this unique musical aura it created. It didn’t try to mimic intense scores or throw you into a purely synthetic 8-bit electronic world. It was whimsical and possessed the rare ability to influence emotion in such a subtle manner that consciously, one would naively pass it off for background music. Guelph native, Guthrie, has worked on previous soundtracks, namely for the game Sword and Sorcery and the films Indie Game: The Movie and a Short History of the Highrise. Regardless of the project, Guthrie effortlessly captures the nature of the work with his expertly layered tracks.
‘Something organic’, ‘Made by humans for humans’, Guthrie nails exactly what the designers hoped for with the light grass root tabs of “Breakfast of Champignons”, the country rock strums of “With Friendship & Peace”, and the elegant piano on “Dream. Build. Repeat.” Guthrie uses layers compositions to accentuate the organic elements and emphasize the real life imagery of the story an characters. On “Dream. Build. Repeat.” we’re met with gorgeous strings and a light shaker that sends players on their safe and comfortable journey. “Aspect Imaginarium” is built upon simple guitar progressions set in succession and introduced with fantastic combinations of powerful brass, ringing cymbals, and subtle keys. Guthrie clearly manoeuvres his folk background within the realm of the RollerCoaster Tycoon successor with ease.
Changing pace, we get a more sombre side of the game with tracks like the introspective “You’ll Know When It Turns Invisible”, the pensive but hopeful “Theories Of An Eager Heart”, and my nerdy favourite “Heisenberg’s Entryway To Matrix Mechanics”. The latter stands out with it’s use of a slower time signature to pace the dichotomy between the higher octave strings and tenor keys. The title track “You, Me, & Gravity” completes the soundtrack’s storyline by returning with a calmer rendition of the theme.
I’ve been listening to this soundtrack for the past week now and with every run I discover some new aspect of the musicality that has been so intelligently interwoven by Guthrie and Ipsen. With each replay, the tracks become more distinct and begin to take shape as characters on their own. The beautiful soundtrack stands tall and strong as its own body of work separate from the game.
Top Track: “Small Hands Make Big Things”; “Aspect Imaginarium”; “Heisenberg’s Entryway To Matrix Mechanics”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)