Ask a player of Heart Machine's new Hyper Light Drifter to describe the game in one word, and it would most likely be "mysterious." Also "gorgeous" and "challenging!" Rich Vreeland, better known as Disasterpeace, helps create that sense of mystery with his haunting soundtrack. I talked with Rich about the challenges of this new score, as well as his work on Fez and how the mood of his soundtrack for the horror film "It Follows" followed him into Hyper Light Drifter, which he calls the "spiritual successor" to Fez.
Hyper Light Drifter is beautiful, intense and inspired by the animé films of Hayao Miazaki and classic games including Zelda: A Link to the Past.
For the ending of Fez, creator Phil Fish wanted a sad piece, and suggested Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. Instead Rich created a many-layered remix of Chopin's mournful Prelude, Op. 28/4:
Making the music in a game into an interactive experience became a side project for Rich. He taught himself coding, and created January, a game in which the player creates the music by catching snowflakes of different shapes.
Disasterpeace's games, including Fez and Mini Metro, have some mind-bendingly complex puzzles. Rich sees his music having a crucial role in helping the player figure out the games. He says, "I think as a player you can have a very Zen experience...you don't fully comprehend what the mechanic is, but there's a learning by association (with the music), where over time you can predictably make the right choices and solve puzzles, and you're not even sure why. It's like magic, almost."
Interview song list:
Vignette-Corruption, The Gauntlet, Last Guardian, Panacea, Chimera, Acropolis Falls
Jim Guthrie: Nature of Things n Stuff