Fabian Del Priore
- Game website
- Composer website
Selected tracks are available on game disc
Developer Funatics' Northland, the unofficial sequel to Cultures 2, tried to combine elements of strategy and adventure into an interesting story-driven genre mix. The colourful and cute graphics, solid gameplay mechanics (comparable to Blue Byte’s The Settlers series) and a fitting score all added up to a neat package of fun.
The score of composer Fabian Del Priore is both effective and enjoyable. The music fits the game very well and is completely at ease with its graphics and playing style. Most of the tunes have a light-hearted and almost ballad-like feel to them with themes and rhythms to hum. Similar to other strategy games, all of the available folks have their own music associated with them. The Byzantine people feature a more eastern-sounding theme while the Vikings sound more European. Accompanying these more ambient tracks are the battle cues, one for each race which is basically the ambient theme in a more fast-paced action arrangement.
One of the best things about the score is its use in the game though. Most strategy titles suffer from a great repetition of the music no matter how long the tracks are. Del Priore was able to avoid that problem by creating a very dynamic soundtrack that would react to in-game events seamlessly. The music would not only react to changes from peaceful situations to outbreaks of battles but also to the current condition of your population or town respectively. If your newly built-up town, for example, was doing well and the people were happy the music would reflect that with an equally happy tune that could just as quickly turn sad and melancholic as your city’s status dropped. But those aren’t the only dynamics the game’s score has to offer. Each individual track also has variations in itself with instruments fading in and out dynamically so that the same background piece is played in hundreds of different styles. It is a welcome feature and really helps to make the music an integral part of the gameplay as well as achieves a perfect match of the score with its visuals. In fact, I haven’t heard such a dynamic score for a strategy game since and Del Priore has certainly created something special which he can be quite proud of. Unfortunately, there’s only one track per folk which means that it might become repetitive in spite of its variations. The next step would be to compose about ten of these tracks per people each featuring its own dynamics.
As much as this score is great in what it does, there is one big downside as well and that’s, like in many cases, the overall sounding quality. Not the best at the time of its release, it’s now quite outdated and may sound a bit too midi-like at certain points although the melodies themselves haven’t aged a day.
All in all, Northland is a very well implemented soundtrack that captures the spirit of the game and expresses it musically. From the heroic main theme to the varied tracks for each people it does what a good score should do – underscoring the events of the game while emphasizing its overall feel.