Heart of Darkness
Composed, Conducted, Orchestrated, and Produced by:
The Sinfonia of London
LABEL & RELEASE DATE
Regular U.S. release.
Buy it... if you're an established collector of Bruce Broughton's
scores and seek all of his ambitious fantasy and adventure writing.
Avoid it... if you expect your video game scores to boast a fully
robust orchestral presence, for this early entry is sparse on power and
Heart of Darkness
: (Bruce Broughton) Created by
Amazing Studio in 1998 and distributed by Interplay for Windows PCs and
Sony PlayStations, "Heart of Darkness" was several years in the making.
First conceived in 1992, the purpose of the game was to mimic a
Disney-style adventure while the player controlled Andy, a boy who lives
a normal life until he blasts off in his tree house spaceship during a
real solar eclipse and lands in the treacherous Darklands. There, he has
to rescue his dog (along for the ride) and battle the Master of Darkness
on his way to finding the Heart of Darkness portal back home. While
little Andy navigates these linear levels of activity, cute "amigo"
creatures assist him, and if you're not careful, your little boy could
be crushed, devoured, incinerated, or drowned in surprisingly graphic
fashion. The portrayals of death are among one of the more interesting
aspects of "Heart of Darkness," with the killing of children under the
control of the player becoming quite rare in the evolving days of
content ratings. Also of note is the fact that "Heart of Darkness" was
the first computer game for which an original orchestral score was
recorded. While the album release of the music claimed that the score
was recorded in 1990, this fact is impossible given that the game's
development was first undertaken in 1992. Several years of delays make a
recording date sometime in 1996 more realistic, competing that year with
Joel McNeely's "Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire." But despite the many
years of delays in finishing the game and then securing a distributor,
"Heart of Darkness" can claim to have the first ever orchestral score
for a video game, regardless of the fact that other games with
orchestral music beat it to storefronts. As mentioned before, the
creators of the game wanted it to feature the same qualities of a Disney
product, and it's fitting that Bruce Broughton was hired for the
assignment. The game received positive reviews despite a shorting
running time, though it was never a success with the general
Broughton admitted at the time that he had never
encountered a computer game before, and under such circumstances, his
efforts in recording music for one are quite impressive. There was
enough money to hire 55 members of the Sinfonia of London, a group with
which Broughton was familiar. The sparse depth of their performance is
the score's greatest weakness (along with a few blatant errors in the
brass section early on the album), but considering that most games at
the time featured crappy electronic MIDI nonsense, this was definitely a
step up. Still, the recording is nowhere near Michael Giacchino quality,
and subsequent orchestral game scores would put "Heart of Darkness" to
shame. The structure of Broughton's score includes four major themes
over its 35 minutes that span the distance between evil and comedy,
heroics and fear. The title theme isn't as full as many of Broughton's
others, yet it is still adventurous enough for the imagination and
journey of the main character. The initial theme on album (over the main
titles) is that of the villain, and it adequately portrays the mystery
and magic of the Master of Darkness. It falls one step (or minor chord)
short of becoming a gripping villain's theme, though the primary themes
together undoubtedly work wonders in the game. The other themes
represent secondary characters of the story and adopt a light-hearted,
fluffy, and comical attitude. These sequences, with the cute
performances of the tuba and French horn, will remind of the middle
sections of James Horner's The Land Before Time
. The bouncing
tuba and marimba theme for the amigos in particular will leave the most
lasting impression. Overall, however, it is difficult to truly
appreciate this music outside of the experience one would get by playing
"Heart of Darkness," for the recording isn't robust enough to stand well
on its own. It is still a momentous effort for a video game, of course,
and Broughton collectors will surely be impressed by the opening cues.
Its enhanced features, including a demo of the game, only worked on PCs
(Macs would eventually get their revenge in other ways). It's a fun,
noisy, and refreshing score, but a bit underwhelming when put in
perspective. *** @Amazon.com: CD or
For Bruce Broughton reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.3
(in 10 reviews)|
and the average viewer rating is 3.17
(in 3,806 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.
Total Time: 34:41
1. Main Title (1:48)|
2. Andy's Mission (4:44)
3. Big Mistake (2:28)
4. Andy's Friend (1:42)
5. Space Island (5:42)
6. Vicious Servant (0:36)
7. Back to the Lair (1:45)|
8. Meteor Destroyed (1:52)
9. The Plot (0:53)
10. Andy's Victory (4:51)
11. End Credits (8:20)
The insert includes the following note from Broughton:
"Recorded in 1990, the score to 'Heart of Darkness' bears the distinction of being
the first orchestral score ever
produced for a CD Rom game. The decision to go in that direction was made by the
Amazing Studio team in Paris who created the game. When I first saw a few
work-in-progress scenes, Eric Chahi asked me if I had ever seen another game and
if I knew what I was looking at. I had to admit that I hadn't. "Well," he said,
"if you had, you would be very impressed."
It was a prescient thing to say. I was soon to be very impressed not only by the
work itself, but by the level of loyalty, commitment, technique and attention
the creative team gave to the game, to each other and to the many people who
were involved in its making.
The music accompanies the many computer-animated scenes that propel the story of
Andy and his dog, Whisky, through the boy's fear of the dark. The game is played
between the scenes, each level having to be mastered before the story can
proceed. Though it is not so apparent in this recorded assemblage, several of
the scenes are mere bridges; others are dramatically very intricate, lasting for
The music is in an animated/adventure style, full of humor, energy and large
dramatic gestures. There are several themes that play throughout: the dark,
pounding Master of Darkness theme that opens the score; the expansively buoyant
adventure theme that represents Andy; the tuba and marimba theme for the goofy
but warm-hearted Friends; and the insistent English horn motif that accompanies
the Evil Helper. But to really enjoy the score, you have to play the game."
This enhanced CD includes a demo version of "Heart of Darkness." To play the game
under the best possible conditions, consult the recommendations below.
IBM PC or 100% compatible computer.
Windows 95 with 486 DX2/66 MHz processor and 16 MB RAM.
Or Windows 98 with Pentium processor and 16 MB RAM.
Or Windows NT 4.0 (service pack 3 or later) with 75 MHz Pentium processor and 24
MB RAM.1 MB PCI or VLB SVGA graphics card (DirectX-compatible), sound card
(DirectX-compatible), Double-speed CD-ROM drive (with sustained data rate 300
KB/sec) and 84 MB available hard disk space.
IBM PC or 100% compatible computer with 90 MHz Pentium processor or better.
Windows 95, Windows 98 or Windows NT 4.0 (service pack 3 or later) with 32 MB
RAM. 1 MB PCI SVGA graphics accelerator card (DirectX-compatible), 16-bit stereo
sound card (DirectX-compatible), 4X or better CD- ROM drive and 84 MB available
hard disk space.