After getting a Nintendo Switch in the summer I’ve been sporadically playing The Legend of Zelda: BOTW, slowly taking in the enormous, living world. The game has just won game of the year at The Game Awards so I thought I’d highlight a small element of the OST which has emerged me in the game’s setting though not waned over time. For some more detailed analysis a fantastic post can be found here by Jason M. Yu http://jasonyu.me/breaking-the-loop-botw/
Due to the encouraged exploration of BOTW, composers Manaka Kataoka and Yasuaki Iwata have created a minimalist palette for when moving around the open world with sporadic piano, strings, pitched percussion and hints of brass colouring the soundscape. Spending a lot of roaming time on horseback these two tracks have accompanied a lot of my journey:
Both tracks leave room to breath, think and ponder, yet carry a sense of excitement, anticipation, serenity and movement with the high strings emerging and the piano shifting from short stabs to fast runs across the stereo image. One moment in particular stands out just before 1:05 (and 2:30) on the ‘day’ track, a low thud hinting at more foreboding times. A similar sound can be heard, off-beat also, at 2:34 in the ‘night’ track, though this feels more in keeping with the darker pattern in that version. Interesting, the ‘night’ version features a much more active melody with a faster, viola-register line. Just in these two loops BOTW conjures up journeying feelings – loneliness, wonder, trepidation.
Rarely do open-world games manage to musically translate atmosphere without complete silence or contrasting ‘epic’ heavy drums/brass. Without a soaring horn line in sight, BOTW’s battle music often uses irregular rhythms, trumpet stabs, glitches and mixed percussion to create tension, more akin to John Adams’ music, particularly Roadrunner from Chamber Symphony, than Game of Thrones/Lord of The Rings scores.