It’s a pretty beautiful thing when you find a new, gorgeous, and nostalgic game that’s got an equally gorgeous soundtrack to match. West coast composer and artist, Bill Kiley, has teamed up with artist and developer, Ryan Carag (who goes under the alias of Raiyumi) to create two games: The Valley Rule and A Kitty Dream. Both games use two different approaches to create a unique package of visuals and audio: surreal and eerie concepts of exploring a dream world for one and being trapped levels below life for the other, both containing atmospheric pads and sound design teamed up with chip sounds in complimentary ways.
A Kitty Dream was the first game I played, and is available for free here. It was created for the 2014 Nitrome Game Jam, and I suggest you all play it while taking a listen. From the get-go, we’re immersed into this grey and morose 2D world, playing the character of a cat. Your task is to embark on an adventure to explore, and your motions to get through the game are paired up with classic white noise sweeps commonly found throughout note trackers. The music at the beginning, which is entitled as ‘Milky Land’, is slow and ethereal. Soft melodies are complimented by delays, and everything sits cohesively with dreamy visuals.
The game’s other track is called ‘The Wind Through Your Fur’, which, while still quite ambient, is complimented by a kit paired with reverb to emulate an 80s ballad. The track has a hopeful vibe to it (that D- chord really sat well with me). I love how much percussion can add to an arrangement, and love the technique of adding it in after going through the track without it.
The Valley Rule also contains two tracks, and the game itself was created in 72 hours for the LD 29 Game Jam (you can play, also for free, here). The first track, ‘Waterfall’, really proves that Bill has a signature sound — soft pads, shimmering melodies, a harp-like bass line, and light percussion that comes in part way through the track. I’d also be curious as to what he used for the crying synth sound that plays prior to the chimes coming in. This track impeccably matches the beautiful aesthetics of the game — the overhead trees seem to sparkle with what reminded me of stationary lightning bugs as our heroine takes the lead through the underground.
The game’s final track, ‘The Red Room’, is completely different from the other three tracks presented on this Bandcamp release — it is dark, with harpsichord and chip that battle each other in a desperate manner. One of my favorite parts is how a triangle wave is being used for the bass line — classic.
I got into audio by playing games, and it’s really refreshing to hear a soundtrack that emulates what’s going on visually with ease. I’m so glad I came across these two lovely and unique games, and I hope this team continue to work together. It certainly seems like they’ve both got the same vision, and can hear what the other sees, and vice versa. I’m definitely going to be keeping an eye on these two, and you should, as well!
Until next time,
The Unicorn Princess