Review Summary: 意志の火、戦国の本質。
Hidetaka Miyazaki's long awaited Shinobi simulator "Sekiro" has finally been released. With its arrival journalists and gamers everywhere are pouring into the game, searching for secrets and discussing every aspect of the game; except for one thing, the soundtrack. With Yuka Kitamura now being given the keys to the kingdom, she sets out to create a soundtrack to capture the essence of a tumultuous time in Japanese history, the Sengoku Period.
Indeed, while Sekiro contains many elements of spirituality and fantasy, it is a rather subtle expression of the Sengoku Era and its soundtrack is no different. Gone are the violins and choirs of Kitamura's previous work, she has replaced them with traditional Japanese instruments from the biwa to the kokyū and Shamisen. These instruments are no mere gimmicks however; they are used at slow and soft places in order to present the dark and somber atmosphere of the game itself. At various points the soundtrack will speed up for certain moments such as Genichiro Ashina
featuring heavy percussion as a Shakuhachi can be heard in the distant background. One of the best tracks comes in Sculptor of the Dilapidated Temple
, in it a Hyōshigi claps at various points as we hear a Shamisen play at a slow pace. Despite Sekiro being an extremely fast paced game, much of the soundtrack itself is slow, soft, and methodical. Yet these elements do not clash in the slightest, and on their own, they create a beautiful and harrowing atmosphere.
Unlike the Dark Souls soundtracks, Sekiro's soundtrack is not limited to bosses and special moments. There are tunes for every aspect of the game, from silent walks among the areas, to fierce battles with generals and creatures. These tracks all generally use most of the same instruments, but each track has its own style and identity. For example Strength and Discipline
is extremely fast paced with pulsating shime-daiko and traditional chanting. This is offset by tracks such as Great Serpent
which are slow with the buildup as a continuous string section plays with no pause.
With Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
, Yuka Kitamura has crafted a masterpiece both in video game music and in Japanese artistry. Despite clocking in at over two hours, not a second of this soundtrack feels boring or like filler. As players begin to comb over every part of FromSoftware's new hit game, they will find themselves enraptured in it's world. But it is because of Kitamura that we are able to immerse ourselves in such a wondrous world, for without her work, the atmosphere of this game would ring incredibly hollow. It takes a true talent to capture the essence of a time period and translate it into music, but Kitamura has achieved such and with incredible results. Of course this game is not without it's own hint of irony. If shadows die twice, then music lives forever.