Tomb Raider’s music compositions have been crafted to reach amazing levels of greatness (TR3 and Anniversary’s soundtracks remain true music score masterpieces to me). But Peter Connelly’s work for Angel of Darkness is just out of this world. No other video game music score has really achieved that kind of emotional level. As I replayed the game, several hypotheses came to me about its purpose in the game.
So, ladies and gentlemen, please bare with my approximate mastering of English and let me share my theories on Angel Of Darkness Music Score with you.
Watching the video of this article is recommended to fully appreciate the analysis.
AOD’S MAIN THEME : A PREMONITORY DEPICTION OF AOD’S SCENARIO
I think I could write an entire article just about that track. It is such a mesmerizing emotional musical journey .
It starts very dark and enigmatic with light orchestration (Lara’s arrival in Paris, feeling a bit lost and confused to meet again with Von Croy).
0:22 = chord change to a much more tensed feeling with strong dark brass and vibrating strings (Lara’s confrontational meeting with Von Croy)
0:35 to 0:39 = strings climax to reach a big cymbal crush (Von Croy’s murder)
0:39 to 1:00 = pulsating drums with strings and brass stress accents (Lara is confused, not sure of what happened, forced to run away as she is chased by the police)
1:00 to 1:20 = reference to the classic TR1 theme motif, much more fierce and epic vibe (Lara finally finds clues for the murder and gets some confidence back so she can go tomb raiding again, searching for the Obscura painting in the Louvres’ archeological dig site)
1:25 to 2:00 : very soft, romantic feel with delicate string swoopings and much lighter tone (Lara’s encounter with Kurtis Trent, a timeless parenthesis in the story)
2:04 to 2:08 : back to the musical theme of the beginning of the song (Lara is getting back to the crime scene, there is a reminiscence of her initial emotional state when she last met Von Croy).
2:08 : 2:45 music theme changes quickly as Lara is now back to her brave and fierce persona. Chord progressions are bit brighter as she is now on the right path to discover the truth and is now teaming with Kurtis a very important bonding for Lara).
2:45 to 2:51 : chord change to a much darker and sad feeling similar to the beginning when her friend Werner is murdered. Final fight against Eckhart is tough, Kurtis another important man for Lara, seems to have been killed leaving Lara sad and disoriented)
2:52 to end : enigmatic last theme that leaves a “to be continued” feel (Lara takes the Chirugaï and understands her quest is not over and she walks, determined to solve this mystery)
Far-fetched ? Well maybe a little, but you have to agree that for it makes sense for the most part.
MUSIC AS A METAPHOR FOR LARA’S EMOTIONS
Unlike the other Tomb Raiders, I believe that Angel of Darkness is using music to depict the emotions that Lara is going through in the entire adventure.
Soft-Abient-Electronic music : Lara’s focus and drive
Military Drums : Lara’s adrenaline gauge
As the game progresses, strong orchestral music only gets used for punctual adrenaline moments such as boss fights. It is interesting to note that almost all boss fights soundtracks feature military drums, an instrument that might represent Lara’s accelerating’s heartbeats as she fights.
Where are the world-music influences?
Angel of Darkness is the only game in the Tomb Raider franchise not to feature world-music instruments in its music score. The reason for this is probably linked to what I just said above. In other TRs, the music is meant to reflect the environment, the events happening. So when Lara travels to India, Italy, Ghana or Egypt the music plays accordingly to make the player travel to these places. In AOD, the aim is not to use the music to make you travel to these places but to grant you access to Lara’s emotional journey.
There is no need to work on super-realistic face expressions or to include endless dialogues to have access to Lara’s emotions. An amazingly crafted piece of music serves as the best evocation of Lara’s feelings, and as it is more subtle, I believe that Lara’s adventure feels much more relatable that way.
Let’s hope that the next Tomb Raider will have a similar approach.