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inFAMOUS: Second Son by Brain, Marc Canham, and Nathan Johnson (Review)

posted Mar 31, 2014, 8:52 PM by Koray Savas   [ updated Apr 8, 2014, 11:20 PM by Kaya Savas ]

inFAMOUS is one of Sony's best exclusive franchises available on PlayStation. Developed by Sucker Punch, Second Son is the third installment and its first iteration on the PS4. While the story regrettably keeps its distance from the previous two games, allowing new players a fresh introduction to the universe, the series' trademark sound design and score make a triumphant return. The music for these games has always been a fabric of the gameplay, utilizing harsh rhythms and harmonies over more melodic writing to give the action a bursting pulse of energy that few games have. Continuing the tradition of a big band mentality, Second Son features music by Brain, Marc Canham, and Nathan Johnson. Canham and Johnson are new to the franchise while Brain returns, having previously worked on inFAMOUS 2.

Despite the eclectic talent involved, the composers fine-tune their styles to fit into that unique inFAMOUS sound. Everything blends seamlessly into a singular sonic identity that brings the character of Delsin Rowe to life, while still retaining a sense of individuality. Brain gives us another dose of his free form action material, while Canham fleshes out the character moments, leaving Johnson to add some air and gravitas to the exploration and down time in the game. Canham's music, in particular, has this great Western sound associated with the conduits that works in a thematic sense without being a specific set of notes (hear "Henry Daughtry," "Brooke Augustine," and "Abigail Walker"). Nathan Johnson brings the industrial sound he developed on Looper, providing some really unique and dissonant percussion rhythms in "Freedom And Security" and "Serial Tagger." The whole score peaks and falls in a really messy but natural way. It all works on its own, but benefits much from how it feeds off the visuals and gameplay. Other highlights include: "Second Son," "Double Crossed," "Wavelength," and "Alibi."

Second Son is a natural continuation of what came before, but the music lacks some of the subtlety and nuance that inFAMOUS 2 did so well, sometimes feeling like a giant wall of continuous sound. However, composers Brain, Marc Canham, and Nathan Johnson find an ebb and flow that truly amps the narrative and setting, creating a rigorous listening experience that only an inFAMOUS score can deliver.