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The Banner Saga 2 by Austin Wintory (Review)

posted May 16, 2016, 12:35 PM by Leo Mayr

For some reason, Austin Wintory's name was not on my radar until he composed the outstandingly excellent score for last year's Assassin's Creed Syndicate. Ever since then, I have been working my way through his scores, finding new, exciting music wherever I looked. One of the highlights was his score to The Banner Saga, a fun score set in a cartoonish viking world, so when I heard Wintory would be working on the sequel, I could not have been happier.

The Banner Saga 2 follows the style of its predecessor, though this time around, the brass instruments feel a little more dominant. The score is relying heavily on percussion to determine the pace and while at times it can feel a little overused, it works great for most of the score. Wintory's use of vocals and lyrics is nicely integrated into the score, though I really am not a fan of actual lyrics in a score as, in my opinion, they mess up the musical storytelling quite a lot. Music can take so many shapes, display so many emotions and give the listener just the right feeling, so why abandon all that and tell a story through actual words? Some tracks have a choir in the background that perfectly contributes to the rich variety of moods Wintory has created for this score.

The music manages to achieve that sense of adventure while also having a dark and tragic tone. While most of the score feels slow and somwhat sad, the bursts of dramatic action bring some excitement to lighten the mood. The intense action is carried by percussion and relies mostly on brass instruments making the experience quite unique. Wintory managed to find a perfect way to combine the past paced, dramatic action pieces with the slower, more emotional pieces to create a fun journey through this land of cartoonish vikings. With the emotional pieces, Wintory adds a few stunningly beautiful moments to the otherwise dark atmosphere of the game. The songs with actual lyrics despite being a few too many for my taste fit into the score rather nicely, making the album an overall fun experience.

As a huge fan of Austin Wintory's work, I can only say that this score is just another example of his talent. While being an engaging videogame score that handles musical storytelling and a consistent narrative really well, the music can just as well stand on it's own. With The Banner Saga 2, Wintory has made a worthy sequel to one of his greatest scores and at the same time created a memorable listening experience.