The Dig – “A River Canyon” (Michael Land)

September 14, 2010

When I started listening to The Dig (1995), I asked myself, “Is this REALLY a game soundtrack?” Because it doesn’t sound a THING like one – it sounds like a film score of all things! Every piece is orchestrated, with sweeping tunes that capture the magic of a mysterious asteroid that leads us to an even more mysterious planet. Though the graphics retain their mid-90s LucasArts pixelness, the score is indeed timeless, with each track possessing a magical quality through orchestrations courtesy of Michael Land (Monkey Island series, Full Throttle, Outlaws), a score that sounds like it would fit perfectly into a Star Trek motion picture (one of the early ones, like the first film). To me it defines the epitome of a one branch of what the game score can be, the type of orchestration that composers were trying to accomplish since the 1980s, an orchestrated score that feels more like a film soundtrack than looping game audio.

The Dig – “A River Canyon” (Michael Land)

My favorite from the album is “A River Canyon,” a choral piece sung by Emily Bezar with lazy, floating strings and the crystalline singing of…angels. There’s a majestic purity to this place, an immensity of time bearing down through the canyon walls as pearly waters bubble down the bed, as they have done for millennia. Timeless, but still alive. Maybe a yellow raft is pitched and the explorers sail wonderingly down its diamond shores – what wonders of the lost civilization must lie its banks?

Well ok, I think the composer ‘cheated’ a little in The Dig OSV, a special disc that came with the special edition of the game’s release. The original soundtrack seems composed of short 1-minute clips that are here strung together into one great orchestral score. That isn’t to say the pieces aren’t here, it’s just they are arranged perfectly within the soundtrack. Of course I can’t say for sure as I haven’t yet played it… Though now I want to even more.

Me and The Dig go back a long way. It’s a game that I remember playing as a demo on my old Mac (we’re talking OS6 I think) and falling in love with it. I was in middle school at the time, and this was offered through a book club. It also showed up in stores in a special retail bundle. And I never DID pick up the game. Now it’s available on Steam. Actually, I have a copy. But for some reason I haven’t played it yet. It seems like a classic sci fi piece along the lines of The Martian Chronicles or Ender’s Game, with a hint of Rama. Who knows? Maybe after I finally finish with Metroid and dive into StarCraft II I can give this a shot. But stranger things have happened…


One comment

  1. You’ve never played The Dig? You really should try it sometime. It’s a much more serious game than any other LA adventures of the time, but I think it’s one of the best. Of course, that’s assuming you can tolerate the terrible introduction, but after the first 20-30 minutes it picks up nicely.

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