The Humble Indie Bundle V is worth it for the soundtracks alone

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You probably already know about the Humble Indie Bundle V. In fact, you may have already played all of the games included in the set: Psychonauts, Limbo, Amnesia: The Dark Descent, Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP, and Bastion. I've played most of them, too.

But you should still buy the package, and here's why: The soundtracks to each of those five titles are included in your purchase. And those tunes are as worthy as the games themselves.

One huge reason these five indie darlings have had such success is that they create unique aesthetics and settings rarely found in big-budget titles. They evoke a sense of "place," as one Bitmob writer recently put it. And the music is a huge part of that. 

I've highlighted a track from each game below. Take a listen and see what I mean. 


Bastion — Spike in the Rail

Composer Darren Korb calls the sound of Bastion's world "acoustic frontier trip-hop." All of that is on display in this track: twanging banjos; buzzy, amplified slide guitar; and a synthesized drum beat that propels the player forward. The mix reflects the game's singular feel; it's a world of magic and pastel-colored beauty tinged with a weary Western drawl. Nothing like it.

Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP — Lone Star

This is one of S&S's first tracks accompanying real gameplay, and it's a doozy. I just can't get over those syncopated fifths in the bass line on top of the mid-tempo drum groove. The minor key in the melody adds a sense of mystery, menace, and purpose. It perfectly sets up the quest for the Megatome…and what comes after. 

Amnesia: The Dark Descent — Back Hall

Through most of Amnesia, what you don't hear is far more important than what you do. But when you come to this brief section, the sparse guitar melody and mournful choir provide a much-needed respite from the horrors of Brennenburg Castle. Just don't turn the volume up too loud. You might have a heart attack when the next unspeakable horror appears.

Limbo — Alone

Perhaps more than any game on this list, Limbo's soundtrack serves to communicate emotion directly to the player. It has to; the gameplay and graphics are so minimalist that sound has to take a larger role. Of course, the music is minimalist, too. This track wouldn't feel out of place on a Radiohead or Stars of the Lid album. You can't help but let the echoing, repeating tones envelop you.

Psychonauts — Meat Circus

…OK, I may have just put this track in to give everyone trauma flashbacks. I (shamefully) haven't played Psychonauts yet, but I've heard how annoying this level is. I imagine the jaunty woodwinds and polka beat of this song would drive me crazier than the characters in the game. You tell me, folks. 

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