A massive instrumental score for a massive open world.
I can’t state strongly enough how great Steep is. Open world games have become a tedious grind of fetch-quests and radiant nonsense, so the likes of Steep – and other alternative takes on the open world formula, like Forza Horizon 3 – have really revitalised the genre. There’s just something really fresh and exhilarating about taking on an open world from a sports perspective (as opposed to yet another po-faced RPG).
One of the keys to open world games is their music. Whether that’s 65daysofstatic’s procedurally generated math rock accompanying No Man’s Sky or Grand Theft Auto‘s bottomless pool of real-world tracks intermingled with game-world exposition, it would be foolish to underestimate the importance of the audio backdrop to endless wandering. It’s why any track that made it onto Fallout 4‘s Diamond City Radio playlist had to survive being played around the Bethesda offices on a loop for weeks without pissing people off.
Unlike most snowsports games – which follow the GTA model of licensed, thematically appropriate tunes – the Steep soundtrack is in the No Man’s Sky mould. It’s instrumental, sparse, and is seriously post-rock.
And that’s brilliant, by the way. Not enough games have post-rock OSTs, and the Steep soundtrack is an absolute belter. Put together by a European collective called Zikali, the sweeping soundscapes and musical shapes make the perfect accompaniment to carving pistes and cutting rooster tails through the powder.
“The musical artistic direction consists of the encounter between a post-rock formation (drums, bass, guitars, synths), to which is added an orchestral dimension (strings, brass) and a set of original instruments (hang drum, duduk) that define the sound identity of the project. The energy of the rider is represented by a modern and electric sound associated with the action; And the orchestra characterizes the different places (summits, narrow corridor or wide spaces) by the variety of its modes of play, bringing a strong emotional dimension.” – Zikali
The Steep soundtrack is out now. It’s been released by Sumthing Else Music Works, a specialist record label that exists purely to license and distribute video game soundtracks, and you can buy it now from their website.