When fellow RPGFan caretaker John Tucker tapped me to talk about the soundtrack to Bik, a spacey adventure game with a retro/sci-fi bent, I wasn’t sure what I’d be hearing. After spending some time with it, it seems that talking about it as an abstract experience is probably more appropriate than a discussion of its musical merits or technical execution. This is an album in which one track flows into the next, with synth that seems to reach deep into the past even as it fills the mind with images of a spacebound future.
That isn’t to say it’s not technically sound or isn’t a pleasure to listen to. As one song runs into the next, I’m reminded of how I felt when listening to games like Another World and Flashback. A song like “UFO Jailbreak” seems like I’m reliving some lost, western-developed sci-fi Sega Genesis game, and the plunky not-quite-bass punctuating the track throughout makes me feel like I’m cautiously sneaking around the Future (TM).
In fact, much of the album feels like a child of Genesis-era audio sensibilities extrapolated to fit a gray, space-age extreme. This is exemplified in a song like “Bik Longing,” whose sounds seem to channel the iconic imagery of Blade Runner’s Rick Deckard convalescing in his apartment as narrow strips of muddy light filtered in. Things tense up with “Distract the Umarians,” another understated but bassy track with distorted synths that seems dripping with foreboding. “ShirShir Attack” seems like it wouldn’t be out of place in the 16-bit X-Men games.
There’s a lot of interesting experimentation with how the kinds of sounds at work here can be combined to create the intended atmosphere. For example, “Boss Battle” features mutilated static and beeping sounds to create a sense of creeping, spiderlike danger, and it works very well. This is a composition that fits into and draws from a canon of classic sci-fi influences. It’s perhaps a little difficult to discern any one track from the next in a continuous listen, and it doesn’t feel like the most original music to accompany space adventuring, but it’s both consistent with the setting and pleasant to listen to. If you feel like there’s a part of you that can’t live without a new soundtrack to back your dystopian galaxy-hopping, you could do a lot worse than Bik.