Night in the Woods is a fantastic little game that has a lot of music. Volume 1 covers the first half of the game and clocks in at just a little over three hours. Volume 2 is no slouch either, featuring 49 tracks and a runtime of over two and a half hours. Both are excellent, and you should listen to them.
Volume 2 technically covers the second half of the game, though some tracks actually make their first appearance before the midway point. The music has the same retro-esque, shoegazing quality that we saw in Volume 1, and the tracks are just as catchy and fun to listen to. Some of my favorites include the chill-yet-melancholy “The Bridge” and the appropriately dreary “Rainy Day,” while tracks like “I’m Going to Break Something” and “The Husker Bee Ballroom” add some wacky and occasionally hilarious energy to the mix.
Things get a bit spookier on this album, in keeping with the game’s plot taking a turn for the supernatural toward the end. Tracks like the excellent “Graveyard Investigations,” the creepy “Someone’s Coming,” and the perhaps self-explanatory “Ghost Hunt” make it musically clear that things are getting serious. This trend continues and escalates until the climactic but relatively simple “Eide Fight,” before resolving in a handful of tracks, including the piano-heavy and aptly named “Snow.”
Just like Volume 1, theme plays a significant role on this album. Character themes for Angus and Beatrice make appearances in “Angus’ Story” and “Finding Beatrice.” The former actually also contains the theme from “Early Longest Night,” and the latter is a standout track in my humble opinion, both as a piece of music by itself and as accompaniment for a pretty emotional sequence in the game. Beatrice quickly became my favorite of Mae’s friends, and the resolution of their troubled but ultimately heartwarming relationship was perhaps the best part of the game for me. “Finding Beatrice” plays while, as one might expect, Mae is searching for her friend after once again putting her foot in her mouth and inadvertently hurting Bea’s feelings. Despite the distressed guitar synth and the upbeat rhythm, I feel like the desperateness of Mae’s search comes through perfectly, and with it the sense that even though they have issues, Mae and Bea’s friendship is important to both of them.
As with the previous volume, it’s not just character themes that weave their way through the album. Several other prominent themes from Volume 1 make their appearance as well. For instance, motifs from Volume 1’s “Home Again” and “Back to the Holler” — among others — show up in “The Long Fall,” “Graveyard Investigations,” and “Snow.” The theme from Volume 1’s “Durkillesburg” is present in “Trailer II,” “I’m Going to Break Something,” and “Shapes.” And a whopping five separate riffs from earlier in Volume 2 and Volume 1 can be heard in “End Credits,” making the track serve as a sort of microcosm of the soundtrack as a whole, which is quite fitting when you think about it.
I’ve mentioned this before, but I love this aspect of music: hearing a theme for the first time, and then finding it reused later on in different ways and unexpected places. I’ve always felt that crafting strong themes and weaving them in and out over the course of an album to create a cohesive soundscape is the mark of a truly talented composer, and Alec Holowka definitely fits the bill as far as I’m concerned. Not only is his music thematic, it’s also just plain enjoyable to listen to, and there is a lot of it; this is what makes the Night in the Woods Original Soundtrack so excellent in my opinion. Check out our samples, and if you like what you hear, considering adding both Volume 1 and Volume 2 to your collection. There’s even a Volume 3, which contains some special additional music, but we’ll get into that in a later review.
Oh, and Gregg rulz, okay.