The Tunic Original Soundtrack is pinnacle chill. This score from Terence Lee (aka “Lifeformed”) and Janice Kwan brought the perfect aesthetic touch to the colorful indie darling game Tunic. This game has many Zelda-esque traits, intentionally so, but the soundtrack is a clear departure from the Koji Kondo repertoire.
And yet… if you’ll indulge me, I’d like to share the story of how I discovered the Tunic Original Soundtrack.
Typically, especially in the indie game scene, I’ll learn of the music by way of the composer’s history. And while I am familiar with Lifeformed, having enjoyed his soundtrack for the action platformer Dustforce years ago, I didn’t even know there was a new Lifeformed score on the way. Nor had I paid attention to news on the game itself. Somehow, March 2022 came and went and I’d not been introduced to Tunic in any capacity.
However, I happen to be a long-time fan of Twitch streamer Andy Laso. While Andy streams many games, he is best known for his expertise in playing Randomizer mods of the classic game The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. When you’ve played variants of the same game hundreds, maybe thousands of times, hearing the same soundtrack can get old regardless of how good the music is. The LttP community, of course, found a way to mod the game so that all background music played in the game could be substituted with custom music tracks. I would often hear Andy swap the base soundtrack with a Twilight Princess orchestral variation, or a simple swap of the LttP OST with its corresponding tracks found on the Cadence of Hyrule – Crypt of the Necrodancer soundtrack. This made watching Andy’s streams all the more enjoyable.
And then, one day, I heard the most chill ambient electronica ever. And somehow, it meshed with the gameplay of LttP so well that it served as a great substitute for Koji Kondo’s music while sounding nothing like it. Andy kept using this same music pack, day in and day out, and he kept mentioning it being “Tunic.” For a few days, I thought “Tunic” must have been the moniker for an arrangement or remix artist. Finally, I let curiosity take me to Google, and I learned the glorious truth.
All this to say, while most people who enjoy this music may learn of it through the game Tunic, some like myself may hear this album and think of it as an alternate soundtrack to the game that inspired it: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (Randomizer).
When I listen to the Tunic soundtrack, I lose track of time. It’s a calming, though somewhat trippy, experience, requiring no psychoactive chemicals to work its magic. Two of the earliest songs, “Memories of Memories” and “The Weight of Rain,” could run on loop for hours and I’d be none the wiser. However, I am grateful for the tempo, instrumentation, and tonality variation throughout this soundtrack. Chill electronic music can somehow become robust and powerful while retaining its overall warmth, as evidenced by tracks like “Amphibious Assault” and “Epochalypse.”
The soundtrack manages a consistent quality, holding your interest across its surprising length: three hours. You’re looking at a mean average of three minutes per song, with 60 tracks total. However, as a few short jingle tracks skew the average, the median is closer to four or five minutes. My own middling attempts to compose music in this style have taught me it takes great talent and knowledge to write long-form music like this without it becoming boring, monotonous drones.
All told, Terence Lee and Janice Kwan knocked it out of the park. Even as I have gone ahead and played Tunic for myself, recognizing it as an excellent game in its own right, the game is as fortunate to have this accompanying music as the music is to have the game to be associated with it. Don’t miss this one. The warmth of the synths, the winds, and the piano will draw you in, and you will be better off for it!