The Dark Eye -Chains of Satinav- Collector's Edition Soundtrack :: Review by Max
The Dark Eye: Chains of Satinav (aka Das Schwarze Auge: Satinavs Ketten) marks the latest entry of a long-running German role-playing franchise, developed by Daedalic Entertainment. Rather than feature Dynamedion (Drakensang, Drakensang: The River of Time) once more, the title was scored by Daniel Pharos and Dominik Morgenroth, known together as the Knights of Soundtrack. An album featuring the music was enclosed with the German Collector's Edition version of the game.
The Dark Eye: Chains of Satinav features a score that is very mellow in tone and stays reserved in the background of the scenery. In this regard, it adopts a similar approach to traditional adventure games; it's heavily inspired by classic soundtracks of the genre like The Longest Journey or Black Mirror, ironically some favorites of composer Daniel Pharos. Consistently, the album is by no means a happy one the music relies on a somber and foreboding environment. This is portrayed perfectly in the title theme "Satinavs Ketten", where beautiful female vocals, harp arpeggios and strings create a slow and dreamy atmosphere of melancholia and lyricism.
The rest of the music is very similar and features a recurrent palette of acoustic instrumentation, mostly guitar, harp, and strings. "Die Reise" is an interlude, written in the same manner as the opener. It's one of the tracks that showcases the talents of the instrumental soloists, Kathy Lestrémau on violin and Angelika Voigt on harp. These mechanics are developed further in area themes like the graceful "Folge dem Fluss" or the tranquil "In den Höhlen". "Die Blutzinnen" starts on a sinister note with deep strings and violin solo, but soon develops into an emotional banquet of guitar and violin, paired with some vocals.
To be honest, the composers didn't really reinvent the wheel here on this score. Even the town themes "Enqui" and "Andergast im Winter" feature just the same oppressed and repetitious nature of the rest of the score. The only action cue "Hinterhalt" manages to keep up the atmosphere by developing a theme of tension and fright, but without really shifting the music. It's music like these is definitely fitting its purpose without beeing to obnoxious or obtrusive. However, such tracks don't tend to stand up well out of context, in contrast to the more exuberant town and action themes on previous titles for The Dark Eye franchise.
If the previous track descriptions didn't remind you of Funcom's The Longest Journey, take a listen to "Der Traumpalast" with its choral and chime developeent, or the climactic and foreboding "Visionen des Sehers". Close to the finale, "Der Krähensturm" is definitely one of the darkest tracks with its horror-esque soundscape of squealing strings. The soundtrack ends with an beautiful orchestral reprise of the main theme, but it's bittersweet that this is the only track here that displays the full range and power of the orchestra. It wouldn't have hurt the experience to have more of this kind of track between the lines.
The music for The Dark Eye: Chains of Satinav is definitely a mixed bag for customers. While it fits the gameplay and its scenery nicely, there is simply too little variety on this album. This makes for a lengthy, almost boring experience for stand-alone listening, even with a rather short playtime of not even half an hour. If you have the game, then you can enjoy the music to its fullest potential. If not, don't bother to hunt it down just for the soundtrack or even buy the Collector's Edition, as the bonus soundtracks is not that special with a few exceptions.
Overall Score: 6/10