Music

As can be expected from a game with such a strong focus on existential questions, Planescape: Torment has a distinctly sombre soundtrack, courtesy of Mark Morgan. The majority of the music is dark, oppressive, eerie and/or melancholy. Just listen to the thoroughly chilling and grandiose track which accompanies the introductory cinematic (“Intro Movie”) to get an idea. Along the same lines, the eponymous theme for Sigil feels like danger lurks around every corner, while the Mortuary theme is downright disturbing, with its muffled ticking undertones, and the scrapings and whispers which accompany it, woven together by a ghostly flute. There are also less successful examples, such as the dour, part-oriental, part-military “Smouldering Corpse Bar”, which sounds like it’s dragging its feet and hammering nails at the same time, or the decidedly post-apocalyptic, discordant theme for Curst.

Forever faithfulAside from this, the soundtrack also features one of the most iconic pieces of RPG–or, at least, WRPG–music, namely “Deionarra’s Theme”, a beautiful, profoundly sad melody, which sounds somewhat like glimmering cold water. It also reappears very frequently  as a passing theme in other tracks, creating a feeling of unity. A few of these instances include the cavernous-sounding “Main Theme”, which plays on the introductory screen; the ululating “Sigil Battle”, which accompanies all combat within Sigil; or the doleful “Fortress of Regrets”, which is the theme of the final dungeon. Other noteworthy character themes include the defiant “Trias” (which, along with “Deionarra’s Theme” makes another appearance in the dirge-like “Bad Ending”), or some more surprising ones, like the crepuscular “Annah’s Theme”, with its wistful mix of piano, flute and vocals, rather uncharacteristic of her personality. There’s also the decidedly raunchy, irreverent “Morte”, which is probably the most humorous track in the game and fits him like a glove (or would that be a hat?). “Fall-from-Grace’s Theme” is another good fit, with its shimmering, airy xylophone trills, gentle clarinet and piano, as is the diametrically different, subterranean “Vhailor”. “Nordom’s Theme”, on the other hand, despite featuring the expected mechanical sonorities, is too dark to be entirely fitting, in my opinion.

Other highlights include the surprisingly upbeat “Neutral Ending”–it almost sounds more cheerful than the “Good Ending”–, or the decidedly bellicose “Curst Battle”, which just makes you want to grab the nearest sword. I’m of two minds about “Civic Festhall”: on the one hand, it’s both surprising and refreshing to hear what is essentially a flight of baroque fancy in a dark fantasy game, but on the other hand, it’s a bit too tinny for its own good. Overall, I would say that, while the prevalent gloom of the music certainly gives the game a characteristic signature, at length, it runs the risk of blending together somewhat. Besides, for all its serious underlying themes, PST does also feature a lot of humour (even though it’s mostly macabre humour), and there aren’t enough occasions for the soundtrack to fully showcase that.

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