Minecraft OST: Sandbox Soundtrack Extraordinaire
I have a cold; one of those nasty head colds that make your throat feel like sandpaper and your head feel like it’s full of cotton balls and jello. So logically, when my thinkability is impaired, what do I do? Sleep lots, drink plenty of liquids, and play simple, relaxing games. This is why I’ve played Minecraft (the XBox version) for an appalling amount of time over the last week or so. During that time, I’ve had many opportunities to listen to and appreciate Minecraft – Volume Alpha, the soundtrack – which is a great example of a sandbox soundtrack.
Like a platformer soundtrack, Volume Alpha needs to be infinitely loopable without getting boring or feeling repetitive. However, Minecraft is a sandbox: it is an open world in which the player is given a set of tools and no objectives, so they can do whatever they want. This means that unlike the average level-based game, there is generally only one level*. There are no cutscenes or boss fights, so there are no songs that need to be uniquely tense or terrifying. There is only Sunrise, Noon, Sunset, and Midnight, and they’re all interchangeable. Similarly, while there can be bad guys, there don’t have to be; this means that the soundtrack needs to work for someone building a castle alone as well as someone dungeon crawling and fighting off zombies.
C418, the album’s artist, has done a great job of accomplishing this. The music is lovely, ambient, and relaxing, often with simple piano line. I think of it as a ninja soundtrack – it comes and goes as it pleases, often going for minutes without you realizing that it’s there. Then you get distracted by the game again, and the music goes on without you. The Minecraft OST is well executed and lovely, and it’s ideal for a sandbox game with no end, no beginning, and no reason to stop playing.