A Void Hope (Waveshaper)

What is it?

A Void Hope is a Swedish computer game produced by Elden Pixels, about – according to its website – “a tormented couple as they try to decipher reality from nightmares and evade the shadowy threats lurking in the dark”.

The interface is old-school, mimicking the pixelated style of the early 90s, and firmly placed in the platform puzzle genre. Mostly, though, the game is lifted by a film noir ambiance, through nocturnal tableaux pervaded by carefully selected light sources. It was released on multiple platforms, like Steam and Switch, on February 29, 2024.

The score is by Swedish composer Waveshaper, one of the foremost proponents of the synthwave genre. Waveshaper has released a string of delightful studio albums over the years, but hasn’t ventured into media scoring very often, an exception being the 2018 film Videomannen, which he did with compatriot Robert Parker and was one of the first scores we ever reviewed here on Celluloid Tunes. He also provided music for a segment of the 2018 racing game The Crew 2.

How is it?

While I personally haven’t played many computer games since the 90s (back then, I also preferred point-and-click adventure games over platform puzzles – Scandinavians can check out this episode on 90s videogame music), this one seems particularly geared towards my generation. A throwback interface also requires a throwback synth score, so Waveshaper was an inspired choice.

This score is very much an extension of the composer’s studio albums, but with a slightly darker, “Carpenter-esque” slant. Not quite hardhitting enough to be darkwave, but occasionally flirting with the synthwave offshoot genre. What sets it somewhat apart from his previous work are these long, airy chord modulations, often in the lower register, imbued with minor-mode melancholy. The first part of «Longing», for example, contains an almost Jean Michel Jarre-like wistfulness (think Jarre in «Chronologie, Part 3» mode).

The energy is upped a notch with the fifth track «Perspective», eventually settling in a luscious 4/4 groove, complete with undulating high register melody lines. The same applies to the album’s highlight track, «Determination», which – per the track title – enters a very determined meter switch about midway.

While A Void Hope may not have the striking melodies or the life-affirming 80s synthpop vibes of Waveshaper’s studio albums, it demonstrates the composer’s dramatic flair, with more explorative features and a more defined mood. I’ve said it a hundred times already, but I really wish he was afforded more opportunites to score films and other media.

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