The less said about the knee-jerk reaction from the Gaming Bros about ReMI’s graphics, the better. But, just for the record, if you don’t at the very least respect what Rex and team delivered…
… then I have no patience for you.
There is a certain reverence in the art style that, while different from anything we’ve previously seen, still inherits a number of facets from the old games.
That ReMI successfully manages to look modern while maintaining a callback to the 1990 perspectives and EGA color palette is more of an achievement than it is given credit for. And that you don’t really think about it is a testament to how immersive this new art style is. If what is on screen can pull you in to a degree where you don’t need to think of what is going on—that is proof in the pudding of a job well done.
You can trace a very direct 32-year-old line from the EGA palette to modern graphics capabilities. Read up on EGA if you want to get into elTee levels of deep knowledge.
They’re not flashy; they don’t try to woo you in with dramatic zooms. Instead, the world is warm and inviting, with a subtle ambiance and a lush setting. Somehow even the icy tundra of Brrr Muda feels suitably Caribbean. All through thoughtful designs that reflect the core of the game as a whole.
That the music follows suit should not surprise anyone. And even with the three OG composers working in COVID-mandated isolation, the music is stylistically consistent throughout. It’s not backed by large live orchestras nor Casio-powered MIDIfests, but rather the mid-sized-band sound you’d expect from Bajakian, Land, and McConnell’s jam-band background. (There is an all too short segment about that in the PsychOdyssey documentary. It’s well worth watching, if only to see the three guys together in the studio.)
As much of a microcosm of the music as I can come up with is—fittingly—the last ten seconds of the theme.
It’s easy to suggest that it is a rework of The Secret of Monkey Island, but the build-up to the end crescendo is as unexpected as the coda at the end. (I have no idea if that’s actually called a coda.) And it comes down to the thread going through ReMI: The old mixed with the new. As I’ve gotten older, I have increasingly stopped trying to rank anything—as my mind changes too often to make any of it count—but I can, with some certainty, say that this is my favorite version of the theme. The coda-that-I-don’t-know-if-actually-is-a-coda might be short, but it’s as ballsy as it’s surprising. (Footnote: Worth noting is the different theme that played in the trailer. It, too, is great, and I’d love a clean version of it.)
I know, it's a broken record, talking about this old-meets-new, but it is so prevalent throughout the game that it is hard to ignore. And Land's ultra-ambitious Mêlée suite is a perfect example of it. There are echoes and callbacks to what we heard in the first Monkey Island but laid out in a lush new soundscape that carries through the island. All mixed in with new ideas. It's fitting when The SCUMM Bar's
O Good Ale, Thou Art My Darling mixes into a shredding guitar track. (I have no idea if Bajakian is behind that, but I like to imagine so.) It's an extreme example, of course, but it illustrates the... Well, I'll stop repeating myself for a bit.
I didn't think McConnell’s Brrr Muda suite screamed Monkey Island at first, but after a couple of listens in, something occurred to me: The commonly warm cues from the previous games were deconstructed, and rebuilt into a frozen take on them. A yin to a yang, two sides of the same coin, or what have you. Had The Secret of Monkey Island been set in the Arctic, this is what the game would have sounded like.
And in true tradition, the composers pilfered found inspiration in the standards. Not unlike what was done for The SCUMM Bar, McConnell pulled out a Norwegian folk song,
Per Spelmann, for the Brrr Muda town hall. A comparison with the vocalized
I'm here for it. As I am for LeShip. And Monkey Island. Big Whoop. The bass victory-ride through the Mêlée forest. It's as perfect of a soundtrack as I could have hoped for. In fact, download the fan mix if you haven't, courtesy of our friend BillyCheers.