Uncharted 4 A Thief's End: OST Review
Review by Neil Mc Allister
Composer: Henry Jackman
Being one of the most prolific composers in recent time for his work on the likes of Captain America; Winter Solider and Civil War, Big Hero 6, X-Men: First Class etc. Henry Jackman is more than well suited to compose for the highly cinematic and action-heavy finale to the Uncharted series, with this being Jackman’s second score for a video game (the first being Just Cause 3). Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End ambitiously tries to capture the feel of a summer blockbuster; something along of the lines of a more emotionally heavy Indiana Jones, and out of all the main entries in the series is the most dark and serious of them in tone.
The titular track “A Thief’s End’ is primarily focused around a string section ostinato and melody which is the main motif for other themes in the game, played in a hurried and also melancholic nature. Fans of the previous Uncharted titles will appreciated the classic Uncharted theme making a brief appearance just after the breakdown section. “A Normal Life” is often used as the theme of Nate and Elena’s challenged relationship in the story of Uncharted 4, consisting mostly of some acoustic guitar and piano arpeggios with some light swells in the string section and wind section for it’s short duration.
“Cut to the Chase” is often used to accompany the action sections. As per usual, it uses a violin ostinato to rack up the intensity, accompanied by numerous percussion instruments, such as bass drums and bongos. The tubas also back up the ostinato, with the trumpets providing the triumphant melody, as Nate prevailing against the waves of enemies. “Once a Thief” is often used in the stealth sections of the game, with loads of tremolo playing from the string instruments, some foreboding but restrained playing from the drums and brass section, and the sound of a ticking clock to mess with the player’s nerves.
“Those Who Prove Worthy” is filled to the brim with ethnic instruments such as the gamelan. It gradually builds up the tension to classic chase scene music, with a wall of percussion eventually accompanied by a string section ostinato. “The Twelve Towers” also contains some interesting instrumentation with the use of a Japanese Pan flute to add intensity to amongst the usual interplay between the string and brass sections. “At Sea” continues this trend, with the use of rain sticks as well to create a foreboding atmosphere to the watery terrain in the respective chapter.
“Marooned” is more ambient than other tracks, with the EQs altered on the violins to sound more watery and some infrequently heard synth in the background. It eventually switches to sleath section, with the percussion and the string section played at a frenetic pace. “Meet Me in Paradise” is another battle section accompaniment, with the drums and tubas providing the backbone of the rhythm, and the string section switching from a rhythmic role to a melodic role more than once. “Sic Parvis Magna” contains some gentle piano playing and wind noises , with the rare inclusion of a female choir; somewhat Danny Elfman-esque in it’s style and one of the more tender tracks featured here. “Avery’s Descent” is not unlike a piece of music from a horror music, mostly revolving around an arpeggio that ends on a flat fifth, gradually layering more string instruments around it.
The Epilogue theme nicely wraps up everything nicely as an re-arrangement of a “Thief’s End”, with Jackman undoubtedly successful in creating a cinematic soundtrack to bring closure to Naughty Dog’s run on the Uncharted series.
Written by Neil Mc Allister
Neil is a Graduate of BIMM Dublin and Griffith College where he studied music and sound design. He is also a freelance composer and musician.