Aquaria Soundtrack, Alec Holowka / Ian Holowka, 2007
By 2009, the indie game resurgence had already begun to make its mark on the gaming market at large. However, indie games’ impact on game music took longer to materialise. Existing digital distribution channels like iTunes and other online music stores didn’t cater to these often tiny projects. In this environment, the release of the Aquaria soundtrack was a watershed moment for Western indie game music. At the time, a 2CD album release for a Western indie game soundtrack was unheard of. Publisher Infinite Ammo’s courage was duly rewarded. Like the game, the Aquaria soundtrack met with an enthusiastic response from critics and gamers alike.
One thing that helped the Aquaria soundtrack break through is that the game placed music front and centre. It all starts with the ‘verse’, a twelve-note melody that the game’s developer and composer Alec Holowka came up with. Using the verse theme throughout the soundtrack, Holowka realised it was actually well suited to become a major plot point and gameplay mechanic.