Little Orpheus Soundtrack, Jessica Curry / Jim Fowler, 2020
Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture had been another commercial and critical success for The Chinese Room, but the following years saw the company going through a rough patch. Thankfully, after having to lay off all staff in 2017, directors Dan Pinchbeck and Jessica Curry bounced back soon enough when Sumo Digital acquired The Chinese Room, leading to 2020’s Little Orpheus. An Apple Arcade exclusive, Little Orpheus received acclaim for its substantial gameplay, outstanding presentation and original concept. The game follows the adventures of Ivan Ivanovich, tasked in 1962 with travelling inside the earth’s supposedly hollow interior to confirm whether it is fit for colonisation. After Ivan returns from his mission three years later, a tough-as-nails general interrogates him about what happened during his absence – and tries to figure out whether the fantastical tales of Ivan’s adventures could possibly be true.
As with other titles by The Chinese Room, Little Orpheus was a high-concept piece, channelling a number of influences and ideas. As such, it required a soundtrack that thoughtfully supported the game’s aesthetics and narrative. Jessica Curry had delivered these kinds of scores for several previous Chinese Room games. In the process, she had emerged as one of video game music’s leading composers through her impressively subtle and emotionally rewarding Dear Esther and Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture soundtracks – the latter deservedly netting her a BAFTA Award. After those games’ meditations on life and death, the Little Orpheus soundtrack was an opportunity for Curry to dabble in more colourful and brighter moods, with the game taking inspiration from Saturday morning B-Movie serials and classic adventure movies like Flash Gordon, Sinbad and The Land that Time Forgot.