Descent Soundtrack (Mac), Johann Langlie / Brian Luzietti / Larry Peacock / Jim Torres / Tim Wiles, 1995
Among the titles that ushered in the new era of 3D gaming during the mid-1990s, Descent sometimes gets a bit overlooked. Two years after Doom, Descent took the depiction of three-dimensional spaces in video games to the next level. Through the framework of a space flight simulator, Parallax Software gave players six degrees of freedom to shoot their way through a series of off-world mines. Another first was the use of (almost) exclusively 3D graphics to depict the game’s world, instead of bitmaps. It was no wonder that Descent was able to pull off such technical feats – its co-creators Mike Kulas and Matt Toschlog had previously worked on another revolutionary 3D title: Ultima Underworld. Critical acclaim and strong sales figures rewarded Parallax Software’s daring, leading to a number of ports and sequels – and enough fan devotion to crowdfund a prequel decades later!
Tracing the creation of the Descent soundtrack is a mildly confusing affair, thanks to the game’s various ports. The original PC release came with a MIDI soundtrack composed by Ken Allen, Brian Luzietti, Larry Peacock, Leslie Spitzer, Jim Torres and Tim Wiles. Some of these artists had previously worked on other titles by publisher Interplay, while other composers don’t seem to have had much of a career in games outside of the Descent franchise. The score was heavily influenced by industrial music bands of the day like Nine Inch Nails, Skinny Puppy and Front Line Assembly, with this particular genre reaching its peak of popularity in the mid-1990s. The Mac and PlayStation ports released later on used CD audio, including arranged versions of some of the PC MIDI compositions, as well as licensed tracks by Nivek Ogre and Type-O Negative.