Hob Soundtrack, Matt Uelmen, 2017
With their two Torchlight titles – particularly the excellent Torchlight II – developer Runic Games had established their credentials in the action RPG space, even managing to hold their ground against all-mighty rivals like Diablo III. Their next title was Hob, which shifted focus towards an open-world adventure that bore a clear debt to The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. The world of Hob is a giant machine, a contraption made of myriads of levers, dials and pulleys that the title character must utilise to repair and cleanse the land, which has been corrupted by a mysterious force. Hob’s concept of its realm as a titanic mechanical contraption is appealing and the perfect set up for many visual wonders and intriguing puzzles, although reviewers also pointed out the game’s more frustrating aspects, for example its combat.
What critics also highlighted were the game’s aesthetic strengths – its gorgeous visuals, but also its soundtrack by veteran Matt Uelmen. Having scored Runic Games’ Torchlight titles, Uelmen had celebrated a resounding return to form with Torchlight II. That soundtrack had felt like the apex of Uelmen’s meticulously composed trademark style that mixes electronics, orchestral and rock elements, setting his fantasy scores apart from the (often homogenous) competition. For Uelmen, Hob was an opportunity to expand his sound palette once more, as he was actively looking to avoid genre clichés – both those heard on other fantasy scores and his own common stylistic traits.