Although there are a couple of familiar tunes (the trailer features a new take on Drunken Sailor), most of the songs are written by veteran Rare composer Robin Beanland. “We really wanted a wide range to accompany different emotions,” says producer Joe Neate. “If you’re feeling scared or entering a forbidding part of the world, then maybe you want to play an eerie, haunting shanty. Alternatively, maybe you want to play a upbeat, fun one to counter the game tone.”
Ostensibly, there’s no gameplay benefit to playing songs, just like there’s no benefit to going below deck and getting drunk on grog (which renders your character clumsy and uncontrollable for a short space of time). Partly it’s about building a sense of camaraderie within the crew, a necessary component in such an intensely co-operative design. But what Rare also wants to do is provide almost a theatrical imaginative space, somewhere players can have fun, improvise and make believe together. In this sense, there is perhaps more in common with creative titles such as Minecraft, where the impetus is on player activity rather than player progression. It’s fascinating and it’s brave, and these are incredibly welcome attributes in this era of identikit open-world adventures.