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Skyscraper Under Construction (night) - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/27/2014 22:41:55

This track is not the same as “Skyscraper Under Construction (abandoned),” which I have also reviewed, but it’s not a whole lot different. The sound of wind is more subdued in this track, and there are more noises. In particular, you can hear sounds that strike me as heavy footsteps, as of construction workers. However, there are no jackhammers, piledrivers, no compressed-air hammers or screwdrivers. It doesn’t really sound like there is much construction going on here, which reduces this track’s value in comparison with “Skyscraper Under Construction (abandoned).” I don’t really see a need for both in a soundscape library. I’d probably opt for this one over the “(abandoned)” version.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Skyscraper Under Construction (night) - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
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Skyscraper Under Construction (abandoned) - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/27/2014 22:28:23

This track — which should not be confused with “Skyscraper Under Construction (night)” — doesn’t do much for me, but it does deliver what it promises. Mostly you hear the sounds of wind, of metal striking metal (like rivets falling on girders), and a few quasi-musical tones that could be distressed metal swaying in the wind or even car horns from down below. If you need to stage some kind of monster/killer hunt in an unfinished skyscraper, this track will do a good job of setting the mood. Don’t take the “under construction” part of the title too seriously. There are no sounds of active construction in the track.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Skyscraper Under Construction (abandoned) - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
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Submarine Interior - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/27/2014 22:08:07

This track delivered exactly what the name led me to expect: white noise (as of engines), pinging, and the occasional sounds of metal striking metal, or metal bending. The only thing missing is people. This submarine sounds like it’s deserted — which makes the track kind of spooky. Great for a “monster aboard the submarine” type of scene, or the exploration of an abandoned submarine; not so great for a wartime scene where the PCs are the submarine crew.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Submarine Interior - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
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Calling Ithaqua - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
by Gus D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/24/2014 04:03:32

Another excellent track from Ambient Environments.

SPOILERS AHEAD!

It includes real chants from the Inuit people, and also SFX of a Snow Storm. This track is excellent to be played in a loop during the summoning of Ithaqua, and there's another track "Ithaqua Returns" that would work as the climax of the ritual (with the very Wendigo appearing at the end). These two tracks would be excellent for any scenario in which Ithaqua makes its apparition, like the Walker in the Wastes campaign by Pagan Publishing, but even if the Inuit chants are heard I don't think that this could limit these tracks to actual summoning rituals. I think that the chants could be considered as "literal" chants or only "ambient" sounds depending on the Keeper's needs. For instance, this could be used in other scenarios (like "Cold Dead Hand", from The Unspeakable Oath 23) in which Ithaqua is not summoned by the Inuit.

SUGGESTION I'd also welcome a track without Inuit chants: only with arctic snowstorm and wind SFX, plus the roar of The Wendigo heard louder and louder, indicating that it is nearer by the minute. Something to be played when the Characters are trying to flee a region that is going to be devastated by Ithaqua.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Calling Ithaqua - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
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Ithaqua Returns - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
by Gus D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/24/2014 03:54:07

Another excellent track from Ambient Environments, and it was published only days after I suggested them to create such a track! Of course the amount of work behind this track suggests that it had been under development way before my suggestion, but this was absolute synchronicity!

SPOILERS AHEAD!

It includes real chants from the Inuit people, and also SFX of a Snow Storm and the very roar of The Wendigo! This track is excellent as the climax of a Call Ithaqua ritual, and there another "Calling Ithaqua" track that could be played in a loop before this one. These two tracks would be excellent for any scenario in which Ithaqua makes its apparition, like the Walker in the Wastes campaign by Pagan Publishing, but even if the Unuit chants are heard I don't think that this could limit this track to actual summoning rituals. I think that the chants could be considered as "literal" chants or only "ambient" sounds depending on the Keeper's needs. For instance, this could be used in other scenarios (like "Cold Dead Hand", from The Unspeakable Oath 23) in which Ithaqua is not summoned by the Inuit.

SUGGESTION I'd also welcome a track without Inuit chants: only with arctic snowstorm and wind SFX, plus the roar of The Wendigo heard louder and louder, indicating that it is nearer by the minute.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ithaqua Returns   - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
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Foreign Marketplace - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/17/2014 18:30:24

Despite the vague and unfortunate "foreign" in the title, this track does a good job of capturing an eclectic bazaar. Vendors haggle with customers, babies cry, donkeys bray, birds squawk, and a general hubbub immerses listeners in the marketplace. This would be a good track to use, for example, during the opening scene of the "Murder in Baldur's Gate" adventure or any other time such a market is featured. The soundscape is flexible enough to serve in fantasy, pulp, or modern games equally well.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Foreign Marketplace   - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
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Dwarven City (with music) - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/16/2014 14:05:16

I wrote the following review of the original "Dwarven City" soundscape from Ambient Environments: "This does not sound like a very friendly place! 'Duergar City' might be more like it. Barking dogs give you the sense that you're not really welcome here. Gruff voices, soft cries, and the sounds of pickaxes working away at ore deposits might give you the sense of slave labor. The track is pretty well done and relatively non-intrusive, even with the voices. But I don't see myself using it that often, unless the PCs at my table get captured by dark dwarf slavers or something like that." This product is the same track enhanced with orchestral-type music. The music is very well done, and gives the whole thing a very cinematic flair. I would definitely be more likely to use the "with music" version. But the tone is still ominous, befitting a place where the workers are slaves or the entire community is very much down on its luck. Still, the music adds enough depth and texture for me to give this one an extra star compared to the non-music version.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dwarven City (with music)   - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
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Desert Winds - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/16/2014 13:56:03

This track is dominated, of course, by the sound of wind. It mostly sounds like someone left a microphone out during a sandstorm—which, of course, is the point of the track. In the background, you can barely hear some instrumental music with a Middle Eastern feel. The overall effect is very nice, though I could stand for the musical accents to be louder. The track is a good addition to the Ambient Environments catalog, but there is no "wow" factor to it.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Desert Winds   - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
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Dead Swamp - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/16/2014 01:19:27

There is a striking mismatch between the title of this track, "Dead Swamp," and the first sounds you hear, which are sounds of life (crickets and frogs). In fact, crickets and frogs, along with birds and some other vague sounds that might be footfalls, are mostly what you hear throughout the entire track. The sense of "swampiness" comes only from the bubbling sounds you hear during the seventh minute of this track, and from a splash in the ninth minute—a splash that might be an alligator sliding into the water. If you listen to the track thinking "swamp," you hear a swamp. If you don't have that preconceived notion, you could be on an oilfield, out in the prairie, next to a placid lake, and so on. The name doesn't fit, but you can use the soundscape to good effect for a living ecosystem near just about any body of fresh water.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dead Swamp - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
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Cult Worshippers - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/16/2014 01:07:11

This track starts out very creepy, almost scary, with very deeply-pitched vocals that sound like they might come from some otherworldly entity. Then the track goes quiet, lapsing into a long stretch that sometimes gets near to silence but mostly exhibits very quiet vocals and ethereal sounds. It remains eerie, especially when all the sounds but the voices stop and you continue to hear this ominous chanting. Honestly, this one is almost too spooky and fairly disturbing—which means, I think that evokes exactly the feeling it's supposed to evoke.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cult Worshippers - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
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Civil War Battle - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/16/2014 00:54:56

Rifle and canon fire, the shouts of soldiers, and even the occasional sounding of a bugle combine to very effectively evoke the sense of the 19th-century US Civil War. The only thing that detracts from the scene is the occasional whistling, which comes off as a tad too jaunty for the scene. Also, the volume level seems to be noticeably lower than that of other Ambient Environments soundscapes. At any rate, this soundscape meets its goal very admirably.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Civil War Battle - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
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Car Chase - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/15/2014 18:59:11

This tracks jumps right into the middle of the action—as it should, for a background loop—with a car engine running at a pretty high RPM, followed shortly by the squealing of tires. There's even some breaking glass and such to show the speeding car's effect on its environment. It's a fun track that certainly puts listeners right inside the car, though it's up to you and the story whether that's the getaway car or the car in hot pursuit. There's quite a lot of gunfire in the track, which actually limits your options a bit. Some of the gunfire is rather high-pitched, almost implying "laser bullets," so you could probably use this track in a near-future chase as well as a modern chase. You can't take this back very far into the past, though. Even the 1920s (think Call of Cthulhu) would not support cars that sound like this. I did not notice any sirens in the soundscape, so you're not locked into having the police involved in the chase. I think I'd like to hear a version without the gunfire, but otherwise, I consider this a great track for modern urban scenarios, including superhero games.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Car Chase - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
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Burning Building - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/15/2014 18:48:35

Flames—which sound surprisingly similar to river rapids—surround the listener, as the sounds of falling wooden beams and shattering glass let you know that the building is in bad shape. The presence of shattering glass does limit your options somewhat in the time periods or kinds of buildings you can use with this track. For example, it might fit with a fantasy-medieval cathedral, palace, or wizardry school, but not with the town mill or farmer Grizzle's barn (to hearken back to one of the earliest scenarios I used to introduce D&D to my older son). All in all, I think a modern setting feels like a better fit. Of course, you could also play this track in the background while playing Flash Point; gaming background loops don't have to be just for RPGs.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Burning Building - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
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Biomechanical Satellite Interior - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/15/2014 11:35:25

Right off the bat, the "bio-" is implied by a wet, squishy sound and the "-mechanical" by a constant low-pitched thrum. Later on, the thrum is joined by beeps that sound like they might be coming from some kind of control panel. I think I hear footfalls as well. I picture a group of space travelers walking through muck on a spaceship they've boarded, only to realize to their horror that the muck is living tissue. The track suggests a sort of creepier version of certain scenes from the Star Trek: The Next Generation pilot, "Encounter at Farpoint." I could easily imagine using this track for certain kinds of CthulhuTech, Delta Green, Star Trek, Star Wars, and Dr. Who scenarios. If you're setting an RPG scene in a venue where creepy biomass and high technology meet, consider using this track to add immersion.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Biomechanical Satellite Interior  - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
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Arctic Excursion 2 - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/15/2014 11:23:55

This track is so similar to "Arctic Excursion" that one might justifiably wonder why Ambient Environments felt the need to add it to their library. It's not that I can't hear any difference; it's just that the small differences I hear don't seem to matter much. The two tracks feel like they have essentially the same elements arranged in a different pattern. "Arctic Excursion 2" may go a bit heavier on the ambient musical tones. I was expecting something more different, and felt let down. Now, with that said, this is a fine track on its own—I just don't think it distinguishes itself enough from "Arctic Excursion" for most DMs to want both. I'd recommend choosing one or other other. I would give this track five stars if it didn't seem as much like a do-over.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Arctic Excursion 2 - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
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