Go back to The Nomad Soul

Written by: Rik

Date posted: December 6, 2006

The Nomad Soul gained a few column inches outside the gaming press thanks to the involvement of none other then the Thin White Duke himself, David Bowie. Bowie appears in the game as Boz, a revolutionary wanted by the authorities, who (surprisingly enough) looks and sounds just like David Bowie. Perhaps more significantly, he also appears as the unnamed singer of an illegal rock band, The Dreamers, who perform at various venues throughout the game. These concerts are “unlocked” by finding and picking up flyers advertising them during your adventures: once you’ve found them, just pop along to the appropriate venue and prepare yourself for an uninterruptible FMV.

The songs are all Bowie creations (assisted by long-time collaborator Reeves Gabrels) which have lost some of the novelty they had at the time of release as most of them appeared on his 1999 album hours…, like many recent Bowie releases, a record initially praised as a “return to form” before later being derided as, er, not a return to form at all and actually being a bit dull. Dull is certainly the word to describe most of the songs featured here, although it has to be said that the opening ditty that greets your initial entry into the city is rather catchy.

It’s a shame that the release of this game coincided with the end of Bowie’s most experimental period as an artist, the 90s, a decade in which he experimented with drum and bass and went on tour with Nine Inch Nails. While much of his output during this time might best be described as patchy, one might have thought that the industrial stylings of Outside or the techno-dabbling of Earthling would have been better suited to the sci-fi genre than the folky warbling on offer here. However, Bowie has never been one to serve up the expected, and when you consider that The Nomad Soul isn’t exactly a cyberpunk adventure, in a way the soundtrack is a decent fit for the game.

It doesn’t mean you have to like it though, and the best that can be said for Bowie’s involvement is that his intermittent appearances may remind you that he has actually produced some pretty decent music in the past, encouraging you to dig out some of your old CDs/go out and buy a lazily-compiled Best Of/obtain some MP3s through legitimate or other means (delete as appropriate). Whatever – if you didn’t know it already, Bowie’s great: just not in this game.