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Final Fantasy XIV’s ever-expanding soundtrack is already something of a gaming legend. Masayoshi Soken’s taking over the reins since A Realm Reborn has seen it go in some incredible directions. However, with Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers, things are somehow taken to yet another level. What is already an incredible tale and general experience in Shadowbringers is made even moreso by the incredible musical accompaniment.
With the rocking opening theme players know right from the outset they’re in for something special and that carries all the way through. The theme for the first dungeon perfectly encapsulates the fight for survival and rescue mission that players get involved in, while the new “Insatiable” boss theme ensures that players are kept on the edge of their seats. Rak’tika Greatwood’s memorable waking theme evokes both the nature of the area and as the Warrior of Light brings a new dawn for The First, and “Neath Dark Waters”, the hauntingly beautiful and somewhat melancholic theme for the expansion’s final area, is an incredible capstone for the main Shadowbringers questline, providing the perfect fit for both the location itself and the narrative at that point. Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers is packed full of memorable tracks; it’s a shining musical achievement and provides not just the best soundtrack of 2019, but one of the best soundtracks out there.
In order for Cadence of Hyrule to work as well as it did, it had to have a killer soundtrack to back it up. A bevy of familiar tracks — from Kakariko Village to Lost Woods to Gerudo Desert — have been remixed in funky, rockin’ new ways. Boss themes and a number of incidental tracks round out the package, with special attention focused on infusing an infectious beat to move and battle to in each composition. Not content to stop there, each area also includes sister tracks that indicate when the area is free of enemies or the game is paused in it. It’s a soundtrack that, like the game, does an amazing job of taking the familiar and updating it in catchy ways, making it one that’s great to put on and listen to, in-game and out.
The Falcom Sound Team jdk has always produced excellent music across its titles and The Legend of Heroes: Cold Steel III is one of its strongest collective efforts yet. The main menu track “Start Line” starts things off magnificently and the rest of the soundtrack ends up offering a good mixture indicative of the times of social upheaval and technological advancement that forms one of the main themes of the Cold Steel saga. From the rocking combat themes to the more chilled environmental pieces, it’s a soundtrack that is an absolute joy to listen to and easily one of the top ones of the year.
by Alex Fuller and Pascal Tekaia