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Back in 1997, Final Fantasy VII debuted on the PlayStation, and its innovative soundtrack managed to explore all the possibilities of this new hardware, including tracks with digitized vocals. Over the years, many tracks became iconic, making the creation of a superlative soundtrack for the remake a very complicated task, but Square Enix completed this quest with finesse. Music is one of Final Fantasy VII Remake’s most remarkable features because the sound team managed to create a fantastic, mind-blowing soundtrack that respects the essence of the original game. Classic tracks were revisited and re-recorded with new arrangements by Masashi Hamauzu and Mitsuto Suzuki to make them more dramatic and to fit the graphic evolution of the game. With the addition of new tracks and a song from original composer Nobuo Uematsu, the remake acquires its own distinctive tone. Newcomers get to explore Midgar with an impressive soundscape, while old fans get a very touchy experience full of nostalgia.
Square Enix usually gives a very important role to music, so it is not surprising that one of its products wins a music award. Since the first trailer, the game promised a great sonic evolution. The game treasures its music so much that there are even music-related quests, and with good reasons because every part of the story is lovely accompanied by music that fits perfectly. New compositions and arrangements definitely evolved along with the game, making Final Fantasy VII Remake a delightful experience for the ears.
Supergiant Games is known for having excellent music and Hades is no exception. The guitar-driven soundtrack is filled with plenty of upbeat action tracks as well as more laid-back pieces to set the mood. Hades’ structure is fairly segmented, giving most rooms a strong aural identity that quickly evokes a particular mood or set piece such as the calm brought about by hearing Charon’s simple shop theme. The addition of Orpheus and Eurydice adds a lyrical component while also further cementing the music into the DNA of the game. Considering the looping nature of the game, one might think that the songs themselves may get repetitive, but none overstay their welcome and instead feel like another thoughtfully-considered aspect that makes the game flow so well.
Falcom Sound Team JDK has established a standard for consistent excellence that has made it a fixture in RPGamer’s annual awards for best music. The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV continues this trend with a delightful mix of upbeat rocking battle tracks that Falcom has always been known for while still crafting quieter, more ethereal music for exploring the world. With tracks like “Betting the Fate of the World” capturing the high-stakes struggle stretching across four games, it’s no wonder that Trails of Cold Steel IV ranks among the best soundtracks of the year.
by Luis Mauricio, Zack Webster, and Joshua Carpenter