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The Final Fantasy XIV sound team has been at the top of their game for some years. With its score once again led by Masayoshi Soken, along with significant contributions from Daiki Ishikawa and Takafumi Imamura, Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker provides another musical tour de force. It is an aural celebration of the complete Hydaelyn and Zodiark saga, making full use of new compositions and Final Fantasy XIV’s extensive musical library.
The soundtrack massively heightens the emotional impact of the game, as familiar motifs help to underpin the story throughout and are a key contributor to its storytelling. There are beautiful new arrangements of pieces as well as brand new tracks, and the musical progression of the game’s final portions is a big contributor to it being one of the most triumphant RPG sequences out there. The new town and zone themes are so nice to listen to that one can happily walk around and relax to them without a care, while the new battle themes help get players pumped up for the fight. At this point, one almost runs out of superlatives, especially when trying to not repeat what has been said about Final Fantasy XIV’s music before, but Endwalker ensures that it doesn’t let up and offers yet another musical treat.
The music in Fantasian has one of the biggest RPG names attached with Nobuo Uematsu, the famed video game composer who was instrumental to the success of the Final Fantasy series. Known in part for having rock and metal influences, Uematsu incorporates strong guitar riffs into some of the game’s tracks, driving his signature with an edgy sound. However, what struck a chord the most in many are Fantasian’s more ethereal and layered tracks, pulling them into the gameplay by tugging their emotional strings. Several songs and themes are earnest, while others are more lighthearted. The thoughtful 58-track soundtrack ranges widely in its aural scope. The music never strays from its design to evoke necessary ambience during gameplay, whether the player should feel urgency, longing, danger, uncertainty, hope, or resolve. Such an evocative soundscape makes Fantasian a sonic standout.
Falcom Sound Team JDK has a well-deserved reputation for excellence, and its latest work in Ys IX: Monstrum Nox is no exception. There are plenty of upbeat tracks like “Monstrum Spectrum” that fans have come to expect to accompany Ys’ frantic combat. However, there is also plenty of variety with subtle and subdued inclusions like “Ambiguous Territory”, which match the mystery surrounding the prison city of Balduq. Once again, Falcom has crafted one of the best aural accompaniments to an RPG out there.
by Alex Fuller, Jason McFadden, and Joshua Carpenter