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The Xenoblade Chronicles series has been constantly praised for its music, and it comes as no surprise that Xenoblade Chronicles 3 features a memorable and exhilarating soundtrack. From the moment the game launches, the emotive title theme readily provides a treat for the ears. The music — composed by the fantastic team of Yasunori Mitsuda, Manami Kiyota, ACE, Kenji Hiramatsu, and Mariam Abounnasr — is remarkably varied, with a good dose of folklore at the core of each track to match the game’s mood. The score includes different themes for each location depending on whether it is day or night, making the soundscape highly dynamic.
One of the reasons why the music in Xenoblade Chronicles 3 fits so neatly with the story and visuals is instrumental choices, and in particular the use of flutes. The flute is a vital narrative element in the game, with protagonists Mio and Noah using them to fulfill their duties as off-seers. The inclusion of this instrument not only gives continuity to the events but also delivers both heartbreaking and heartwarming moments. Other instruments such as pianos, strings, distorted guitars, and drums refresh the sonic journey regularly while creating epic themes. Combat is highly engaging with upbeat music featuring electric guitars with beautiful and powerful melodies. Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is a great game on many fronts, with music being far from the least of them.
Given Nihon Falcom’s reputation for excellent music, it’s no surprise that The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero lives up to expectations and has some of the most outstanding music of 2022. Falcom Sound Team once again manages to create upbeat, catchy battle themes that never seem to get old while also crafting a wide variety of environmental pieces to match the varied locales of Crossbell. The tracks quickly become so familiar that, once a piece like “Points and Lines” starts playing, the player instantly knows that Lloyd is about to solve whatever case the SSS is working on. Trails from Zero’s soundtrack is excellent both as an accompaniment with the game as well as on its own during repeated listening sessions.
FromSoftware veterans knew they were going to be treated to an assortment of superb melodies upon starting up Elden Ring. The opening score feels filled with strife, sorrow, and despair, only to wake up and inspire hope moments later. Tsukasa Saitoh and Yuka Kitamura lead a list of composers that capture the atmosphere of every scene perfectly. From ambient tones inside dark decrepit caves to a chorus of angelic voices harmonizing during an intense boss battle, Elden Ring delivers musical ensembles that fit each scenario with sublime perfection. Boss battles such as Godrick or the Godskin Apostles really pull at the player’s heartstrings as they deliver intense music that adds to the harsh, fast-paced nature of those fights. Those brave enough to take on the game’s challenge will find tons of great songs to enjoy, while everyone else is encouraged to try out its soundtrack in a less stressful setting of their own choosing.
by Luis Mauricio, Joshua Carpenter, and Ryan Radcliff