Hello and welcome back to P-Vock's Music Box. 2023 has been an awesome year for me regarding game releases. Indies, long-beloved franchises, and sleeper hits galore have made this year really stand out and give me lots to enjoy (and cause my wallet unending pain). Beyond that, however, 2023 has also been a year for banging expansions to games I loved from years prior. Idris Elba headlined a massive expansion to Cyberpunk 2077, the protagonist of my favourite game of all time returned in Xenoblade Chronicles 3: Future Redeemed, and this week saw the release of an expansion to a game I loved in a series I adore.
Tales of Arise was a wonderful step forward in the long-running Tales series, and I can't wait to sink my teeth into this expansion and future game. So, to celebrate this wonderful expansion, let's take a look at my favourite game in this series and admire its incredible tunes.
I could write like five blog posts that all give a unique few tracks in this wonderfully varied and deep soundtrack, but I'll start with the track you hear probably more than any other tune in the game. For a standard battle theme, Furnace of War is anything but. The confident guitar riffs, bombastic drums, and instantly catchy melody absolutely nails the powerful and triumphant feeling of picking up Yuri Lowell's blade and watching him dance through his enemies as he cuts and slashes with ease, or Judith donning her spear and launching her enemies skyward in a way that would make even the best dragoons blush, or watching Rita just summon a damn tsunami because she is probably the most powerful mage of all time (next to Donald Duck, of course).
Speaking of confidence in our music.
This is it. This is my favourite town theme of all time. Traverse Town, Frontier Village, and Onett got nothing on Dahngrest. A town full of mercenary guilds chasing their own ideals and living for their groups united in their teams and united as a town deserves a theme full of powerful and varied musical motifs that confidently present new ideas while still feeling cohesive and together. From the opening drums to the repetitious crescendos to the deliciously tangy whir, everything presented here fits beautifully while still being distinct and interesting. For a town you spend a good amount of time walking around, it's important to have a theme that warrants long listening sessions and repeated listens. This is my way of saying that I have had this on for literal hours on end while doing work or chores numerous times.
The theme for Dahngrest is bold, confident, and as powerful as any of the guilds within her walls.
But, of course, this is an RPG with an expansive story, so it's not all confident victories and powerful finishers.
I won't spoil what happens whenever this tune plays, but I'm sure just a few seconds are all you need to guess that it isn't a good time when it plays. A Tragic Decision accompanies one of my favourite and most thought-provoking death scenes in all of media and has a melody that has accompanied a large space in my brain for years upon years at this point. It starts off sounding so utterly defeated, as if each string of notes represents someone panting and gasping for air after being defeated in a brutal clash (not far off of what happens when it plays, honestly). Before long, the incredible backing is accompanied by a hauntingly beautiful and unforgettable melody that offers some reprieve, as if telling the characters and the player not to cry for their fallen friend (good luck with that).
There's an almost back-and-forth quality to these two ideas in this track as it jumps from one to the other, which is perfectly fitting given that it accompanies a death in which one character tells our protagonist "Heh, don't worry Yuri, I'll be sure to save you a spot in hell." and is followed up by Yuri saying "I don't think they'd let me into the hell you're going to..."
When I think of sad video game music, this is one of the first tunes that comes to mind.
Tales of Vesperia is one of my all-time favourite games. With a wonderful combat system and areas I never tire of exploring, one of the greatest lineups of characters you will ever say in anything, a truly thought-provoking and philosophical story asking the question "what is true justice, and who deserves to deliver it?", and an absolutely sensational OST, Tales of Vesperia stands tall as one of the best of its era and a landmark Xbox 360 title that caused me to more than lose my shit when I heard of a remake announced in 2018 with content we never got in the West before. I am always happy to talk about it in any capacity.
AND ALSO IT HAS A DOG AND HIS NAME IS REPEDE AND HE IS LITERALLY THE GOODEST OF BOYS!!!!!
Thank you so much as always for checking out my content, and I hope to catch you back here next time, with another suggestion from my Music Box.
PS. The OST is too good, so have a town theme for a group of nerds that would rather stay inside all day and read as opposed to doing literally anything else.