Hello, welcome to P-Vock's Music Box, and Happy New Year!
This year was a massive mixed bag for me, and I know a ton of people cannot say goodbye to '22 fast enough. But if you'll let me, I have one last thing from last year to talk about.
To kick off 2022 by talking about my favourite game of the previous year, Neo: The World Ends With You. Let's kick off 2023 by talking about my favourite release of 2022.
If you know anything about me and you know anything about what released last year, you know what this is.
I won't hide it or give some dumb preamble to introduce it. Xenoblade Chronicles 3 merely being announced made me happy cry. While I always knew a new Xeno game would happen soon enough, the fact that the game did exist at all was enough to excite me endlessly. But, beyond that, the first trailer alone gave me a ton of intrigue and a ton of "what does this mean?" level questions. There was so much in the first reveal trailer that had me screeching and all of the question marks being raised. This was a new game with its own interesting story, but clearly had nuggets to dig into for longtime fans like the idiot loser writing this column.
But, of course, that all means little if the game doesn't deliver.
Well, this game was everything I wanted and then some, and that hit me the second I turned it on.
Every Xenoblade title screen theme is amazing, and 3 continued that trend with authority. While Xenoblade 1 and 2 have a little more hope in their emotional title themes, this one is way more somber. It calls out to me as if it's tired. As if it just wants something to be over and done with. It almost seems to be saying "Just end it for me."
That analysis probably sounds dark and depressing, if not just straight-up messed up.
Welcome to Xenoblade Chronicles 3.
But, because this is Xenoblade, it does eventually pick up just enough hope to give it a sense of "we can do this!"
That's the kind of energy the cast (and often the game's soundtrack) brings to the table, especially when it seems hopeless.
Just when things begin to feel hopeless, the team comes together and proves why they stand as a perfect representation of hope in this game. I could talk about how this MASTERPIECE perfectly alludes to Engage the Enemy and Counterattack, the track that plays in Xenoblade 1 and 2, respectively. But, you don't need to know about that. All you need is to bask in the absolute majesty of this BANGER.
The flute, the piano, the everything in this track absolutely crushes it.
Instead of rambling about the music, allow me to share a wonderful moment involving this track.
Xenoblade 3 was nominated for Game of the Year at The Game Awards, and the show performed its usual medley of tracks from nominees at the show.
When Xenoblade 3 got up, we saw the birth of a legendary moment.
Flute Guy is a legend, and we don't deserve him.
Anyway, the soundtrack. I played one Xenoblade 3 battle track that was released online early to celebrate the game's release back in July of last year, so let's drop another track. In fact, let's drop one that contains one of the best drops of all time.
Once again, just like The Weight of Life, it starts off so somber and hopeless, before the bass drops and the music kicks up as if it echoes the party rebelling against their enemies. If you're ever planning on quitting your job and telling off your boss while you deliver the news, please play this music as you do it. I don't think you could ever do something more powerful than that.
But okay, I mentioned that Xenoblade 3 is a rather emotional story, and it definitely has some extremely emotional moments (one that I am still not over and still have yet to recover from).
Let's have a listen to one such track.
Xenoblade 3 has two main characters, Noah and Mio. Their job as off-seers is to perform for their fallen comrades and enemies as a way of honouring their deaths. They play the flutes. This game's team of composers had two special flutes made so that both Noah and Mio would have unique sounds when they sent people off.
That kind of dedication and respect for this video game's soundtrack not only blows me away and fills me with so much joy, but really works and allows this theme to remain truly unforgettable to anyone who has played the game. By the time the other instruments join, you can't help but feel goosebumps as you want to weep at the tragedy unfolding on your screen in the truly horrid world in which this plot takes place.
Alright, I'll stop taking up all your time. When you really love a medium, you consume a lot of it. When you consume a lot of it, you sometimes forget why you love it in the first place. It sometimes takes a special creation to really remind you why it is so special to you.
Much like every game I played upon release from this series, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 reminds me why I love this medium so much. Its story is impactful and interesting. Its characters are all top-tier. Its world is fascinating. And, of course, its soundtrack is perfection and my favourite OST of 2022.
Because of all of this, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 was easily my favourite video game of 2022.
I hope your weekend, and your whole 2023, is as exceptional and wonderful as I believe this game to be.
I'll catch you next time with another suggestion from my Music Box. Stay Brutal!
PS. Yeah, I got one more because I could write a damn paper on any track from this soundtrack. If you really wanna get the feels, listen to A Step Away.
For context, this plays over a montage of a man (and all his friends) weeping in prison and desperately attempting to break out of prison to save his beloved who is soon to be ritually sacrificed in front of the entire world. The lyrics are from his perspective and are dedicated to his love. The antagonists taunt him multiple times during the montage. I promise the game does have some jovial moments.