Resonance of Fate Original Soundtrack
Resonance of Fate Original Soundtrack
March 24, 2010
Buy at CDJapan
When it comes to tri-Ace games, everyone expects Motoi Sakuraba, their composer of choice, to be responsible for the music. However, for the Resonance of Fate Original Soundtrack, tri-Ace threw a curveball into the mix by also bringing in Imagine’s Kohei Tanaka to do a portion of the music. Kohei Tanaka would be, in essence, responsible for the music for various portions of the game, such as town themes, world map themes, and cutscenes, whereas Motoi Sakuraba would be responsible for the battle and dungeon themes. Given their different approach in style, one might think this was a mispaired match; however, Kohei Tanaka’s music brings the world of Basel to life, whereas the music by Sakuraba brings the action in Basel to the forefront. While most of the soundtrack is indeed composed by Motoi Sakuraba, he definitely does something different from his previous works, even if it still is progressive rock in nature. Is it a favorable one? That’s up to personal opinion, but I rather enjoyed this soundtrack. Read on to find out why.
The soundtrack opens up with Kohei Tanaka’s “The Beginning of Eternity.” This theme features a beautiful blend of more cinematic action scoring and some exquisite melodies. It introduces the main motifs heard in the game and is a fantastic way to open the soundtrack. The orchestral instrumentation, much like the rest of Tanaka’s contributions, is superb. Tanaka, responsible for the cinematic work on the soundtrack, also offers a few more cinematic masterpieces. “The Truth” is one such theme and one that harbors a very sinister image. As the theme progresses, it takes on a more and more sinister atmosphere, starting mainly with some piano and strings work before moving onto some beautifully integrated organ and brass. In the end, this is one of the themes that really define Kohei Tanaka’s skill at blending orchestral music rather nicely. “Resonance of Fate,” ironically the name of the game in the Western versions of the game, is some more cinematic music. This one carries with it an air of mystery and calm. However, as it progresses, it takes on a more action-oriented approach that emphasizes some sort of crisis-like event. I find the more peaceful sections of this theme to be more enjoyable. “Final Curtain” serves as the music for the final cutscene. It’s a delicate rendition of the main theme of the game and features many moving passages. The strings work, which I’ve noticed tends to be Tanaka’s strength, is exquisite as expected and really brings to life the melody. However, the climax of the piece is also quite powerful, where Tanaka uses brass to bring the main theme to its conclusion.
However, many of Tanaka’s strongest themes reside within the world map and town themes on the soundtrack. The first world map theme you encounter is “Upper World.” This theme features some heavy brass usage over top an electronic beat, giving a sense of heroism and exploration. There are also some strings passages that are much less bombastic in nature and help to bring about an air of mystery to the theme. It’s not one of my favorite themes, as I find the brass to be on the slightly abrasive side, but the melody is definitely top-notch. The night version of “Upper World” theme is much more enjoyable. In comparison to the day version of the theme, it’s quite tranquil and calm. It features some beautiful strings, xylophone, and some brass work for the melody. The brass is much more subdued this time and really brings out the melody heard in the original theme, but with a much more delicate nature. Out of the two versions, this theme is definitely my favorite. “Chandelier,” the world map theme mainly used for the upper echelon of Basel, is a gorgeous theme that features an exquisite strings melody. The woodwind and brass harmonies are also quite pleasant and the addition of some choral work brings with it a nice textural contrast. It’s a theme that is playful at times and it also features motifs from “Resonance of Fate”. The night version of “Chandelier” is even more exquisite. Delicate in nature, like many of the night themes by Tanaka, it features ethereal vocal samples that reinforce the solemnity heard in the harp and strings work. >
Moving a bit lower in Basel, “Middle World” is quite a different beast than the world map themes heard in the upper portions of Basel. The strengths of this piece are easily the piano accompaniment and the strings melody. It’s extremely well crafted and I find the atmosphere it creates — one of mystery — really helps solidify this theme as one of the better world map themes. The night version of the theme focuses more on woodwind melodies; however, the mysterious nature is kept via the harp and ambient accompaniment, in addition the manipulation of the woodwind output. It’s a delightful theme. Lastly, “Lower World,” unlike many of Tanaka’s theme, this one throws in a bit of a rock base. It’s easily one of my favorite themes. It harbors a dark nature and the way the instrumentation is implemented at times reminds me a bit of GEM Impact’s work on Ninja Blade. It’s definitely one of Tanaka’s more “experimental” themes and I think he succeeds at capturing the essence of the underbelly of Basel.
To start with town related themes, “Home Sweet Home” is the theme used while in your base of operations. It features a slight militaristic tone to it, thanks to the style of percussion used. However, for the most part, it’s an exquisitely crafted strings piece that has an air of coziness to it. The woodwind and brass accents really help bring some more character into the mix, but even without them, the music wouldn’t be any weaker. “Ebel City,” the town in which you start your adventure, is an orchestral theme, led mainly by strings, brass, and woodwinds. It is, for a lack of a better description, an absolutely stunning composition. It’s bright and cheery and really manages to capture the essence of a town. The various harmonies that utilize the various instruments only add a complexity to the piece. However, the true star, despite being quite brief, is the addition of the piano in the melody line. It brings with it an air of delicateness and is truly an astonishing addition to the theme. The night version of this theme is quite delicate in nature. The acoustic guitar work and the beautiful strings work really help capture the tranquility of evening time. It’s another fantastic theme that really caters to Tanaka’s strengths of capturing emotion. “Cardinal’s Manor” has a bit of a Renaissance flavor. The most striking aspect of this composition is definitely the woodwind work. It demonstrates both playfulness and delicateness in the melody and is definitely the biggest draw for the composition. The harmonies in the strings work, as well as when they take the melodic lead, are extremely beautiful as well and help strengthen the piece even further.
“Cranktown,” on the other hand, has a very bouncy nature, yet at the same time, a very delicate nature. It reminds me a bit like Dragon Quest music when it comes to the brass accents strewn about the theme. In the end, it’s a beautiful piece, but one of the weaker, yet still good, town themes. The night version of “Cranktown” is is a very dark theme in comparison to some of the other night town themes. The piano, saxophone, and light jazz nature help give it a very smoky atmosphere, however, it is one that is still quite beautiful. It’s a much better theme than its day time counterpart. “Crank Seminary” also harbors a dark nature. The organ, haunting choral work, and striking strings work really cement a sinister atmosphere. The melody isn’t as strong as some of the other themes Tanaka composes, but overall, the atmosphere makes up for it. I particularly enjoy the use of the harpsichord. “Albona” is a theme that also continues with the more experimental nature found in “Lower World.” It combines an industrial beat with some jazzy sax and brass work. The more traditional sections of the theme are more classical in nature and help add a nice contrast to the piece, but the true star of the show is definitely the exquisite saxophone work and the jazzy nature of the piece.
Nevertheless, Tthe majority of the soundtrack does indeed belong to Motoi Sakuraba, responsible for the game’s dungeon and battle themes. Sakuraba’s first contribution, “Fighting with the Devil,” is used as the music for a cinematic that can be viewed if you wait on the title screen for so long. It’s also progressive in nature, with a strong focus on a strong percussion and bass guitar line as accompaniment to some suspended strings, piano, electric guitar, and keyboard work. It’s a fantastic theme that really gives off quite a powerful image. Sakuraba also closes out the soundtrack with three themes, “The End of Eternity,” which is used as the credits theme, “Dangerous Attraction,” and “Red Hot Choi Polis.” I’m not sure how the latter two are used, but all three share a similar jam session approach where each instrument gets its chance to shine. They are some of my favorite themes on the soundtrack for this reason and “The End of Eternity” even manages to throw in a bit of “Fighting with the Devil,” albeit slightly arranged, into the mix.
Some of the earliest battle themes are also some of the most interesting. The A version of “Back Alley,” used when you are selecting your battle plans, is very electronic focused and features a nice rhythmic drum line with some distorted synth sounds. The B version of this theme, used during the action portions of the battle, is much more rock focused with some powerful percussion work and some catchy bass riffs. Some of the electronic influence from the A version is heard in the accompaniment. The progressive keyboard work that Sakuraba is known for isn’t as prevalent in this theme, but it’s there to serve as more of a support pillar. Overall, there is a bit of a funk to this theme. “Rainy Bridge,” on the other hand, spruces things up a bit. The A version of this theme, used when you are selecting your battle plans, is also quite electronic in nature and also features a bit of a funky atmosphere. The keyboard work here is more prevalent, but it’s not typical Sakuraba and is used mainly as an atmosphere booster. There are times when it is a bit more focused. The B version of this theme, the music when battling is actually taking place on the screen, is also rock in nature and what a treat it is! The melodic sections exude a nice raw edge that combines nicely with the drum work. There is also a sense of a classic rock sound to it and the various guitar solos really help break up the pace.
Out of the earliest battle themes, “Closed Road” has to be one of my favorites on the entire soundtrack. The A version of this theme is also quite awesome and is one of the better A versions on the soundtrack. It has a nice atmospheric approach to it, but the combination of the electronic sounds and the simple guitar work really give it a nice mellow touch. The B version, on the other hand, is easily one of my favorite Sakuraba battle themes on the soundtrack. This is definitely more in line with some of Sakuraba’s progressive rock works. It features some fantastic bass riffs and drum work. In addition, the keyboard work is absolutely fantastic and really has Sakuraba rocking out to the music. The electric guitar also serves as a nice harmony to the keyboard work.
Some of the earlier dungeon themes also feature some interesting music. The A version of “Hughes Power Station,” used as the dungeon theme, features some interesting percussion work and some atmospheric, yet melodic, keyboard work. There are times when there is a mini-solo going on in the background, but it’s a pretty interesting theme. The B version of this theme is used as the battle theme for the dungeon and it mimics the A version quite well in terms of translating the main sections of the A version into something more meaty. The progressive keyboard work is used mainly as support, with the electric guitar, at times distorted, serving as the main melody, while the drums and bass guitar are used to reinforce the melody. Subsequently, the “Hughes Power Station – Night” theme is also quite interesting and is easily one of my favorites on the soundtrack as well. The A version of this theme is used as the dungeon theme during the night. This one is an interesting upbeat electronic based theme with some rock tinges thrown in for continuity. The theme is actually quite innovative for Sakuraba and it’s one of the more interesting A themes in the game. The B version, used as the battle theme, keeps the same rhythm as the A version, but as with many of the other themes, adds some intense drum work, some awesome bass guitar, some killer keyboard work, although it doesn’t venture into the realm of crazy solo, and I love the electronic flair thrown in as well.
In the game, there is also a battle arena you can visit to gain additional experience, items, and coins. The A version of “Arena” is used while in the Arena lobby. Unlike some of the other A themes on the soundtrack, this one is heavily industrialized rock from the get-go. The electronic elements help give it a nice contrasting texture. This is another one of the A themes that really stands out. The B version, the battle theme for the Arena, features some impressive percussion work, while the progressive synth is used to mimic the industrial nature of the A version. It’s an intense theme with some nice bass and lead guitar work that help reinforce the atmosphere created in the A version. The A version of “Open Air Studio,” which I presume is a dungeon theme, features some interesting percussion and a pretty mellow atmosphere through the use of the keyboard work. The B version of this theme, on the other hand, is a pretty awesome rock theme with a pretty groovy electric guitar lead. The progressive keyboard work and the drums serve as nice accompaniments to the theme and help bring about a nice contrast to the overall tone of the theme; however, the short keyboard solo is another way that helps bring a bit of groove to the theme. Lastly, although there is plenty more rockin’ themes, “Grand Idee Mines” is another favorite of mine. The A version serves as the dungeon theme and relies heavily on bass guitar to create its atmosphere. Throw in some keyboard work and electronic elements for some additional support and it’s quite catchy. The B version, the battle theme portion of the dungeon, is a nice combination of keyboard work, electric guitar, and bass guitar. The keyboard really brings with it a bunch of funk, while the accompanying guitar work really helps bring about a nice rock touch.
In contrast to many of the themes on the soundtrack, there are some very ethereal and ambient themes on the soundtrack. The A version of “Mine 24,” used as the dungeon theme, is one such example. It harbors a very spooky atmosphere through its use of crystalline synth and warbled synth accompaniment. The B version, which is used as the battle theme for the dungeon, continues the spooky atmosphere heard in the original by retaining the crystalline synth accents used in the A version, while adding some haunting strings work and a bit of an industrial beat. It’s definitely a beautiful touch and reminds me of Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria in design. Freud Remnants” is another theme reminiscent of that game. The A version of “Freud Remnants” serves as the dungeon theme is quite heroic sounding at times. The upbeat melodic strings work, although somewhat sinister in execution, gives it a very uplifting sound. The more sinister strings work is mainly used as accompaniment. The B version, the battle theme, also carries a sinister image as well. The bass line is very powerful, featuring a strong mix of percussion and some industrial elements. However, the real power lies in the strings melody. It is an extremely dark and foreboding theme, but the strings work really adds a sense of urgency and depth to the piece.
Similarly, “Silver Canyon” and “Silver Canyon – Night” also follow this structure. The A version of “Silver Canyon,” also used as a dungeon theme, is perhaps even more spooky and sinister than “Mine 24.” It’s much more ambient in nature, with some haunting crystalline synth accents and some “croaking” like sound effects. The battle theme for the dungeon, the B version, retains the sinister nature by incorporating similar ideas as used in “Mine 24.” There are additional crystalline synth sections added, in sparse supply, and there is an overall industrial sound through the use of sporadic percussion. The perpetual electronic accompaniment also helps reinforce the atmosphere. This is one of the weaker themes on the soundtrack, as there is really no melodic pull, but for those who appreciate ambience, it might be worth checking out. Interestingly enough, the A version of “Silver Canyon – Night,” manages to add a bit more substance to the dungeon theme. It’s still quite spooky, but the random electronic effects, coupled with the constant droning of some distorted synth, and the addition of a deep bass beat help make it slightly more interesting than “Silver Canyon.” The B version of the theme, also used as a battle theme for the dungeon, retains the haunting atmosphere of the A version by incorporating some rock elements, although very subtle, and a stronger industrial base. The majority of the theme though still features the distorted synth that adds the atmospheric effect, but the accompanying keyboard work brings about a nice new dimension to the piece.
Out of all the themes, the themes for the Square Garden are absolutely the themes that sound most out of place listening on a standalone basis. Serving as the music for the snowy areas of the games, there is a very Christmassy sound. “Square Garden – Red and Green,” is probably the more Christmassy of the two themes. The dungeon portion, version A, features sleigh bells, upbeat crystalline synth work, and some electronic accompaniment to create a very playful atmosphere. The battle portion, version B, replaces some of the crystalline synth with keyboard work. It helps reinforce the winter imagery and the bass work is an interesting touch, but its also one of the weaker themes on the soundtrack, even if it is quite different. “Square Garden – White,” on the other hand, is a much better composition, even if it does fall into the same pitfalls as the “Red and Green” version. The dungeon theme, version A, features a much catchier melody line, thanks to the keyboard work, and the bell tolls add to the Christmassy atmosphere. The B version features some interesting harmonies, but for the most part, it’s more of a sound upgrade to the A version. The biggest draw for me though is how playful it is and how it reminds me of Fun City from Star Ocean: The Second Story. At least, that’s the image I get in my head when I hear this theme.
Sakuraba also offers a couple of orchestral themes on the soundtrack as well. The A version of “Outer Wall” bodes a very sinister environment through its use of ominous strings work and occasional bass guitar riff. Overall, it’s a pretty standard orchestral theme. The battle portion, version B, retains the sinister nature, but the only new addition of some percussion work, giving it a bit of an industrial. Although there isn’t much difference between the two, this version seems much fuller in terms of soundscapes. The final dungeon theme, “Basilica,” is one of my favorites. Similar to “Outer Wall,” the A and B versions of the themes are fairly similar and both rely on ominous organ and choral work to give a sense of impending doom. The B version, similar to “Outer Wall,” is a much better piece. Through the additional of strings accompaniment, there is a much more pressing urgency present in the piece.
Although I won’t mention them all, there are a few themes that are used solely as battle themes, and thus, their A and B versions are very similar. For example, “Irruption” is used solely as a boss battle theme. The A version and the B version are quite similar, with the B version adding some brass harmonies in the background. This is done to prevent the change in pace during the battle. It’s classic progressive rock Sakuraba with a nice focus on electric guitar. It’s a pretty rockin’ theme and I love the keyboard work that is used as an accompaniment. It’s like a solo is always going on in the theme, whether it’s in the background or the foreground. “Battle to Pay the Debt,” one of the final boss themes, is one of Sakuraba’s orchestral progressive rock pieces. The bass line is powerful bass guitar and drum work with some occasional keyboard work in solos, but the melody is mainly comprised of frenetic strings work. The B version adds some brass harmonies into the mix. It’s a fantastic theme and one of my favorite battle themes on the soundtrack. Lastly, the final battle theme, “The Show Must Go On,” is a mixture of choral work and progressive rock. It’s a nice combination that helps tie together the majority of the battle themes on the soundtrack and the final dungeon music. It has an extremely ominous nature to it, due to the choral work, that matches nicely with the awesome keyboard work and frenetic sound of the progressive rock elements. The B version of the theme, similar to the other themes mentioned, adds a brass element into the mix.
In the end, I found this soundtrack to be extremely satisfying. Kohei Tanaka offers a breadth of emotion through his various cinematic, town, and world map themes. Sakuraba, on the other hand, also provides an entertaining experience by providing themes that are more reminiscent of his past style of composing progressive rock themes, while at the same time, adding some more styles into his repertoire with the classic rock and funk focus on a lot of the themes. Some might think that the split between A and B themes weren’t necessary, and in some accounts they aren’t, but for the most part, they offer a different atmosphere and some innovative work on Sakuraba’s part. They also bring an element of interactivity into the game, given the A and B themes often transition in and out of each other. It’s quite a different beast in terms of sound than other tri-Ace works and it’s one of Sakuraba’s more inspired efforts in years. For those who are fans of Sakuraba’s progressive rock offerings, this theme is definitely for you. He’ll definitely surprise you with some of his themes. However, if you are thinking about getting this because you are a much greater fan of Kohei Tanaka, you might walk away slightly disappointed in the amount of contributions he has to offer.
Do you agree with the review and score? Let us know in the comments below!
Posted on August 1, 2012 by Don Kotowski. Last modified on August 1, 2012.