Etrian Mystery Dungeon Original Soundtrack
Etrian Mystery Dungeon Original Soundtrack
April 22, 2015
Buy at CDJapan
In recent years, the Etrian Odyssey series has become quite popular as a niche RPG, with remakes of the earlier games in the series as well as the next mainline entry currently in development. Earlier this year, Atlus teamed up with Spike Chunsoft to create a variation of their Mystery Dungeon style games, complete with iconic character classes from the series as well as new classes. Featuring both newly composed original music for the series by Yuzo Koshiro as well as arrangements by Koshiro and Takeshi Yanagawa, how does this effort compare to the most recent entries in the series, the remade soundtracks to the first two games in the series?
Given that this is a new game based on the Etrian lore, it is fitting that there is some new music involved, rather than just arrangements of past themes. That being said, the new music, for the most part, manages to capture the feel of the original. Themes like “Town of Aslarga” carry a bright and upbeat tune that matches with a lot of the catchy town themes of the series. “Waltz of the Red Lion,” another theme used in town, has a very gypsy feel with its accordion lead and waltz time signature. It’s quite beautiful and one of the more standout original tunes on the soundtrack. Many of the new themes are used for scenes, rather than dungeon or battle. “Memories of Days Past” is a very pensive strings and piano piece with a very beautiful melody, whereas “Song of the Wandering” and “Drifting Doubts” opt for a more mysterious approach, akin to some of the mysterious cutscene music featured in Etrian Odyssey 4. While most of the new music is enjoyable, there is one tune that I think misses the mark a bit, “Recapture the Treasure, Contest the Soul.” It’s a very comical orchestral piece, in the vein of a “hurry theme.” It, too, utilizes accordion to get this mood across and also implements more traditional orchestral elements, but on the whole, it’s not as engaging a tune as the other new music.
Working backwards, much of the music featured from Etrian Odyssey 4 remains largely unchanged. Themes like “Sacred Mountain of Silver Wind,” “One Step from Death,” and “The Burning Crimson Sword Dances” mirror their counterparts on the original soundtrack. However, a few themes, those arranged by Takeshi Yanagawa, feature more full-fledged arrangements. “The End of Raging Winds” is an epic orchestral re-imagining with some electronic percussion elements thrown into the mix. In addition, there is an awesome violin section that helps add a lot of tension. The other theme, “Faith is My Pillar,” also receives the orchestral treatment and the transition from the original to this arrangement is wonderful. It retains the energy of the original quite nicely and the added piano helps give off a slight romantic touch, especially during the mellower sections of the arrangement.
Given that Etrian Odyssey 3 has yet to receive a remake, all of the music featured here is brand new. “Waterfall Woodlands” captures the spirit of the original with its relaxing nature and strings/woodwind leads. “Chalky Woods,” the other labyrinth featured, carries a very Japanese soundscape with its shakuhachi melody, reinforcing the imagery of the FM synth oriignal. A particular highlight is the free-form playing of the woodwinds over the accompanying strings. The rest of the music from Etrian Odyssey 3 are all battle themes. The boss theme, “Hoist the Sword and Pride in the Heart,” is an awesome orchestral rock theme with a ton of power and is a highlight for sure. The FOE theme, “That Fresh Blood is Thine or the Enemy’s,” also features the orchestral rock treatment to great success. “Each Justice,” the final boss theme from that game, returns in a grand orchestral fashion. While a bit disappointing it didn’t get the gothic rock arrangement the original seemed to emulate, the style of the arrangement fits the overall feel of the entire soundtrack and is still worth a listen. Lastly, “Calling That Detestable Name,” arranged by Takeshi Yanagawa, is another orchestral rock theme focused on heavy metal riffs, interplay in the lead melody between electric guitar and violin, and some haunting choral backing that makes for a highly entertaining arrangement, especially with the solos. If this is a preview of what to expect from a potential Etrian Odyssey 3 Untold, sign me up!
Despite being arranged in the recent Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold: The Knight of Fafnir, the music from Etrian Odyssey 2 is arranged differently than those featured in the remake of the game, which is refreshing. For “Ever-Scarlet Forest,” the lead is more woodwind-oriented than the piano-oriented version found in the remake. Likewise, “Forbidden Forest” with its strings and woodwind interplay replaces the strings and piano interplay of the remake. Of significant departure compared to the remake, “Cherry Tree Bridge” is arranged with traditional Japanese instruments. The shamisen, koto, erhu, and shakuhachi come together to crate a superbly beautiful take on the Etrian Odyssey 2 classic. Lastly, “Shiver” and “A Sudden Gust of Wind That Calls for Death” offer orchestral arrangements that differ from the rock and jazz-influenced orchestral nature of their respective Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold arrangements and are fairly enjoyable.
Speaking of FOE themes and the music from the original game, given the similar nature between the theme in the first and second game, I’m not entirely sure why both versions were needed on this soundtrack, but at least Takeshi Yanagawa, who was responsible for both, changed up the instrumentation between the two so that you weren’t listening to the exact same style. His rendition of “Scatter About” is also quite nice, offering an orchestral arrangement with haunting strings and choir to create an eerie atmoshpere to coexist with the tense nature of the original. However, Yanagawa creates my favorite rendition of “The Forgotten Capital.” The opening is nigh unrecognizable, being a new addition to the arrangement, but the way that he subtly works in the main melody before moving into the heart of the arrangement is genius. The overall nature of the arrangement manages to keep the beauty intact while also adding a lot of regal qualities to the piece, particularly with the brass. It is, by far, my favorite arrangement on the soundtrack.
The Etrian Mystery Dungeon Original Soundtrack is, for the most part, an exemplary piece of work. The new music fits well with the rest of the series’ modern soundscapes, while providing some fresh melodies to listen to. The arrangements of the other music, barring the themes from Etrian Odyssey 4 that are more like the originals, manage to shine and showcase the strength of the original FM tunes, with Yanagawa’s arrangements being some of the real highlights on the album. For those who enjoy the music of the Etrian Odyssey series, this purchase is a must and is a welcome addition to the plethora of music from the series.
Do you agree with the review and score? Let us know in the comments below!
Posted on September 11, 2015 by Don Kotowski. Last modified on September 11, 2015.