Note: the official tracklist is in French. The English meanings are provided in parentheses.
So I've really been investing a lot of time learning more about Ankama Studios' strategy-based MMORPG "DOFUS." I was talking to the game's community manager about the DOFUS original soundtrack (for sale at the Ankama Shop), and she told me that it was actually more of an arranged album than an OST.
"Wait," I said. "If it's an arranged album, why'd you call it an OST?" She then went on to explain that the game's composer actually wrote the music as you hear it on this disc. This is it in its "original" form. However, when finally put into the game, they used downgraded synth versions of these songs instead of streaming the live recorded music. So this is the pre-in-game original music, which sounds to veteran gamers like an arranged album. So I'm glad we got that clarified.
Now, most of the music is still MIDI through a keyboard with sophisticated synth. But there are some live performances as well, including a vocal (non-lyrical) performance in the opening and ending pieces.
These compositions stand out in two ways. First, nearly every track has a strong melody. That's really important for an MMORPG, in my opinion. Too many of them rely on droning, atmospheric "mood" music. But having a catchy melody can really hook you. Tracks like the Pandala theme (25) and the standard battle music (05) really do have melodies that I can sing back to you after only one listen. That's not an easy thing to do, and the composer deserves a pat on the back for the accomplishment.
The second way the compositions stand out is in setting up a brilliant "backbone" of production using little more than the tools of a keyboard and music software. Not every track can boast this feat, but two I will cite in particular: the Sacrier theme (18) and the Sidimote music (14). The former does the whole Spanish Don Quixote thing perfectly, particularly with the guitar and trumpet. The latter makes excellent use of orchestral bells, xylophones and ensemble strings to set the stage for what is clearly a weird, dark, exotic place.
Again, the physical CD is available via Ankama's website for a reasonable price (10 Euros). Soundtrack collectors shouldn't hesitate to check this one out!
Reviewed by: Patrick Gann