Going into this review, I ought to say that I have never really gotten into the Shining games. I knew people growing up who loved them, and I did give Shining Force III a whirl on the Saturn. But this is new territory for me; usually I write reviews for soundtracks I know very well, like Ys or Shin Megami Tensei. So do forgive me if I overlook some subtleties or traditions in the music.
Upon starting up the album, first signs point to generic. The intro song was unremarkable pop and the first few tracks went nowhere.
But out of the blue we start hearing some very nice tracks! The 'Geo Fortress - Residential' tracks are very nice, especially the 80's-soundtrack-tinged 'Engineering Block'. 'Paora Plains' and its battle track also were great. 'Snowfield - Permafrost' has a wonderful ethnic, kind of Italian feel with a great haunting piano. And again, its battle counterpart is wonderful.
Though not strong as a whole, there are moments of shimmering, high quality synth, like the cello on 'Reconciliation'. Very good! 'Cantore Village' has a slightly Zwei!!/Chrono Cross feel, and 'Heartbreak' is gorgeous - nice, ethereal mandolin and pads - a very pretty song.
Speaking of other games, 'Great Bridge - Battle' has a soaring string melody which reminded me of the great battles of Langrisser and Growlanser. 'Amidst Confrontation' sounds like Suikoden V's more chilling numbers, and 'Final Battle' throws back to the Ys track of the same name with a hint of OZ thrown in. And the 'Sky Ship - Battle' tune has this great bass line that I could hum along to forever.
Ending the album is 'The World Is One.' It's alright, but really nothing special. Earlier games have had much better themes, like FFVIII's "Eyes on Me" and Shadow Hearts II's "Getsurenka". But still, a decent effort seems to be put forth for the closer.
Despite several strong tracks, the overall quality of the OST is a bit low. Most of the instruments sound very cheap and clearly MIDI - it's just a little too clean and synthetic. The sound set is kind of budgety, like the Taito Ys remakes.
But it was still a lot of fun to listen to, and I am convinced it would work better inside a game, especially with the battle variations. I would recommend at least giving the music a chance, because there are some very strong tracks despite the aforementioned shortcomings.
Reviewed by: Connary