RPGFan Music

RPGFan Music of the Year 2021 ~ Editors’ Favorites: Sam-James Gordon

RPGFan Music of the Year 2021

Bravely Default II Original Soundtrack

As a fan of the Bravely series since the first entry, the soundtrack of its officially numbered sequel is one I highly anticipated. I was not disappointed (far from it), and Bravely Default II’s OST has become my favourite of 2021. Revo returns with all the flair and melodrama that I enjoyed so much from Bravely Default while also bringing some beautifully effective contrast through his more poignant compositions. I will highlight three personal favourite pieces for this list, each showcasing the breadth of emotion in the soundtrack, and throw in a couple of series bonuses for good measure.

First up, we have “Nostalgia, the Light of the Past.” The name of this track says it all for me: it’s nostalgic and inspires me to reflect upon happy moments of the past. Actually, I found myself looking back on when I first played Bravely Default in 2014. It’s hard to believe that was eight years ago, but that is surely an appropriate amount of time to develop nostalgia. It also brings to mind some of the stellar music from the Golden Sun series: perhaps because the wind instruments used in “Nostalgia” were somewhat replicable through the GBA’s sound processing. Either way, the piece does impose a sepia vignette of simpler times—comforting and familiar yet without a rose-tinted filter.

While “Nostalgia” was quite clear with its intention, even from its name, “Horizons Differ, Yet Petals Still Fall” is perhaps more ambiguous and open to interpretation. Opening with the twinkling of ivories and growing with the swell of strings, I find I could attach several different contexts to the piece and all of them would make sense. Waking up from a dream of a lost loved one, only to remember they are no longer with you. The pang of sorrow reflecting on unfulfilled potential. A beautiful track for sure, and one that invites the listener to look upon how their future horizons may unexpectedly differ from past expectations.

I hope we’ve all dabbed our eyes after that last one, as it’s time for a track that excites me (or should do) in any RPG: the battle theme! Simply named “Battle Theme,” the complexity in melodies and instrumental layering is both engaging and exhilarating. I think Revo truly enjoys writing music for battles; if any of you have watched him and his band, Linked Horizons, perform the Bravely Default concert, then you will know how animated they get. I know if I were arm-to-arm with Seth and pals, I’d be tapping my foot as I stood there mentally selecting my next move. Its confident brass and supporting strings rally morale while also exuding a kind of naive charm that’s perfectly suited to the cast. You know how an excited dog does his best at everything? This battle theme brings out the youthful urge to do my best and also praises me. Like a dog.

While my third and final example from the Bravely Default II soundtrack finished on somewhat of an oddball fetch the ball comparison, I’m ending with a series throwback for that final blast of nostalgia. Bravely Default is a spiritual successor to a DS title by the name of Final Fantasy: 4 Heroes of Light, and while there are some more subtle influences from one game to the next, there is also a shared piece of music. The bleepy bloopy goodness of 4 Heroes of Light’s battle theme, “Battle With Monsters,” was arranged and given an orchestral makeover as somewhat of a cameo piece in Bravely Default. Depending on how much time you spend banishing Nemeses from Norende, you may or may not even hear it. While we hope for a Bravely Default III and look back on what an amazing year 2021 was for video game music, I hope you’ve enjoyed listening to my personal picks from Bravely Default II and its predecessors.

Sam-James Gordon

Sam-James Gordon

Sam-James, AKA Sam, has been a fan of RPGs since childhood. He grew up on games like Final Fantasy VIII, Legend of Dragoon, Grandia and the Breath of Fire series. The PS2 was a golden era of gaming for Sam, before many of his favourite series became dormant, and is loving the modern resurgence with games like Eiyuden Chronicle, Penny Blood, and Armed Fantasia.