I have to admit that I’m generally not a big fan of Original Soundtracks as they often suffer from low quality sampling or are restricted by a system’s sound capabilities. As such, I usually tend to prefer arranged soundtracks such as fully orchestral arrangements or other type of arrangement that really bring out the full potential of a composition. However, once in a while comes a game that boasts a great soundtrack that succeeds in matching quality composition with quality sound. Arc the Lad Twilight of the Spirits is one of those games for me.
Arc the Lad’s soundtrack is the work of many different composers and this probably explains the great variety in styles and sound that can be found on this OST. The sound quality is also extremely high as it seems like none of the songs on the OST seem to use the internal Playstation 2 sound chip and it all sounds like it is redbook using real instruments or in some cases some very high-quality samples. From the peaceful, soothing melody of Yewbell, to the militaristic theme of the Dillzweld Empire, to the furious guitar-driven battle music, Arc the Lad’s music really seems to fit each environment and situation perfectly.
In terms of instrumentation, this soundtrack has it all. You’ll hear full orchestra, electric guitar, classic guitar, violins, flutes, organ, tribal instruments and even bagpipes. From what I could hear, it seems like 9 songs on the soundtrack were recorded using a full orchestra. However, most of the other songs on the soundtrack also use real instruments here and there that were most likely recorded in a studio. The fact that it is difficult to figure out which songs use real instruments and which ones do not speaks volume about the quality of this soundtrack. Another thing that is decidedly different from most RPGs is the use of electric guitar in many of the songs. By my count, 16 songs on the soundtrack use electric guitar in parts of the song. Most of them are battle themes and for those who don’t really like eletric guitar, I wouldn’t worry too much because it is not done in a “hard metal” style or anything like that and it is used mostly to complement the songs.
In terms of composition, I thought the quality was very good and you can really hear the difference in style from all the different composers that worked on this soundtrack. Another cool thing is that there is also a big difference in style between the music used for the Kharg portion of the game and the music from the Darc portion of the game (the 2 heroes). It really helps to give each race their own identity and really helps to show how different they are and helps to explain why there is such hatred between the two.
I would definitely recommend this soundtrack to any fan of RPG or game music whether you’ve played the game or not. This is definitely some high quality material and although the composers aren’t named Uematsu, Mitsuda or Iwadare, it’s hard to deny that this soundtrack reaches that same level of quality.