Ahh, Aveyond. Without Aveyond, the commercial RPG Maker scene would not exist. Sure these days games such as Blossomsoft’s Eternal Eden or Aldorlea’s Millennium are the current commercial RPGM benchmarks, but Aveyond continues to hold court. That series’ biggest trump card and the reason it holds a special place in my heart is Aaron Walz’s compositions. His orchestral compositions are beautiful, ethereal, and could probably stand toe to toe with big name Japanese RPG composers like Hitoshi Sakimoto and put up a valiant fight. Aveyond 3 is a darker title than prior installments and therefore showcases some of Walz’s darkest and most complex compositions.
The most striking compositions this time around are the darker, fuller-bodied ones like “Fearful of the Darkness.” Of course, there are plenty of ethereal sounding pieces that longtime fans will enjoy, such as “Overwhelming Memories.” There’s even a common theme from prior Aveyond games that’s here as well; Whenever I hear “Field of Wind” I automatically think Aveyond. Instrumentally, it’s orchestral fare with plenty of strings, woodwinds (there is some fantastic flute work throughout the soundtrack), brass, percussion such as church bells; basically, it’s quality stuff befitting high fantasy. Even the few uses of synth, such as the Thais town theme, are used very tastefully. And since the Aveyond games enjoy comic relief every so often, the whimsical themes such as “Moo Hatchery” offer a nice break from the heavier-feeling material.
I think some of the most important pieces of music in an RPG soundtrack are the battle themes since players spend so much time in battle. I’ve always enjoyed Aaron Walz’s battle themes in prior Aveyond games, and the ones presented here are great. The regular battle theme is one of the most unique battle themes I’ve heard in a long time and my favorite battle theme in this soundtrack. It captures the game’s more gothic nature, but then seamlessly blends into a funky swing thing later on. The regular boss theme sounds larger than life with its prominent use of brass with nicely placed church bells. Church bells are often used in RPG compositions to add an epic feel, but can sometimes be overused. They’re used with tasteful restraint here. The final battle theme, with its prominent organ, starts off simply enough and really hits its stride after the 1 minute mark. The second minute of this 2 minute piece is the better half.
Aaron Walz has delivered another fantastic soundtrack for the Aveyond series. Not only is the music some of the most heady and complex in the series, but it’s just great music that stands alone outside the context of the game. Someone who has never heard or thought much of video game soundtracks before will certainly dig it. Perhaps I’m a bit biased since Aaron Walz is one of my favorite up-and-coming VGM composers, but I hope to hear more and greater things from him and I definitely recommend this soundtrack to anyone who likes good music.