Released in the US simply as “Folklore,” Game Republic’s action/adventure/RPG “FolksSoul ~The Lost Folklore~” was one of the earliest PS3 RPG releases. The game’s creative team was impressive; this includes its sound team. The composers come from a variety of backgrounds. Kawai, who handled much of the soundtrack (including the “main themes”) has written music for many high-profile animes, as well as some top-notch titles from game developer Koei. Hosoe and Saso have worked together on many projects in the past, sometimes under the SuperSweep label. The same can be said of Hiroto Saitoh, whom we’ve seen compose music for games such as Berwick Saga and Palais de Reine. Finally, there is Ms. Yuriko Mukoujima, a famous “guest musician” who’s appeared in a vast array of musical projects across the globe. The two tracks she contributes add a special flair to the album.
The musical styles found in this three disc set are as strange, wondrous, and imaginative as that of the game “Folklore” itself. The mellow, down-to-earth pieces do well to reflect on the European “folk” style, incorporating ancient wind instruments with modern percussion samples. Then there are the melodies, which we generally find played by piano, large string sections, or the aforementioned woodwinds. Though re-used many times, there are three or four central melodies to this game, and they are so beautiful and haunting, I simply cannot get them out of my head. And frankly, I’m happy to let these melodies remain where they are.
When in the surreal “netherworld” game areas, the soundtrack takes on a whole different scope. Battle music, mostly penned by Hosoe and Saso, are the weakest groupings of music on the album. There are some great battle themes, but there are also some that do too good a job at creating cacophony. In other words, they’re bound to induce some serious headaches. This is a typical “problem” that only the most die-hard Hosoe fan would argue against. I’m not a die-hard Hosoe fan, so I’ll just say that while the battle compositions stand out, sometimes they stand out for the wrong reasons.
I listened to this soundtrack once before playing the game, and while I was impressed, there was no initial impact. After having played the game, the meaning behind the melodies is much stronger. Certainly, the composers did well at the task of “setting the mood” for the game. But despite the early notion I had that this was an Elfman-like film score for a Burton-like story, I now see something much more powerful in the main melodies. Most of them can be heard in the ending track “Wherever the Soul Goes.”
Though I would not go so far as to call the soundtrack a Danny Elfman wannabe project, there is little doubt that the soundtrack resembles a film score. What with the high-quality recordings of many live instruments, one would be hard-pressed to find a more film score-esque VGM project than this, especially from Japan. And though I am usually prone to complain about such things, in this particular case, I do not consider it to be a “bad” thing.
Do “too many cooks spoil the broth?” Not in this case. Three discs, five composers, fifty songs, one fantastic soundtrack. Do take the time to learn more about this music, and the game for which it was written.